Review Summary: Disco Volante is an album we should all listen to at some point in our lives, even if we drive ourselves mad while doing so.
As human beings, we all desire to be unconventional in one way or another. To rebel against the social norm. To fight back against what society deems as “proper” or “correct.” To be like Mr. Bungle and do whatever you damn well please without limits or bounds, ignoring peoples’ expectations of you.
In 1995, Mr. Bungle, a band already infamous for their unconventionality, released an album that would redefine the word “experimental” for years to come. The album, entitled Disco Volante
, ditched the jazzy, self-described “funk-metal” of Mr. Bungle’s eponymous debut in exchange for a more electronic, avant-garde sound. While Disco Volante
is considered by some to be the low point of Mr. Bungle’s illustrious career, people tend to overlook that the album was also arguably the band’s creative peak. Each and every song radiates with wonder; a surprise present in a box, begging to be unwrapped. Just like a proper unconventionalist, Mr. Bungle play by their own rules on this album. There is no telling what random combination of genres each song will convey, be it Middle Eastern-techno (“Desert Search For Techno Allah”), Jazzy-electronic-tribal music (“Chemical Marriage”), or Pop-Black Metal-Noise rock (“Merry Go Bye-Bye”). Needless to say, it turned quite a few heads upon release, and is still confusing people to this very day. Still, the album has stood the test of time as a one of a kind contribution to the experimental genre, and is a fascinating experience that can never be recreated.
is an enigma; it is an experience unlike any other. It is a nightmarish concoction of the most sickening ingredients one can possibly fathom. The album’s sound is ugly, mean-spirited, distasteful, disgusting, and dreadful; it is an unpleasant listening experience, to say the least. However, what makes Disco Volante
such a triumph is the expert way in which the album was molded. It is not the music itself that makes the album so captivating, but the experience as a whole. Although reviews of this album which break it apart and evaluate the music track-by-track are populous in number and easy to write, each one of them have completely missed the mark and do the album no justice. When each track is discussed individually, the album appears to be a disjointed mess of noisy nonsense and random experimentation with little redeeming value outside of the tracks “Desert Search For Techno Allah,” “Chemical Marriage,” and “Carry Stress In the Jaw,” which, despite containing characteristics of Mr. Bungle’s bizarre avant-garde on some level, are all seemingly still rooted in the real world. For instance, it is easy to dismiss opener “Everyone I Went To Highschool With Is Dead,” a sloppy bass-driven song with chanted vocals, which may be one of the ugliest songs ever recorded. The song appears to be of no redeeming value, and its purpose on the album is not made apparent until the next track, “Chemical Marriage,” begins to play. Both songs inexplicably work wonderfully together, with the nastiness of “Everyone…” juxtaposing the fine-tuned, conventional nature of the following track in the most perfect fashion.
While the songs themselves have absolutely no structure, the album has a certain flow; a natural progression from song-to-song which is bound to keep the listener’s attention throughout. No matter how unpleasantly one song may have ended, the unpredictable nature of the album, derived from Mr. Bungle’s manic “genre-mashing,” keeps Disco Volante
sounding consistently fresh and inspired. Although some songs may become intolerable near their conclusions, such as“ The Bends,” which ends with ear-splitting static, or the disturbing, child-like voice at the end of “After School Special,” the listener will always remain captivated enough to continue listening, as the next track is guaranteed to bring something new and unexpected to the table. With Disco Volante
, Mr. Bungle have crafted an album which must be viewed as a whole as opposed to by its parts, making it the most unique album in the band’s entire discography.
When referring to Disco Volante
, people seem to enjoy drawing comparisons between the album and to what one may experience under the influence of narcotics. I, however, think that Sputnikmusic user “InbredJed” said it best when he first recommended the album to me and described, in his own words, that listening to this album is akin to watching a movie. In many respects this is so; mostly in that the album feels like a complete, cohesive experience with a natural flow. Although it is frequently off-the-wall, and its pace often meanders, Disco Volante
is one of the most eclectic and intriguing releases of all time.
I leave you now with a quote taken from the album, one that I believe sums up my thoughts on Disco Volante
better than I could ever have said so myself:
“Bboawogh c wha fftyk onsk oooeeh oooeeh yeefm loolt msten!”
-"Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz"