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Disco Volante

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★★★★½
(113 Reviews)

Mr. Bungle Biography - Mr. Bungle Discography - All Heavy Metal Bands

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  • Rock

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US 180 Gram Vinyl Pressing. One of the most uncompromising and adventurous major label releases of the ’90s, Mr. Bungle’s second album, originally released in 1995, an ’alternative’ record only in the vaguest sense of the word. Incorporating Death Metal, free Jazz, experimental Electronica, and ambient soundtracks, along with Mike Patton’s outrageous vocal style, ’Disco volante’ is probably the most important and groundbreaking release of Patton’s storied career, and that’s saying a lot.Imagine Frank Zappa composing the soundtrack for Ed Wood’s Plan Nine from Outer Space, or the Residents unleashing a techno-dance project: that should give you some idea of Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante, an album of cheesy synthesizers, mangled disco beats, virtuosic playing, and juvenile noises. Like the Residents, Mr. Bungle is a Northern California band that obscures its true identity (it shares members with Faith No More) by prohibiting photos of its members and by using such funny names as I Quit (the drummer) and Uncooked Meat Prior to State Vector Collapse (the keyboardist). Like Zappa, the Mr. Bungle musicians like to show off their classical, jazz, and worldbeat influences in fast, difficult passages that are technically impressive but never seem to go anywhere. All but three of the album’s dozen pieces feature lyrics, but the vocals are so deeply buried in the mix that the words are virtually indecipherable. The pieces are more accurately described as aural montages than songs, for short sections erupt and suddenly disappear, replaced by another passage just as well played and just as clever but with little connection to what preceded it. For listeners who enjoy the constant surprise of such arbitrary musical detours, Mr. Bungle provides much better musicianship than the Residents but less coherence than Zappa. –Geoffrey Himes

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  • This will be one of the most bizarre albums you will ever hear, as well as one of the best. Mr. Bungle (led by ex-Faith No More singer Mike Patton) crafts a sound that can described as, at the least, creative, and at the most, spectacular. “Disco Volante” is WAY outside the mainstream. The songs on here are hard to describe but here goes.”Everyone I Went To High School With Is Dead”-An all out sludge-fest. Probably the most mainstream song on the album without even being mainstream.”Chemical Marriage”-Sort of continues the circus music sound of their debut. “Carry Stress In The Jaw”-Improv jazz/metal stylings. Also has “The Secret Song” which sounds like Grandpa Simpson singing along to Addams Family music in a spy film. Excellent.”Desert Search For Techno Allah”-Just what the title says. Sounds like homemade Arabian techno.”Violenza Domestica”-Sounds like the soundtrack to an italian horror film. Complete with dialoge.”After School Special”-Chilling song. Great keyboards. Sort of addresses child abuse.”Phlegmatics”-Another jazz/metal improv.”Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz”-Probably the most bizarre and outrageous song on the album. The lyrics seem to be in a language all it’s own.”The Bends”-Close your eyes and try to imagine a story set to the music. “Backstrokin’”-Sort of a doo-wop companion piece to “The Bends”.”Platypus”-Another jazz/metal improv piece. “Merry Go Bye Bye”-Starts out as a cheesy lounge number (in no means a bad way), then sonically assaults you with death metal riffage.

    Posted on February 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • No big secret: Mr. Bungle is weird. But what seperates Mike Patton & Co. from the Insane Clown Posses, Slipknots, and Mudvaynes of the world is the fact that they understand what music is. They believe in challenging themselves and their fans while other acts put themselves into artistic cruise control by putting out the same album over and over. You see, the first album was a somewhat juvenile cicus/punk/funk/metal/sleaze fest, the magnificent third album California was strangely accessible with a few songs that could pass for (GASP!!!) pop, and the one here in between,… Well I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet. A few songs that illustate the album’s insanity include:1. Everybody I Went…- A Melvins style sludge number with no regard for melody whatsoever. What made this song so bizarre is that it is one of the more accessible songs on the album.2. Carry Stress in the Jaw – The first half of the song consists unorthodox but disciplined drumming, a quote from Edgar Allen Poe, Patton’s lounge lizard vocals, and a thrash metal guitar that doesn’t quite match the rhythm. The second half is good ol’ funky surf rock with Granpa Simpson singing lead vocals. ROCK ON, ABRAHAM!!!3. Desert Search for Techno Allah – Middle Eastern techno, Okay?4. Afterschool Special – Nice breezy pop that sounds like something the Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family would sing along to. However, if they knew what they were singing about, they would die of sheer fright.5. The Bends – A ten-minute plus aquatic epic of sorts that throughout its duration is groovy, hilarious, scary, strange, beautiful, trippy, but never boring. Try listening to the “scream” effect toward the end in the dark with headphones alone. If you don’t, you’re cheating yourself. 6. Platypus – Imagine Black Sabbath jamming with a vaudeville band.7. Merry-Go-Bye-Bye – They saved the best for last. What starts out as a country/rockabilly ditty switches into Slipknot style death metal: minus the insipid profane and misanthropic lyrics.Strange stuff indeed. I respect anyone who disagrees with me on this point but the sole reason I can’t give this album five stars is the fact that I can’t recommend this to the average music listener. Some of the songs are so unstructured and left-of-center, you begin to wonder if it can still be called music. I have to deduct a half-star with a heavy heart. But one more thing before I submit my review, how can you possibly go wrong with a member who calls himself (I apologize if I’m not totally accurate) Uncooked Meat Prior to State Vector Collapse. I wish Mom and Dad would have named me that.Overall rating: 4.5 stars.

    Posted on February 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Welcome to Mr. Bungle’s dark opus, Disco Volante. Here is the true meaning of music that is ahead of its time, or perhaps, outside of time all together. A mind-bending meld of vocal mayhem, anarchic analog synth, dyslexic, crumbling percussion, serial killer inspired guitars, and nightmarish horns glue together an unethical display of experimental music that demands the deepest attention, the most honest listening effort; and thus, the listener is rewarded with something that they have never experienced before. Here, the currently disbanded act of Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn, Danny Heifetz, and Bar McCinnon prove that there are no boundries in music.

    They use all kinds of genres mashed into songs for this album, as I have stated earlier. Doom metal transitions into smooth jazz; thick analog keyboards layer over progressive drum beats and middle eastern guitar scales; crooning fades into metal growling; funk bass meets carnival style, odd-timed clarinets; hard-core punk with static samples transforms into extreme ambience; classical horns and strings are accompanied with the sounds of glass breaking and chains being pulled through metal holes; and all of the while, these seperate parts start and stop in a malicous, schizophrenic time signature that neither give you enough time to jam out to it, nor do they leave you dissatisfied. It is all done perfectly. It is more like a complicated symphony than an album, really. Every song has it’s place, and there are few similarities among them. The only thing that remains at a constant is the pure excitement of the pieces, the stunning complexity, and the amazing vocal range of Mr. Patton himself.

    This is my favorite album of all time. Mr. Bungle changed my ideals of music, and it was mostly due to Disco Volante. In a way, they are fighting against fake, shallow musicians who try to appeal to everyone at once, make a quick million, and then fall off the face of the earth and are never heard from again. Bungle knew that not everyone could listen to this. It took a certain type of ear, a special off balance quality that everyone has, but that shallow people will deny and point fingers at. I respect people that give an open mind to this album and still hate it, but not to people that hear it and say “this is so weird, what is this. It’s not music!” They, in my mind, are the enemy of expression. I don’t hate anybody, but I have no interest or respect for those who will dislike something just because they don’t understand it. This, in my mind, is America’s sickness.

    I don’t care what kind of music you listen to. All I have to say is listen to this album a few times in your life. You may hate it, you may be completely blown away, but whatever happens, approach it in a way that you can keep an open mind towards it, and remember that it will probably be different than anything you have ever heard. And if you like it, congratulations, because you have just walked into a larger world of music, and you’ll find that there are so many things happening with innovative, experimental music, you’ll probably never be able to hear all of it. Enjoy, and stay creative with whatever you do in life. It’s what makes us human! Take a cue from Mr. Bungle, and be yourself.

    Posted on February 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Well, Mr. Bungle isn’t a person — more of an entity — but it’s still just about the greatest musical project ever conceived (give or take). But beware…coming into physical contact with this CD may cause catastrophic mental discorporation. Actually, I think it’s pretty hilarious when one-star reviews say, “How can anyone give this five-stars?” I’m giving it the highest rating here, but honestly…I have no idea why! This CD has caused irreparable injury to my poor mind. Mr. Bungle’s second album, Disco Volante, is just as hard to describe as the first, perhaps more so. While the first was a sort of circus-funk-metal-crusher-miscellaneous album, this one can’t be broken down as easily. Some songs employ thrashy metal, others smooth jazz, and others techno. So what is it? It’s just Mr. Bungle.”Desert Search for Techno Allah” is phat techno with a Middle Eastern flavor. “The Bends” is an epic, atmospheric journey with an ending that sounds like a 747 is landing on top of you. “Carry Stress in the Jaw” mixes tasty circus jazz with hectic metal and what I’d call a “performance under pressure” by vocalist Mike Patton. For the second half of this track, “The Secret Song” makes an appearance, featuring an old man (sounding like Grampa Simpson, performed by Trevor Dunn) who excitedly sings about discovering the secret song! “Violenza Domenstica” sounds like a schizophrenic horror movie soundtrack. “Backstrokin’” continues “The Bends”‘ aquatic sonics with a 50s-style rock/R&B factor. “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead” is a sludgy mess of distorted guitars that works strangely like a hypnotizing mantra. “Merry Go Bye Bye” is like rockabilly-Muzak (or easy pop, maybe). It explodes into a thrash/death fest with some crazy keyboard effects. “Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz” is an exhilarating cartoon-like piece with a language of its own. And there’s more!Mr. Bungle is better.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • It’s hard to believe a band that only survived through three albums could have covered the mind-numbing amount of ground Mr Bungle did. The reason this group’s criminally brief discography eclipses those of bands with two, three, four times the number of releases is because they had no boundaries. Everything was fair game. No style was too straight or difficult to twist into irreverant perversion, no lyrics too ridiculous or offensive. The self-titled debut tore into the jazz influences of Naked City’s John Zorn with a ridiculously bombastic blend of heavy metal, porno antics, and freak-out circus swing. The third and final venture, California, took a similarly eclectic swipe at sun-bleached surf rock. And all the while the members retained a level of phenomenal talent and composition.

    Disco Volante is, stylistically and thematically and everything-else-ally, Mr Bungle’s most difficult period. It takes more time to fully swallow and the hooks are not as immediate or obvious. For that reason it’s probably not as wise a place to start as the aforementioned albums. For the same reason it is, in my opinion, the most rewarding thing this band has done.

    Not to say there aren’t moments of pure pop jubilation (check out the last half of “Carry Stress in the Jaw”), but overall this is a living, breathing creature far too complex to be experienced as simply a series of tunes or experiments. At times the album leaps into operatic binges of sonic juxstaposition, clashing sounds together to create jarring, psychadelic effect. At other times the music creeps along in subtle melody, pulling imagery out of the headphones without needing to resort to saturating lyrical exposition. In fact, the lyrical content here is mostly of the absurd, dreamscape variety. Some of the content is even disturbing, particularly on sinisterly retrospective cuts like “Everyone I Went to Highschool With is Dead” and “After School Special”.

    The end result is a surreal masterpiece that’s all but impossible to describe. Don’t be fooled into thinking Disco Volante is a mish-mash of over the top theatrics. It’s musical. Exceedingly musical. The ideas here sparked some of the most prolific projects of the Bungle members post break-up. “Desert Search for Techno Allah”, a track for a Buddhist cult on LSD, very much gives a glimpse into what would become the defining epic-world sound of Trey Spruance’s Secret Chiefs 3. “The Bends”, a narrative piece split into several distinct “sections” or “sub-plots”, would be expanded upon later in Mike Patton’s Fantomas project, particularly on the sprawling Delirium Cordia.

    Of course, Disco Volante will always stand on it’s own, even among the albums of a group notorious for innovation. I can’t listen to it straight through without being blown away or finding myself absorbed in a a musical element I had never noticed before. For that reason, and also because it’s just an incredibly orchestrated piece of art, Disco Volante is probably my favorite album of the nineties. Buy it. Immediately. You’ll probably hate it.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now