6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Disco Volante (Audio CD)
It will sound like I'm contradicting myself somewhat here but this is the least coherent Mr. Bungle album and yet also their best. There are quite a lot of frankly dull moments that should really not have been included on the album but you can completely and whole heartedly forgive them because when the album excels, it's such sublime, awe inspiring music like you've never heard before and makes Disco Volante Mr. Bungle's masterpiece.
Disco Volante was a radical departure from their excellent debut - being even more experimental. Tracks this time round are more concerned with atmosphere, soundscapes, novel orchestrations and less concerned with structure often opting for an improvisational approach - it's only when you listen more closely that you realize these seemingly improvised passages are simultaneously played by guitar or saxophone or vocals - it's all completely pre-conceived, pre notated and illustrates the time and effort that must have been put into this record.
Like Mr. Bungle's other two albums, Disco Volante is wonderfully melodic, original and inspired in the way tracks will expertly incorporate an array of musical styles seamlessly and is impossible to pigeonhole. There's a heavy flavour of free form jazz here but as this is Mr. Bungle, you also get techno, metal, grindcore, cartoon music, seaside pier keyboards...the list goes on. I'll concentrate my review on the good stuff...
Chemical Marriage is a little gem and combines some of the free form jazz flavour, end of pier Hammond organ colour and eerie atmospherics. Great vocals by Patton here.
Carry Stress In The Jaw is very jazzy with improvised sax and vocal passages and is interrupted by perfectly timed passages of full on metal. It is followed by a humorous `hidden' track which sounds like a cover of an `oldie' but I can't remember what. It is given a jazzy makeover with more great vocals and a very funny impersonation of Grandpa Simpson from The Simpsons.
Desert Search For Techno Allah is nothing short of genius. Middle Eastern melodies, percussion and lyrics are married perfectly with an array of techno dance beats, giving way to moments of distorted guitar. There is only one word to describe the electric guitar ending - stylish...real stylish.
Violenza Domestica is another highlight. It starts off sounding like a cue from a horror movie (listen out for the brief passage played by accordion and what sounds like a didgeridoo - brilliant!) before developing into a dreamy, melodic passage. It then twists and turns, sounding French one minute and then becoming a little Tango the next. It just keeps moving forward, every new little musical idea given a different musical treatment and it all flows perfectly.
Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz is often cited as a favourite among Bungle fans and rightly so - only Mr. Bungle could be bonkers enough to come up with such entertaining, funny brilliance! It starts with a Middle Eastern riff played on Hammond organ and then develops into an exciting scurrying rhythm with Patton absolutely hilarious, sounding like some sort of mischievous munchkin! It then develops into a crazy jazzy passage recalling John Williams' Cantina music from Star Wars - all interspersed perfectly with moments of metal and Looney Tunes cartoon music! Pure and utter brilliance with some great guitar work.
Backstrokin' is another gem with two distinct halves. The first with a catchy bass riff and keyboards is interrupted with a melodic Hammond organ passage with distorted bass and a steel drum effect.
Merry Go Bye-Bye is so frustrating because it could have been one of Mr. Bungle's best ever tracks but is ruined by a lack of restraint. It starts off like a terrifically catchy piece of rock-and-roll with Patton great, sounding like an American high school nerd. It's really catchy but is rudely interrupted by 3 minutes of metal, grindcore and sci-fi ray gun sound effects. The ending reprises the beginning and fades out beautifully with some of Patton's best ever singing. It is amazing to hear him sounding like Elvis Presley one minute and then a death metal front man the next but they have ultimately ruined what could have been a really great track. Shame.
Mr. Bungle are like the Coen brothers of the music world - their work is quirky, intelligent, technically dazzling, intricate and they are able to harness various different styles and genres perfectly into one work. Also like the Coens, one could argue that their work is more concerned with style over substance. It's true, you don't listen to Mr. Bungle expecting poetic love ballades, grungy teen-angst anthems or passionate diatribes against government corruption. Lyrics take a back seat here; they are often obscure, inaudible or even in another language. Mr. Bungle's work is for people who can appreciate the finer details of music without needing a viewpoint or specious emotion to go with it. Mr. Bungle is about showing off unbelievable musical and compositional talent, showing off their huge musical vocabulary, showing what can be done with today's technology and about producing some of the best in modern music. How could you ever listen to another lazy 3-piece rock band again...?