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Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.01 | 217 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Brilliant. This is exactly the album I would make, but these guys beat me to it. Each track is something, horrendously combined with something else. Jazz-metal-surf rock? Italian-avant-opera? Middle Eastern Techno? It's all here.

The madness opens with "Everyone I went to High School with is Dead", a track likely placed first just to confuse, annoy, and make you write bad reviews. Essentially a slocore death metal track, the deep, growling fuzz bass and messy drums seem to flow like sludge through your speakers. All the agony and insanity, and a chorus of damned souls in a forced rendition of Hell's Alma Mater. Even so, it's probably one of the weaker tracks on here. I enjoy it, but if it's not your thing, don't judge the album by it.

"Chemical Marriage" reassures you that you didn't waste your money on some noise-obsessed metal band when it's hockey rink organs start up. One of three "instrumentals" on this CD, it is the shortest and most easily digestible. It has a great atmosphere, and kind of gives you some down time to prepare for the next track.

Mr. Bungle's true genius shines for the first time in "Carry Stress in the Jaw", where saxes and standup bass battle against shred metal guitars and Edgar Allen Poe references, making this one hell of a ride. Simply amazing. It ends with a hidden track tacked on to it, the so-called "Secret Song", which features a ranting old man's narrative and odd-meter surf rock.

The next track is "Desert Search for Techno Allah", which I really cannot describe well. I guess it's Daft Punk meets...someone...and someone else...and a whole lot of weirdness...with a highly danceable beat...and freaky sound effects partway through and a mideastern motif. Anyway, it's another highlight.

Then they top their own weirdness with "Violenza Domestica", the first song to really focus on lyrics. In Italian. Tons of sound effects here, accordians, and ominous guitars. The story seems to be a narrative on an abusive father who...steals his child's tounge... Anyway, it gets really creepy towards the end, with whispering really close to the mike and what sounds like an icy bowling alley in the background.

"After School Special" is definitely the weakest track, about a kid's mom and how great she is. They're quite a bit of cynical and eerie undertones here, including mentions of an abusive father. It's fairly short, with a freakish sampled section tacked on the end. The music still manages to encompass at least two genres, this time cliched pop organ rock and a brief latin-tinged instrumental.

Some hyperactive punk metal drumming kicks off "Phlegmatics", part III of "Sleep" (parts II and I being "Carry Stress in the Jaw" and "Slowly Growing Deaf", respectively). This song brings to mind KING CRIMSON, because of their use of "Epitaph"-like clarinets and quasi-metal dissonance and free meter. The guitar and vocals are kept almost totally separate from the bass chords and speed metal drumming, soaring in free time and echoing each other. Eventually it collapses into the clarient section I mentioned before.

Mike PATTON's nonsense vocal experimentations are showcased in the otherwise instrumental "Ma Meeshka Mow Skoz", as well as the band's best ZAPPA imitation. Bouncy, dark, noisy, and jazzy. Another winner.

"The Bends" is the weirdest multisectional I've ever heard. The sections fade in and out, drifiting eerily like a spotlight deep in the ocean. The highlights are "The Drowning Flute", "Aqua Swing" (a brilliant deepsea jazz session with some excellent upright bass), "Panic in Blue", and the song-like "Love on the Event Horizon", which features some acoustic guitar and electronically enhanced sax. It all ends with "Re- entry", an extremely loud rush of noise. Turn your speakers down. Waaaay down.

"Backstokin" is, as many people have already noted, like the epilogue to "The Bends". Some bouncy and doo-woppy quasi-surf in a psychadelic format, a nice break from the extreme weirdness of "The Bends".

Mr. Bungle live up to their RIO name in "Platypus". It starts with some cliched metal guitar riffing, but soon drops into some seriously complex meters and time shifts. Don't blink your ears for this one. Towards the end they even throw in some musique concrete and subliminal musings on the scientific nature of the platypus.

The most deceptive song is "Merry Go Bye-Bye". It leads you into a super-cliched pop chorus, but something's fishy. The lyrics don't fit at all. What's this about suicide? But before you can catch on, they hurl you into some seriously nosiy death metal and electronic washing. But then even that subsides and leaves you with a sad, somewhat hopeful message. It also kind of hints at the nature of their next album, telling you what to expect, kind of a send-off into the more deceptive world of "California". But we'll get to that later. The album ends with an unnamed hidden track, lots of noise and trumpet honks.

It make take a couple of listens, but there is something here for everyone. No prejudice allowed.

penguindf12 | 5/5 |


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