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253 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 13, 1999
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California + Disco Volante + Mr Bungle
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wildly warped and ingeniously intriguing, Mr. Bungle's third album is evidence of a rock band pretendiing to have roots in rock music. California explores an ambiance new to Mr. Bungle, conjuring up the sultry dance moves of Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire; digging through the graveyard of riffs to find English Pop, Elvis, Neil Diamond and Michael Jackson. More meticulously orchestrated, more guided by mistake than their previous releases, California proves that Mr. Bungle cannot escape it's twisted past or twisted future.

Nobody ever accused Mr. Bungle of being suckers for a good melody. The syncopated blasts of cartoonish noise that fill 1991's Mr. Bungle and 1995's Disco Volante are one part speed metal and one part Speedy Gonzalez. Initially, the band served as a more aggressive outlet for singer Mike Patton, widely known for his work in Faith No More. But with Faith No More no more, Patton and Mr. Bungle decided to sweeten the Bungle batter with a little songcraft. California boasts harmonies (yes, harmonies!) that would make the Brothers Wilson proud. Opening with a chorus of seagulls and crashing waves that gives way to slide guitar, strings, and Patton singing (not screaming), the poppy yet symphonic "Sweet Charity" announces that this is not your bike messenger's Mr. Bungle album. Songs like the easy strummin' "Retrovertigo," the sultry Scott Walker-esque "Pink Cigarette," and the orchestral "Vanity Fair" make California 1999's golden-hair surprise. --Bill Crandall

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 13, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros / Wea
  • ASIN: B00000JG41
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,248 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on April 21, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Some would say this is Mr. Bungle's most normal album. But really, what does that mean? In the world of Mr. Bungle, "normal" is a relative measure. A "normal" Mr. Bungle song might still be the craziest music you've ever heard. On California, the songs maintain the backbone elements of Mr. Bungle: wacky lyrics, insane hops from style to style, and all around weirdness.
"Ars Moriendi" is pure aural insanity. What kind of song brings together Arabian melodies, gypsy music, and grindy speed metal? Why, a Mr. Bungle song, of course! This is one of their craziest songs ever, and will sit well with fans of the band's zanier moments.
How about "Pink Cigarette"? With lyrics like, "Your kiss...touches everything but me," you might think this is an emotional, sad song. NEVER! Mr. Bungle waxes the cheese big-time, with Patton's emotional histrionics and the melodramatic orchestrations being far from heartbreaking. I love it; it's amusingly cheesy because the band obviously knows it's cheesy. Patton even makes fun of the turgid "ahhhh" backing vocals that were prevalent in the 50s and 60s. This band is the best.
Mr. Bungle has been accused of not knowing the value of a song, but their versatility never ceases to amaze and they definitely know how to compose. "The Holy Filament" is a bombastic new age piece with exquisite keyboards and very lush orchestrations that ooze grandeur and magnificence. It's very...unlike most of the band's work, but it fits because there are no rules in Mr. Bungle's game.
"Goodbye Sober Day" throws Balinese chants, lounge music, and thick-azz metal into a blender with acid and serves up a smooth mix.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
If ever a CD was designed to be utterly fantastic then this is definately the one! After a disturbingly long period of time since 1995's surreal-yet-brilliant album, 'Disco Volante', Mr. Bungle have returned with 45 minutes of musical genius. From the first soothing melodies that introduce the record, to its cacophonous finale, 'California' is without doubt the best record of the year. Plus it further enforces the respect fans have for a band that can say "Hey, did you like our last record? Well, this new one's nothing like it!". Mike Patton is simply a joy to listen to, his range of vocal styles covering every inch of catagorisable music genres and not letting up for a split-second. The band behind him are equally phenomenal, creating songs that include a genuine love ballad with no reference to porn or sex with food! Is this the same band that released the self-titled debut record in 1991? You wouldn't guess it to hear them now. Ultimately this album is damn amazing, blowing me away more than any Faith No More (Mike Patton's other band that have now split) album has - a feat that I definately expect from Mr. Bungle! God bless them all!!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on April 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"California" is a stunning record-- breezy, harmony laden, off kilter music, embracing and disgarding dozens of genres. In many ways, it also for me appears to be the most heavily influenced by Mike Patton. His penchant for theatrical and somewhat overblown (not necessarily a bad thing) comes out pretty heavily in this one. Mind you, I approach this from a drastically different standpoint than many others-- I came to Patton from John Zorn and am a huge Beach Boys fan, and in many ways, this sort of sounds like the two of them were the peak influences. Take "Air-Conditioned Nightmare", with its syncopated, vocal driven rhythms, bringing up and disgarding genres with an ease that only John Zorn seems to manage well.

Overall, the album feels like a psychotic lounge record-- its a number of ballad forms that dominate the record, but they're all really engaging and worth repeated listens-- check out "Sweet Charity", the brilliant "Retrovertigo" (if Patton's singing at the chorus doesn't stop you in your tracks, I don't know what will), or "Pink Cigarette". Mind you, the emphasis on ballads shouldn't distract from other great song fomrs, the album dives into the totally bizarre on pieces like "None of Them Knew They Were Robots" and "Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy", maintaining a stunning level of quality.

As if this wasn't enough, the Brian Wilson influence exerts in the production too-- the album has that same sort of Phil Spector/Brian Wilson lush wall-of-sound genius production vibe that you really don't get anymore.

In the end, the record is brilliant, start to finish. Its a shame we'll probably never see anything else from this ensemble (details are sketchy, but my guess is that Patton and Spruance are unwilling or unable to reach anything resembling common ground on either a personal or musical level anymore). Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C.Dumas on September 29, 2010
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
A brilliant album, of course. But like the notorious vinyl reissue of the first Bungle album, this is not a good purchase. The mastering is extremely quiet; I found I had to turn the volume to nearly twice the level that my turntable normally requires, and because of that, the sound distorts. Some might say that this is necessary because of the way the album was recorded (multi-tracked, full-frequency, etc), but I don't think this is the case. It's a shame, because this album was clearly destined for vinyl (ten songs in 45 minutes, the 60s-style cover, etc). Warner Bros. should have done it themselves back in 1999, but oh well.
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