Review Summary: Tub Ring is a Mr. Bungle with the meat cut off its tracks. Here, you won't find any enigmatic, eight minute opuses; it's an example, if you will, of what Mr. Bungle's first album could have sounded like, had it not remained gigantic.
Two years prior, Mr. Bungle had released its final album, California. The band's resolution was merely speculation at this point, due to its tendency to space out its albums' releases over long time-spans. Other bands, in marvel of the strange, circus-themed styles of the Bungle, were beginning to pop up and deliver their own, respective clown-based messages. Then Tub Ring, inspired by its keyboarder, Rob Kleiner, released its first full-length album. With a healthy allocation of Kleiner's Bungle-filled background, the band delivered something that could have easily been a nightmare that Mike Patton had had.
Although Drake Equation is the band's first feature length presentation, it's very well-composed, and, providing the fact that Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle's guitarist) produced it, there's little question as to why. The singer's voice is tinted with a Mike-Patton-ish edge, like a screaming, tortured Weird Al, told to sing about ripping the flesh from virgins instead of his usual, 70's blend. Intertwined and intermixed with the curious vocals, there are heavy guitars and frenetic keyboarding; oh, and don't forget the common addition of the oh-so-normally-used banjo and accordion. And where would an album of such enormous proportions be without mood changes? Each song, the band utilizes versatility; they'll hurl something at you that could have been made by the Beach Boys, only to immediately shift to a heavier assault of raging guitars and some hastily shouted freak-outs. With these tools of destruction, Tub Ring goes to work slaying your eardrums.
The album is chock full of great sounding, inventive creations like "Bite the Wax Tadpole" and "Good Food: Happy Family;" they put strain on rock's conventions by creating choruses and verses that have unique instrumental combinations and somehow, despite their weirdness, flow perfectly together. To fill the space in between, the band slips into a softer mood with songs like "Numbers," or throws something smooth and jazzy at you like "She's the Pro." The album's final track, which goes untitled, is like a tip-of-the-hat to those that could sit through the entire thing; it contains no vocals, only a catchy electronic-drum-beat-laced-space-adventure-theme-song-like composition.
Tub Ring's first album is, without a doubt, a finely-executed expansion on the idea that Mr. Bungle left in their wake. Whether you like weird rock or having your brain tangled in something sonically confounding, Drake Equation can and will provide. After giving it a few listens, you'll be able to get off that lazy afternoon couch and proclaim, "it's a worthy tribute."