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
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.