6 of 7 thought this review was well written
Mr Bungle – Disco Volante
Mr. Bungle do not make conventional music. Mr. Bungle do not create anything that even vaguely resembles conventional music. In fact, Mr. Bungle have not even the desire to create conventional music, and for this reason alone they are bloody brilliant.
Disco Volante is the band’s second major label release, and is regarded as their weirdest. The band blend jazz, punk, eastern music, death metal, carnival music and lounge music to create a sound of their very own, and it sounds like a pretty bad acid trip.
Opener “Everyone I went to high school with is dead" kicks the album off pretty well. It’s a bass heavy track, with chanting vocals from the entire band. It’s kind of weird the first time you hear it, but compared to the rest of the album, it’s pretty regular. It continues in a similar fashion throughout, and mid-way through we are introduced to a typical Bungle technique, the idea of lead “noise". Where most band would place a guitar solo, Mr. Bungle place noise. Generally this is feedback of some description or a bunch of random sound effects. These can be anything from breaking glass to Patton yelling randomly to a bomb exploding. It looks weird written down like that, but it sounds a whole lot weirder. The second track “Chemical Marriage" is an instrumental, but don’t think this counts Patton out. Patton isn’t exactly a regular vocalist, and prefers to use his voice like another instrument. Mr. Bungle was his first band, and through it he was recognised as an exceptional talent and led to him being recruited as vocalist for Faith No More. This song sounds like carnival music, but it’s one of those carnivals where everyone there is trying to kill you in brutal and horrific ways, and you’re having an acid trip at the same time. It’s genius, to sum up. It’s actually quite catchy.
“Carry stress in the jaw" is a nine minute long epic, comprising two distinctly separate halves. It begins with a bit of a sax and bass improvisation, then the drums kick in and Patton starts to sing. What he’s singing however, is a bit of a mystery. It’s a laid back lounge pace song, rudely interrupted by the sound of guitar periodically. There’s a bit more improvisation on the sax then the guitar picks up the theme of the song. In the space of a minute its turned from lounge into metal with sax. This is the genius of Mr. Bungle. The drumming in this song is pretty good too, and Danny sounds like he’s about to die the whole time. There’s a quieter sax and vocal bit next, which then becomes a catchy sax and guitar melody. These sections then repeat in no real order, and the song suddenly stops. Dunn begins to mimic the voice of an old man, and the next part of the song begins. This half is a keyboard led funk part, and aswell as being HUGELY catchy, has a rather funny section where Dunn sings “Waaa waa waa" in the old man voice. Worth listening to just for the laughs (Thanks to lintmunro for correcting me there).
The next song is pretty odd too. “Desert search for techno Allah" is an ethnic-metal-techno song, as the name somewhat implies. Yes, that’s right. TECHNO. But wait, the band have actually achieved the impossible, and made techno music acceptable. Maybe it’s because the rock outweighs it, but for some reason when the techno section rolls around I am not inclined to turn it off. This song is brilliant, and probably one of the best on the album.
“Violenza Domestica" is a strange song, and as the title implies, it’s about domestic violence. Or at least I think it is. Patton sings this song in what sounds like Italian/Latin American. At the start of the song, there is a sound clip of knives being rubbed together, and some more freaky sound bites in the background. It then descends into what I can only describe as “Italian street music". Yeah, crap description I know, but if you hear it you’ll understand what I mean. Patton shows of his voice pretty well here, and the music reflects his mood, as he gets angrier and angrier. To contrast this song, “After school special" is a strange tribute to mothers everywhere. It’s the most normal song on the album sticking solely to the lounge style, and features the bizarre chorus, “She cooks, She cleans, She lies". Make of that what you will then.
“Phlegmatics" is next, and begins with a pretty heavy death metal intro before randomly changing into sax drums and vocals. There’s a pretty good atmosphere created by Dunn and the sax players here, quite creepy. There’s some more sax, and then the song just ends. “Ma meeshka mow skwoz" is the catchiest track on the album featuring an unforgettable sax line and some pretty odd vocals from Patton in what sounds like some Far Eastern European language. It’s mainly keyboard and vocal led, with the other instruments coming and going as needed - there’s even a death metal reprisal and as the song fades out, it suddenly comes back with Patton screaming randomly. Patton’s vocals really shine here.
The next track is possibly the weirdest on the album. “The bends" contains very few real lyrics and instead is just a series of soundscapes created by various members of the band. I wont spoil it for you, possibly because it’s too weird to describe. The first few times you hear this song, you are left thinking “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?" but after a while it starts to make a bit of sense.
“Backstokin’" is a short track, in the surf style. There’s not a lot to say about it really, but about 30 seconds from the end it suddenly stops and changes tack. Weird. It precedes another pretty weird track “Platypus". As the title implies, this is a song about a Platypus, and how eventually he is cut open to discover what he is. The lyrics are pretty odd to be frank, but there’s a pretty cool stereo effect on them. The sax players show up pretty well here. This son encompasses most of the styles on the album. The bass is the main instrument in this song, and shows us the talent of Dunn. The death metal ending is a great contrast to the start of the next song.
“Merry go bye bye" is one of my favourite songs on the album. IT starts off in the 50’s pop style very reminiscent of the crap film “Grease" but halfway through the chorus, it randomly changes into full pelt DEATH METAL!!! There’s some of that “lead noise" for about 2/3 minutes, and a short jazz interlude, before a proper bit of death metal. I love this bit of the song, and it’s a shame it fades away so quickly back to the pop bit. Oh well, it’s still a brilliant way to end the album.
This isn’t an album for most people. You have to have a REALLY open mind about music before you even consider Mr. Bungle. The first time I listened to this, I sat and thought “What the hell have I bought???" but give it a chance, it’s now one of my favourite albums. If you want to get into Mr. Bungle, try “California" or their self titled debut, as they’re more easily accessible. However, for something more “out there" buy this, it’s brilliant.