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Mr. Bungle - Mr. Bungle CD (album) cover

MR. BUNGLE

Mr. Bungle

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.98 | 175 ratings

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werbinox
5 stars What can I say about this album? Where do I begin? Just seeing it sit on the table, with that iconic fucked up clown face, I feel it is radioactive, or a type of kryptonite, infusing me with energy rather than draining me, but a demented, perverse, megalomaniacal Court-Jester- on-acid kind of energy, manic, delirious, and scary!

The adventure actually begins with the CD artwork, the majority of which is taken from "A Cotton Candy Autopsy" by Dave Louapre, released in 1989 as the first edition of the comic series "Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children". Visually it is a tour de force of Coulrophobia, depicting scenes of a dead clown lying bloody by a dumpster, a troupe of clowns driving a car with the body strapped to the hood, a drunk and belligerent bottle-waving clown scaring a bunch of crying children at a birthday party. Crazy clown faces everywhere, welcome to the Fun, er?Horror house! The back of the disc shows a man in a chair holding a bloody knife in one hand and his own head in the other, presumably he sliced it off himself. A red devil of the classical variety sits by his feet, smiling in apparent approval. The band credits show Vlad Drac as Singer, Heifetz on Drums, Guitar by Scummy, Trevor Roy Dunn plays Bass, Tenor Sax ? Bar, Theobald Brooks Lengyel ? Alto & Bari Intonation.

I first heard this in a motel room in Nashville, when Geoff and I drove up to visit the Echolyn guys while they were recording "As the World", another great and iconic progressive rock album of the 90's. A bunch of us were sitting around taking turns playing different discs. I had just played some of Zappa's "Roxy& Elsewhere". Ray Weston got up and put on this, the first Mr. Bungle disc. I had never even heard of them. The sounds hit me like they did when I first heard King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", or when I first heard Zappa's "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast". I was dumbfounded. Wha? It was sonic chaos but with purpose, and I couldn't make any sense of it at first. It was like being assaulted. The vortex of strange and uniquely arranged sounds spun by my heard, and I didn't even know if it worked or not, if I even liked it. I understood why you would play this after Zappa, for the rhythms were challenging with lots of surprising changes, also blasts of heavy distorted guitar like Sabbath on steroids, zany horn passages sprinkled hither and yon, sudden interludes of pure noise, very RIO-ish craziness, overall a bizarre palette. And that voice, commanding in its range of styles, and over-the-top histrionics with cartoony babbles, lounge-jazz crooning, squeaks and squeals, the distorted screams that cut like a jagged razor. I thought the band was fronted by some technological Borg-demon! I had never heard a voice like it before. From screeching wails and shrieks to guttural growls and whispers, like a hundred voices in one throat, all of it was delivered with the palpable confidence of a natural, and a master of his craft. And what better way to discover the talents of Mike Patton than on this, the first masterpiece of his career? I do not think it a coincidence that he achieved this under the tutelage of John Zorn, who shared the Producer's hat for this project.

The first track "Quote Unquote" begins unconventionally, with over 30 seconds of barely audible snoring. If you don't turn your volume up enough you will think there is something wrong, where's the fucking music? A glass shatters, probably knocked off the nightstand, and WAAAAA!!!!! Power chords towering high as the Himalaya roar out, with a Twilight Zone keyboard theme. Horror movie metal! A Gateway has opened. The Hosts of Hell ride out through walls of fire. You are at the entrance of an insane carnival, check your mind at the door! Mr. Bungle in evil clown face lies loutishly on a pedestal. No god or devil is he but both rolled into one, the ultimate no-count, the ultimate outcast, the ultimate Fuck Up, but of Ubermensch proportions! A shock-ska groove plays, warped for a new modern Schizophrenic Age, sci-fi keyboard notes pushing the upbeat as the bass and drums hammer it down. Patton comes in, voice swimming in a warbly effect.

"All behold the spectacle/ A fleshy limbless rectangle / Sitting on a pedestal / So nasal handicapable / Sniff and remember silver ball / Contortions that he can't recall / The torso on a trampoline / The happy melts into dream."

The music drops into the first of its many changes, a Jimmy Smith-type jazz swing, pattering rain cymbal smatter and Hammond Organ. Brutal dissonant keyboard chords quickly interrupt the dream and an ascending, classical sounding riff takes over, full of menace. Patton ups the ante with a clean, soaring tenor:

"To talk is an enunciated sneeze / to taste is some foul air to breathe."

The building tension is suddenly cheated as the music drops off again into a dreamy yet disconcerting jazz underworld, Patton's voice drifting in and out of the shadows. Just as suddenly it is fulfilled with a stomping metal riff turned alien prog-groove bathed in odd colored dissonant keyboards pulsing like sirens. Patton's hyper-macho basso commands attention with a bizarre declaration:

"One thought it lasts a day, and at that rate he'll most likely live forever!!!!!!!!! He's a bird in flight, a hermaphrodite, and he fucks himself as he fucks" (here the voice becomes an apocalyptic roar) "the world!!!!!"

WAAAAAA! The Himalayan power chords return with the horror theme, and the song cycles through another progression of sci-fi rock and jazz trade-offs before Patton hones in more upon the subject matter:

"He's got an itch, but nothing with which to scratch the itch, so wish it away! With his mouth sewn shut he still shakes his butt, cuz he's Hitler and Swayze and Trump and (said alone as a whisper) Travolta!"

Boom! The music drops back into jazz alley nightmare and lingers there as a backdrop for Patton to paint a beautifully subtle vocal collage of delay-effected micro screeches, inhaled squeals, and deep-throat gags and chokes before the keyboard wash almost fades out. Almost. There is no moment of real lasting silence on this album, for all songs segue into the next, always with sonic experiments that are interesting in their own right. Here a frenzy of sax squeaks and breathy duck calls (probably Zorn) sandwich a field recording of a horn- blowing passing train ? a foreshadowing ? that leads into the next song.

"Slowly Growing Deaf" blasts in with 5 seconds of funk rock before dropping suddenly and totally into ambient land, relaxing and drowsy. Patton croons a kind of mission statement with the line "To my ears the greatest sin feels a bit like Beethoven." Dakka-dakka-dak! The snare brings the rock back, chunky and driving like a Faith No More song, but it doesn't last long because the funk returns with the opening Trevor Dunn bass riff, alternating cleverly with hand-clapping surf-guitar sections that will be greatly expanded upon in the future on another Mr. Bungle album, yet here come and go before the mind can even register what it has heard on a first, or even second listen. Right when the music seems to reach a climax there's a pause, a few seconds of video game music, then Chunka-Chunka-Chunka! The FNM-type chunky riff returns without warning. If this looks chaotic and nonsensical in print, in sound it either works wonderfully for you, or IS chaotic and nonsensical depending on your taste. Mr. Bungle's music does not appeal to casual listeners. It is radical, and as such usually inspires love or hatred. A scream like a hole torn in a pressurized vacuum chamber inaugurates a particularly noisy section, with Patton multi-tracking his voice into a demonic mob chorus shouting "my ears, my ears, my ears are ringing my ears, my ears, my ears are ringing?." Over an intense speed-picked Trey Spruance classical metal riff Patton sings in his newly acquired confident sneering rock voice ? "Wax within my ears has grown just like the snot inside my nose / My interpretation of distorted" ? here he contorts the word into one of the most unhinged, ragged, vocal-cord flapping screams in rock history - "conversatioooooooon!"

A split-second of silence, and the soft ambient returns, complete with lounge-jazz cymbal speed-ups and slow-downs. An utterly jarring explosion of rude, distorted yelling over a maximum volume bass and drums riff interrupts everything for a few seconds before the ambient returns and fades out?almost. Patton: "I'm gonna get a cup of coffee". Whump! Silence?then footsteps running away to open a distant door. A toilet lid opens and a man grunts with obvious pain, squeezing a turd out Plop! into the water. Col. Sanders' voice comes in, trying to do that commercial for extra crispy ("what kinda damn chicken?") we have all by now heard from those Al Kooper tapes with all the celebrity fuck ups, and by now the listener has been served notice that this recording is, amongst many other things, a tour de force of pop culture references and gross humor. The man on the toilet keeps grunting painfully and the turds keep plopping in the water over the Colonels' sad, probably drunken attempts to advertise his own chicken: "Some folks call it chicka-maligna! Some folks call it call it, some folks call it, no wait?" The turds have turned liquid, pouring a steady runny stream into the bowl. The Colonel say's "I'm not getting anywhere with this damn thing!" A producer's voice say's "Ok, fine." A last gas surge blows out the anus. Patton sings solo: "I wanna - "

"Squeeze me Macaroni" charges in with not only one of Trevor Dunn's most infectious and incredible slap-funk bass grooves, but also Mike Patton's greatest rap rock performance. And the lyrics are all silly sick perverse food porn:

"lock Betty Crocker in the kitchen and knock her upper during supper / Clutter up her butter gutter / Hostess Ding-Dong wrapped an egg around my wong while Dolly Madison proceeded to ping my pong/ Your Milky Way is M-n-M in your britches and I'll tell you Baby Ruth, it looks mighty delicious / Keep blowin' my gum, cuz here I come, I'm gonna get you all sticky with my Bubble yum yeah!"

Trevor Dunn: Boom-be-doomp! Bibba-doomp be-boomp! "Knick Knack Paddywack! Give your dog a boner baby!"

The groove relents to a mysterioso keyboard wash. Patton sings through a CB radio-type distortion:

"Take a dump baby, squirt some gravy on me?" An over-driven, distorted roar: "Make it brown and runny!"

A metal micro- riff trades with percussive horns behind a stream of voices differentiated by rapidly changing vocal effects: "Give it a little Flavor Flav, back from the grave / Gonna burn some toast, pump some humpin' rump roast!"

The music becomes nearly unbearable rap-noise-rock for a couple measures before resolving into a super chunky metal riff with Pattons' "Oooh Oooh Aaiiiihhhhhs" ascending upwards into electronic whines and then ? dreamy psychedelic Motown Jazz-rock porno, played at a gentle volume. Patton croons in a sweet falsetto: "Squeeze me macaroni / slap your face with my baloney" for four strangely beautiful measures before the band blasts full throttle into one of the highlights of the album, an aggressive Trevor Dunn funk bass line mimicked and augmented by Patton's high-pitched staccato notes: "Dada dada doah di-di da-doah / dada dada dada doah di-di da-doah!"

The band burns through a ridiculously intense prog-funk-metal passage into rapid fire stop- start unison quadruplets, all of it delivered in 10 ? 15 seconds of statistical density at break- neck speed, leading dramatically back into the main groove:

"You gotta siphon the spinach, you gotta cream the corn / Sperm scrambles the eggs and a meal is born / Cookin' like a beginner but I'm goin' up in her / I had fritos for lunch I'm havin' bush for dinner / Chef Boyardee and the Three Musketeers shove Charleston Chews in their rears like queers / 'Holy Moly Guacamole!' said my Chips Ahoy/ I'm gonna pinch a ravioli in the Pillsbury dough! Boooooooy!" (ending with the Tall Man's final roaring word from the mirror on the first Phantasm movie) Catchy choruses of "We came to party!" fade out with the rest of the music as a crazed noise collage takes over, Patton hoarsely screaming "party!" like a drunken frat-boy through a miasma of conversational babblings and random horn blasts, Dennis Hopper weaving in and out with complaints about "warm fucking beer's gonna make me puke!" Slowed down and sped up percussion effects reminiscent of Zappa roll us out into a deliriously horned-up Hopper reverie about "Tight fuckin cheeks, O god, O yeah, man!"

Trey's clean guitar and a carnival barker shouting "Hurry! Hurry!" start the horn-driven ska tune "Carousel", a frequent number on demos, this time more produced and Circus-y than ever before. On an album infamous for having lyrics about perversion, madness, masturbation, murder, and suicide, the lyrics here can be taken as representative of the ethos and atmosphere of the entire effort. Patton paints the surface of it, alternating seamlessly between his nasally FNM voice and the macho basso that almost defines his approach on this album:

"A carnival for the human race / Cotton candy, happy face / A child talking with his mouth full / Girlfriend gets stuffed animal / A festive world is all around / Another world is what we've found / Step right let's make a deal / Let's ride on the Ferris wheel."

Now the Underside:

"You know there's something lurking underneath the shape with a mask over his head and makeup on his face / Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee / Take a look in the mirror and see the clown in yourself / If you want to know what's behind the show you ride my carousel, enter life's jail cell / Love and blood begin to meld, you've lost the self that you once held / Merry go round your head ? awake, asleep, alive, or dead!"

The meditation on clowns takes a surprising turn when they are revealed to be not merely villains or symbols of fun and / or evil, but anti-heroes!

"The clown that painted a smile on you / is now the one unmasking you!" The lyrical portion concludes with words for all to ponder:

"A roller coaster ride into the rivers of your mind / The currents merge, your feelings surge, your life's a pantomime / Beauty is the spiral going round and round the beast / Without the vampire effect the carnival is deceased."

Metal chords trade with a James Bond Spy / beach riff before descending full into the dream - "Welcome to my house!" ? Carousels spinning, prize winning ringing bells, and distressed cat meows. Stepping off the ride, Patton yells "I think I'm gonna be sick!" and emits heavily distorted Borg vomit. "Blah! Bluh! Blah! Bluh!" and the song trails off into a small orchestra of toy instruments playing the circus theme, an incredible ride through a sonic funhouse.

-Snippett of video game music, then-

Bum Bum! Power chords alternate with porno guitar. "Egg" roars in to take no prisoners. If you thought the rest was intense, hold on cuz the band is now warmed-up and ready to kick ass. A couple measures of funk rock underpins Patton's Alchemical proclamation (most probably written by Trey, whose interest in magic is well known) "Rotting from the inside over ? incubated by the heat of fear and love / the self's coagulated!"

"Egg!" the chorus sings, and it's off into a fast, irresistible ska groove with warbly-cartoony "Lla-la, Lla-la-la-la-la's!" Then a warning from Patton:

"Boiling hard in euphemism / Slowly becoming part of the water / Like a frog who never knows the jacuzzi's getting hotter! Lla-la, Lla-la-la-la-la!"

Here one of the great abrupt changes of the album occurs as the ska riff drops diagonally into psychedelic prog-jazz, with noisy techno-guitar screeching over a hypnotic, monster- stalking-prey bass and drum rhythm. Patton pulls out a gangster: "How'd you know I was lookin' at you if you weren't lookin' at me?" The section crescendos into a reprise of the opening guitar riff, but the opening is not repeated. The song goes into a knew riff, driving and insistent, with extremely violent sounding distorted vocals right up in the listeners' face, and it doesn't even matter what they are saying at this point, it's the effect that counts. The band launches into a drum pounding blast-beat, racing through a rhythmic contortion back into the ska groove with a transition that makes the head spin. And the "Lla-la-la's" are back, too, but not for long! In the kind of change that inspires many listeners to classify this music as RIO, the music drops off a cliff into silence punctuated by pure randomness: wavering horns, sticks falling, Patton going "Hey! Hey!" like a drunken man. Then Wham! The driving riff with the violent distorted vocals is back. Patton's voice goes from Hardcore yelling to hyper-roboto to death growling in the space of seconds. You still can't make out what is being said but it is, for some, worth knowing:

"The cracks finally appear / Release cholesterol tears / The flooded cyst drains itself of puss / The lonely stomach chills unless it's drunk / So as she drives she'll close her eyes / Feel it warming up inside!" Another high speed blast-beat, the music goes briefly backwards, some studio gimmickry fun, before returning to the main ska riff. Patton sings the eternal mystery:

"Oh an egg comes out of a chicken / O a chick comes out of an egg! / O an egg comes out of a chicken / O a chick comes out of an egg!"

Building to yet another climax the music abruptly goes to Hell with a chorus of ragged, piercing screams over dark descending power chords, squealing sax and horns conjuring the flames. This trails off into a slow bass and drum plod colored by clean ringing guitar chords and synth washes that could be construed as relaxing if not for the persistent minor key foreboding of the music, and Patton's building-to-a-climax meditation on the line "There's no place like home / There's no place like home." If some have made it this far into the album, this may be the place where they can't take it anymore. For fans it is one of the Great Moments, especially for the enjoyment of Patton's insane vocal artistry. With each passing measure, alternating with Zorn-style bites of chaotic noise, Patton makes the line more demented, running through a panoply of different voice characters, from the cartoony to the demonic, ending it with an Edith Bunker screeching-whine-come-drunk-Tony Clifton- lounge-vocal. The music falls apart into "don't believe I'd of done that" territory. "NO PLACE LIKE Ha-ha-ha!" screams in your face one more time, degenerating into laughter (cuz hey, this band may be bad-ass evil but they got a sense of humor and are cracking themselves up) then ? the Intermission.

Yes, an Intermission. At first you may not know that. Rather you will think 'what the hell happened?' It's a much talked about section amongst Bungle fans, a field-recording, supposedly captured by a 4-track strapped to a band members' back (Patton?) as they hop a moving box car. The foreshadowing of the train in the transition from "Travolta" (I mean Quote Unquote!) to "Slowly Growing Deaf" is now fulfilled. Here it lasts a few minutes, a long time for those not used to such a thing. It seems incongruous, out of nowhere, mostly just loud wind and clanking metal and a smattering of voices. In retrospect it is a logical and much welcome Intermission from all the mayhem. The ears need a moment to relax, to be wiped clean with silence before the second half of the assault comes. And it is coming! You will know you've reached it when you hear Patton ask "what's his problem?"

A mélange of sound effects brings us into the slow circus waltz of "Stubb (A Dub)". Patton sings in a dreamy falsetto:

"Do you remember we called you puppy? Now you're one of us, we call you family." The waltz builds in dissonance and tension. "Family" is repeated with mounting sarcastic vocal affectation. This can't be good, then ? Loony Tunes! A high speed blast beat of carnival music sweeps all from its path. Many listeners who have reached this point have never heard music do this before, and probably didn't know that it could. Trumpet notes emphasize the downbeat whilst keys and percussion augment the up, and the bass plays all of it! The combined effect is extreme cartoon thrash.

After a couple dense and precise measures it stops. Patton's voice floats warbly and indescribable amongst dissonant keyboard notes:

"Treading under foot and stinking ass / Hold the door aside and let her pass." A locked-brake tire screams burning rubber on asphalt before a collision. A demonic-thug chorus roars "Glaucoma!" The band is in trademark Bungle territory, a heavy bass and drum groove with stabbing, counterpoint synth notes. Patton sings in a heavily effected sneering Martian voice:

"Reflections of a bloated lie / A life stored in your cloudy eye / Now it's time to say goodbye / Stubb A Dub will never die!" More Carnival blasts beats.

"Chase a tail that isn't there / It's time to wipe your butt ? sliding down butt hill!"

A fast piano, bass, and drum excursion take us into yet another head spinning change with rapid fire alternating sax and snare-bass quadruplets, landing odd time in a piano-led mid- tempo ska groove. Patton sings in a clean, soaring, nasally tenor:

"Dahg Rastubfari -do you know? / That you're a fucking dog? / And if you can hear me, then throw up / Give me a sign and I'll throw a stick bring it back roll over and die / You taught me a lesson ? thanks Mom!"

Ballroom piano plays brightly over a hyper delineated funk groove, almost disco. Patton raps the lyrics quickly and melodically:

"Do you understand me do you think about me when you're peeing? Do you really think your gonna grow into a human being?"

Grand orchestral circus jazz flows majestically over a sizzling drum patter. The music mounts in rhythmic piano-drum stabs.

"You're gonna die! How does it feel? Stubb!"

The song structure cycles back to the carnival blast beats, though each time something new is added to them. When the "do you know that you're a fuckin' dog?" section returns, Patton adds a speaking track, reciting the words as sarcastic poetry along with the singing tracks. With a rolling snare flourish the song returns to the slow waltz used at the song's very beginning. Patton sings in his dreamy falsetto:

"Do you remember we called you family? / Now you're underground / We call you memory! Memory. Memory. Ahh memory?" trailing off in a cast of voices. A low bass note rumbles. Rolling cymbals mount tension. Someone is weeping and can't stop. It's Kyle McLachlan fresh from the closet-he-had-been-hiding-in scene from "Blue Velvet". Isabella Rossellini whispers "I want you to hurt me."

Percussive guitar chords chop the air. Trevor Dunn weaves bass notes around it. Patton bellows something indecipherable, a punk yell double-tracked with a death roar. A Trey Spruance triplet-based monster metal riff dances contrapuntal odd-time with sci-fi staccato keyboard stabs, creating a sound unlike any other. "My Ass is on Fire" is the 'heaviest' tune on the album, and remains a fan favorite, something Bungle recognized, and even sympathized with (a rare thing for them!) for they chose to keep playing it live up until the end of their career together, albeit in modified form. Descending metal chords give way to a low key, tension building porno groove, trumpets dancing light and airy above. Patton sneers: "Impotent / Boomerang / I'll stab you (in a gravelly purr ? I'll stab you)" The metal chords return in an aggressive staccato march alternating in halting stop-starts with dual sax lines. The tension is building. Something horrible is coming.

"Clumps of hair / In the sink / Who's hiding things from me?"

The music surges forward in a driving groove. Patton yells maniacally through a harsh, abrasive distortion:

"You knew all along - Goddamnit! But you wouldn't tell me, well look at you NAAAAOOOOOOOWW!"

The distorted yell becomes a claws-down-the-back chainsaw scream, one of the greatest in all of Rock, a real room clearer (an old girlfriend of mine actually DID leave the room with this scream, saying "it sounds like someone's being murdered!") A wall of distortion reverberates, ringing out to the edges of space. The chorus rides in on the backs of the Four Horsemen. Patton sings in his high nasally tenor:

"It's not funny my ass is on fire!"

Trey unleashes a fast, alternate-picked sci-fi surf guitar like Dick Dale on steroids over Trevor Dunn's propulsive, hurtling locomotive bass, leading the band into a lurching rhythmic contortion of slowed and sped-up triplets.

"Paraplegic inhuman liar!"

A tight, heavy Rush-like rave-up has Patton on the CB radio muttering something indecipherable. A rapid turntable 'wicka-wicka-wicka' brings the porno groove back, punched up, loud, and un-subtle.

"Carve a smile / On your face / Everything's great / Suffocate!"

We drop into the Underworld. Dark growth of menace. Tribal drums building in volume and insistence. Something horrible is coming again! Smattering of voices babbling. Words begin to take shape. "Fuck", and "Don't you fucking look at me!" Hoarse and whispering turns gravelly then confrontational: "Don't you fucking look at me!"As the music coalesces into another forward thrust, Patton goes for maximum abrasion, wailing a distorted Johnny Rotten on-the-verge-of-vomit voice.

"It's beyond my control / it's beyond my control / it's beyond my control ? I'm comiiiiiiiiiing!"

A micro-flourish of sax announces a new section of full out prog metal. Epic Trey Spruance power chords punctuate a martial, end-of-the-world riff over a swirling, circular, odd-time Trevor Dunn bass and Heifetz drum pattern (The band knows this is an awesome section. They played it unchanged in the otherwise altered version of the song during their "California" shows. The appreciative audience, well-schooled in the ways of Bungle by this time, always got their mosh on during it!) A speed romp under 'Emergency' sirens brings us to a reprise of the chorus. Patton reminds us his "Ass is on Fire!" But there's more in store. A slow building death growl takes us into sludge, a stumbling rhythm for zombies, monotonous and irritating. Patton builds the vocal collage from Hell out of his best impish, snotty punk voice:

"Redundant / Redundant / Redun ? Redundant! / Redundant / Redun -!"

As the sludge oozes forth and the zombie march drones on, Patton's vocals multiply into sheer cacophony. Grinding destruction of all things in one Unholy Din! Here the band gives the listener yet ANOTHER chance to bail. It's a test. Can you be a masochist for your sadistic favorite band? They will demand it of you. Mr. Bungle actually enjoys the chance to annoy and even horrify their audience, and relishes the opportunity to maybe drive you away! Many can't take it, and either skip to the next tune or take it off. Those who endure are rewarded with the brief but humorous segue into the next song. The chaos ends all at once. A lone voice say's "Excuse me, I am lost. Please help me." The Chinese / Vietnamese or I- don't-know-what interpretation follows. "Te bouche. Wo me la lu. Chimme pow pow" (or something to that effect. That's phonetic. I don't know Chinese so gimme a break!) Voices are talking. A woman is telling Mr. Bungle that 'Villem' is fucking up his campaign by creating ads that are being laughed at, and that she could do a better job than "that turkey". Mr. Bungle, who is running for SOMETHING, responds that he never cared for Villem now that she mentions it, and that what she is saying is interesting. "In fact" he says "you are interesting."

Her: "Oh Mr. Bungle, I didn't know you were interested. And you will give me your account for my new agency?"

Mr. Bungle: "Later. We'll talk business later. First I want to make love to your beautiful, beautiful body!"

With an erotic sigh and the ensuing sounds of fucking, "The Girls of Porn" comes in with obligatory 'Shaft'-style wah guitar. Patton in announcer mode say's:

"Ok all you puss sucking motherfuckers out there, it's time to win a chance to butt-bang your daughters' tight virgin cherry ass to caller 666!"

A metal riff becomes a smooth bass and sax porn groove. Patton brings us into his auto- erotic world:

"The urge is too much to take / All I can think about is playing with myself / It's time to masturbate / I got my Hustler and I don't need nothin' else."

The Chorus says it all:

"My hand gets tired and my dick gets sore! / But the girls of porn want more / So I flip through the pages one more time / And I just let the jism fly."

In a hyper macho roar comes "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" and the metal riff returns. As one can guess, this tune has indeed often been singled out for criticism, i.e. that it is juvenile and ridiculous and gross, etc. But if you've made it this far into the album the only danger you will face with this song is possibly being bored by it, for compared to the rest of the material it is rather un-adventurous. It IS slick, sonically speaking, and amusing to those who can appreciate the 70's porn references to Ginger Lynn, The Devil and Mrs. Jones, Aja &John Holmes. And there's more!

"We got gushing gonads, tingling tushes / Hairy balls and hairy bushes / S&M and whips and chains / Pregnant ladies with menstrual pains." In a deep double-tracked voice reminiscent of some of the vocals in Zappa's work, Patton continues to list the cornucopia of delicious perversions:

"We got girls who'll eat your pee and poo / guys who'd love to fuck your shoe / There's she- males, lezbos, and shaved beav / And D-cup mamas with so much cleave / Senior citizens who love to watch / And sniff those skid marks from your crotch ? YEEAAAAAAH!"

-A snippet of a chick getting her brains fucked out, saying "Oh Mr. Bungle!" - and "Yeah!

Yeah! Yeah!" the metal riff returns. "I'd buy that for a dollar!" a voice say's, referencing 'Robocop'. Patton mimics a squealing sax and the song ends with a bang. But wait. We are in an alley somewhere. It sounds like more of the 4-track recording used in the intermission. Where have we ended up? The sounds of conflict can be heard, some old man yelling: "Put me down boy!" It feels voyeuristic. "I'll kill ya!" the old man yells. "I'll kill ya boy!"

"Love is a Fist" breaks through with the chunkiest, most brutal metal riff on the album, yet it doesn't last, sliding into a propulsive, odd meter bass and drum pattern, laced percussively with sax. Patton sings in a deeply resonant basso.

"Clenched emotion / Round my ween / feel my heart beat - off and your head in!" Out of a dreamy yet disconcerting reverie the message is delivered, and it is a simple one. "I feel" Patton croons, "strongly ? about violence!" which becomes an utterly distorted, deep- in-the-throat, sneering punk yell. Zorn takes an uncredited yet obvious solo here, strangling his sax in that squeaky-screechy way that only he can. Propelled by a merciless metal riff the demonic-thug chorus crushes your skull beneath steel-toed boots:

"Love is a fist! Live is a fist! Love is a fist!"

A chorused sax section takes us to another verse:

"There's no effort / To what's in / Open faced - knuckle sandwich!"

Another dreamy section sets in and extends itself, cresting (or bottoming?) with an oblique Ike & Tina Turner reference ("what's love got to do with it?") The violence returns, yelling belligerent voices, and "DOOOSH!" The thug chorus returns, trailing off into slowing, staggering chords and more squealing saxophone murder.

"Is a / Fist Love / Is a / Fist Love / Is a"

Grainy-sounding 'educational' film music comes in through a black and white portal from a 1950's classroom. A slightly muffled yet friendly projector voice say's "Just before lunch one day a puppet show was held at school. It was fun to watch." It is, in fact, the Lunchroom Manners film the band took its name from. "Mr. Bungle goes to the Boy's room. His hands are dirty and his hair is messy, but he doesn't stop to wash his hands or comb his hair, he goes right to lunch." The Children laugh. Mr. Bungle doesn't wait in line, he goes right to the front. The announcer must set things right for us:

"Even though the children laughed, no one thought that was a fair thing to do. In the lunchroom, Mr. Bungle was so clumsy and impolite he knocked over everything, and no one wanted to sit next to him. And when he knocked over his own tray, that was the end of the puppet show. Phillip knew that even though Mr. Bungle was funny to watch, he wouldn't be much fun to eat with. He knew Mr. Bungle wouldn't have many friends. He wouldn't want to be like Mr. Bungle."

"Alleyowup!" Patton yells, or something to that effect. "Dead Goon" begins with synth and cymbal washes, noisily plucked strings, and strange backwards sound effects. The circus theme is played out to the end with an oompa oompa walking bass and guitar-on-the- upbeat ska groove. Patton comes in with pitch-tuned vocals, a demonic cartoon character:

"Nobler than Oedipus / Clairvoyant and toothless / Foreplay with no friends / Premature until the end."

The carnival noise builds and, with a snare drums announcement ? dakka da da-dak! ? the grooviest Trevor Dunn fusion bass rolls in, weaving around and beneath Trey's funk guitar and Heifetz' multi-tracked drums and timbales. The effect is light and airy like Latin American Jazz. Patton sings in a high, pretty falsetto:

"I've got a secret / Babbling senseless / No one will ever know / Kids can be so cruel / Smash the feeling / Suckle the sugar breast."

With a drum and key "da-da da da-da Woooooosh!" the music returns to circus mode. Patton croons in his hyper-macho basso, clowning it up with exaggerated inflections:

"Too happy ? A jerk beyond a smile / An asphyxiophile / I'm the Humper / Stop hitting me / Walking the plank, swallowing dirt / Johnny is just skin and juice and hair, a hero unaware / Tied in a knot beneath giggling / My own two hands tickling me."

What is it all about? The key is the word "asphyxiophile", meaning one who loves the sensation of asphyxiating, auto-erotic style.

And like so many stories we have heard about people who do this, this one doesn't turn out well (though even that is a matter of perspective!) Patton returns with the deep pitch-tuned vocals:

"Playing Solitaire / A rope and mommy's underwear / Hanging on, letting go / Dangling to and fro!" A desperate, full-throated "NNNOOOOOOOO!" sets the carousel of music spinning. An insistent siren-like rhythm emerges, guitar and synth notes playing the downbeat in unison. Trevor Dunn and Heifetz play a halting start-stop bass and drum counterpoint against it and through it, building in complexity to a jaw-dropping, stumbling-up-the- staircase fusion run that is simply indescribable in words. Patton shrieks from the top of his register and slides slowly to the bottom, letting it echo into the vast distance, resolving into an 'Exorcist'-type demon vocal:

"It can't happen! It can't happen!" Slowing down and dropping even further in pitch, descending: "It?can't?happen! It?.can't??.happen?.."

A rope creaks, swaying with the weight of the dangling body it holds. Ooooops! Keyboard notes reminiscent of Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant play sparse, Martian-like rhythmic patterns. Strange sounds and snippets of other melodies float by, drifting away. So relaxing after all that! Patton's voice echoes in and out: "Floating away / tingling / Fluid seeping / Family weeping / It feels so good / So bad / But please?don't tease me." A rumble grows, a rising vortex of sound. The cacophony crescendos to a peak then whisks away in silence.

Silence.

Haunting elevator music wafts in, the ghost of a lost era: 1940's hotels on Sunset Strip; Victorian galas on a doomed ship. An accordion plays nostalgic schmaltz, beautiful and ghastly. This last minute, end-of-the-disc hallucinatory collage reveals itself, on repeated listenings, to be a brilliant exercise in transitions between disparate pieces of music. A string section reeking of mothballs becomes a shimmering shower of bells, twinkling. And it's over.

Over?with a blessed 30+ seconds at the beginning before the towering Himalayan power chords return to start the whole ride over again!

werbinox | 5/5 |

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