on May 8, 2000
Imagine the following situation: Its 1991, Mr. Bungle is suggested to me from my brother, who is currently discovering cool music in college. I'm in ninth grade. That night while doing my homework, I popped in Mr. Bungle. I remember everything up to this point very clearly.
The next hour is gone.
What I do remember is the true Fear that I felt when the album stopped spinning and I came to. Fear of how closed minded my musical sence was. Fear of what I didn't know or understand. My head hurt. How could someone have even thought up this delightfully evil music? Who was this Vlad Drac fellow and what planet was he from? The only reasonable explanation at the time was that I had witnessed the music of Satan, himself.
So, I quickly called all of my friends and within days, I distributed about 20 more copies of Mr. Bungle throughout my high school. To say the least, it affected us all on a life-changing level.
Granted, I was at an impressionable age but Mr. Bungle changed the way I look at everything in the music industry. Once tolerable, Bungle has proven that the Top 40 is completely worthless. Music isn't for fun anymore. I can't apprecite it unles it affects me both mentally and phsyically. Bungle has raised the bar on what I consider worthwhile. A catchy tune will never be enough again.
I have a bitter sweet love for Mr. Bungle. They forced my mind to expand long before it was ready. I really wish that I could sit in my car and bob my head to the latest Matchbox 20 song, or makeout with some Celine Dion blasting in my living room, but I can't.
Mr. Bungle, thank you for pounding the last nail into my pop culture coffin.
Be careful with this record. It will change the way your ears work.
on January 20, 2003
Usually when I tell people that this is one of my favorite albums ever by anyone, they usually raise their eyebrows and tell me I'm weird and that Mr. Bungle is stupid.
But eh...what do they know? I can think of few albums that combine such far-reaching stylistic influences with this kind of deranged songwriting genius. Mr. Bungle's self-titled album combines every style under the sun, siphoning it through a dizzying kaleidoscope of demonic circus music. It's wild and seemingly out of control --- the first time I heard it I thought it was entertainingly comical but a mess in any case. Songs jump all over the place and leave the listener in the middle of nowhere without a map.
Mike Patton, known on this album as Vlad Drac, gives one of the most brilliantly insane vocal performances ever on this record. His singing styles run from lightning fast vocal riffs ("Squeeze Me Macaroni" still amazes me), bleeding-throat screams, sonorous croons, or anything else you can think of. A lot of people consider him the most remarkable vocalist in all of rock and...well, sometimes it's hard to disagree. The rest of the band is blessed with killer chops demanded of music this aggressively nuts.
If the album were all about stunning performances and craziness, it would be impressively amusing but not astonishing. What makes the album so enduring is the sheer polish behind the writing and arrangements. The album is far too much to put together in one listen, but everything is so incredibly well put together that before long one cannot deny the sick intelligence here. It hops from metal to jazz to doo wop to punk to circus music to Disney-like themes to funk to video game soundbytes to...well, you get the idea. These transitions between genre occur with no audible seam and even after listening to this record countless times I am amazed by how well this band ties it all together. And frankly, I think the lyrics are pure genius too -- "Squeeze Me Macaroni" fills the act of eating into something drenched with sexual metaphors. "Stubb (A Dub)" is the classically morbid story of a dying dog. "Egg" is philosophy a la Bungle. Even "The Girls of Porn" hard not to love -- it's absolutely dirty but Patton's whiny vocal makes it oddly endearing somehow.
This is no novelty disc that loses its thrills quickly. There is long term appeal to be found in this music. Too bad they only release albums every four years or so.
on December 13, 1999
I have been curious about this recording ever since I first heard about it around 1990 (?) or so. I was reluctact to try it because I had gotten word that the lead singer was Mike Patton, and the only thing I knew about him at the time was that he sang for Faith No More, and I didn't exactly consider Faith No More an artistically creative outlet (my respect for them has greatly increased since joining the mental Bungle circus train). Finally, I was persuaded to hear it at my local music store after reading the one comment here on Amazon that says "This may very well be the most sinister music I have ever heard in my life." Now I'm not necessarily into SINISTER music, but I love music that challenges and charges my emotions, and the idea of funk and metal mixed with circus music in oddly demonic ways intrigued me. I can't begin to tell you how much the cover of the CD still has the power to make me cringe. As for the contents, all the reviews in the world can't begin to prepare you for how frantic and fun this album really is. It swirled all about my head and filled my brain in a zonked hippy haze that kept me charged for days afterward. One thing I also want to point out here (no offense meant to anyone who said that these songs can't be called "songs", because I see exactly what you mean! :) is that if you know about musical structure and study these compositions REALLY close, they do have a strong, carefully thought out structure...a wild structure, sure, but these guys knew exactly what they were doing in assembling these songs right from the beginning. No mere novice out there could take bits and pieces of different music, slap them together, and come out with exactly this combination of elements. The really amazing thing here, as I'm sure all the other fans of this album here agree, is that this music was all done WITH NO EDITING! At ALL! They did NOT splice this stuff together, they are so talented that they have the natural ABILITY to switch musical gears in a split second to play something completely different! That is REAL talent, and never before would I have guessed what a musical genius Patton is or how varied his vocal skills are. It's no wonder they are now considered in the same league as Zorn (who co-produced this first one here) and now are respected as genuine musical ARTISTS and not just performers. I can't overpraise this album enough, I'll just say, hey, listen to everyone here who has said that you should try this album if you're sick of all the Top 10 stuff out there. Oh, and by the way, the album features a song (the closest one to sounding "traditionally structured" but still wildly different) which is a load of fun and one of the most delightfully catchy little pieces I've ever heard, "The Girls of Porn". I swear, I play that song and "Squeeze Me Macaroni" to DEATH in my van's stereo and the music is so delightfully goofy and fun (and the lyrics are often hilarious) that they put me in a great mood even when I'm feeling down in the dumps. Check it OUT, man...!
on March 3, 2006
I remember the first time I ever heard Mr. Bungle. I was hanging out in front of the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma California (they have probably played there more than any other venue) where some strange kind of circus-funk music was being blasted out of a car parked out front. It was so outrageous I could not help but take a special interest in it. I asked my friends who were not feeling it quite as much as I was if they knew what it was and they told me it was probably GWAR and not to pay any attention to it. I could not keep my attention off of it though. I dug deep into my bank of musical knowledge and figured out of any band it was probably Mr. Bungle. I had never actually heard Mr. Bungle but I knew of them from being a casual listener of Faith No More for a few years and recognized Mike Patton's voice. I had never given Mr. Bungle the time of day though. I always dismissed them as Mike Patton's other band with a weird name that I would probably never like. (...)
It was not until a few months later that I actually got around to buying the album though. I was in Amoeba in Berkeley and could not think of what to buy. I thought long and hard about what would be funky enough for my tastes and remembered the fateful day out in front of the Phoenix and picked the album up for $8. Eight dollars well spent. I was quite confused the first time I heard it though. The only thing I was concerned about was hearing the one song that said 666 and talked about masturbating. This song turned out to be "The Girls of Porn" which I took a liking to for being outrageously funky. A few more listens revealed the true genius of the album's entirety though. I soon became addicted to the album and was could not stop talking about how prowd I was to finally be a fan of Mr. Bungle. It is the kind of music that takes such deep thought to truely understand even though the subject matter shouldn't appeal to any one older than 10. The album is so raw at times, so funky in others, and at other times a little too strange to be true. I nearly lose my mind every time I hear the funky breakdowns in "Dead Goon" and I can not think of a better song to mosh your ass off to than "Quote Unquote". "My Ass is On Fire" blows my mind more than anything else on the album. It's like Primus from hell if that makes any sense. Bottom line is these guys are legit and they rock my world. The production alone is reason enough to buy this album. They may be weird and unaccessable but goddamn these guys are legit.
One last thing. If you have reviewed this album or any of the other fine Mr. Bungle recordings and gave it one star for being too out there, you should not have ever listened to this band to begin with. This band does not exist to be heard on the radio or seen on TV. Ive said it before and I will say it again, this band is legit, they are for real, they are not trying to appeal to anybody. So if you're the kind of person that does not want to put anything into your music and just wants the artist to give you what you want, Mr. Bungle is not for you. (...)
on May 17, 2005
Some say there is a thin line between genius and insanity. Mr. Bungle walked all over it.
Mr. Bungle's self titled debut defines unpredictable. Some bands have frequent key, time and tempo changes. Mr. Bungle takes all these elements, adds to them frequent genre shapeshifting, a level of catchiness (but not commericialism) and sophomoric potty humor.
However, Mr. Bungle are far more intelligent than their lyrics may suggest. Your average musician could not execute the very difficult and complex music. Despite this, none of the band members step out for wanky solos even with their ability. Each instrument plays its part and does it well. The guitar, drums, bass and various brass instruments lay down a unique sound tapestry that is funky and at times downright scary. Styles like death metal, thrash, funk, jazz, are all traversed. It all sounds like a sick sonic circus. Check out Quote Unquote for an example.
The music has so much depth that you shouldn't expect to figure it out on first listen. Mr. Bungle is one of those albums where you discover new things everytime you listen to it.
Atop the sea of sound, are Mike Patton's manic vocals. He gives a great performance here. Going from his bratty The Real Thing singing voice, to his Angel Dust smooth deep voice, to his forceful Epic style rapping, to a gutteral roar, to high pitched screams, and everything in between. His vocals add a whole new dimension to this album. Check out his powerful screams in My Ass is on Fire, and Love is a Fist as well as his singing on Stub a Dub.
Quote Unquote starts off with silence, followed by the sound of breaking glass. This is one of the scariest songs I've ever heard. The ominous keyboards, a massive funky riff, and jazzy ambience make this a standout.
The next song Slowly Growing Deaf is a funky lounge rock song interspersed with Nintendo samples. I love the part where Patton goes "Ears are ringing" over and over again atop Trey Spruance's atonal yet perfectly rational guitar squiggles.
Squeeze Me Macaroni is a fast paced jazzy, rap laced song with funky slap bass and frentic vocals. The lyrics are suggestive food puns which are hilarious.
Carousel is insane little ditty with a bit of ska mixed in. Patton seems to sing "Will Warner Brothers put this record on the shelf" in the pre chorus. It totally breaks down toward the end with Patton and co. pretending to throw up followed by Mr. Bungle's version of carnival music.
Egg is a funky jazzy piece with a great vocal line of "blah blah blah...". The band muses about chickens, eggs and other random things. It culminates with Patton saying "There's no place like home" in different voices including a hilarious old granny voice.
Stub a Dub is an entertaining, and often quite pretty eulogy to a dead dog. Starts off with serene keyboards and piano topped by Patton's great crooning vocals. As this is Mr. Bungle, the songs gets insane with crazy keyboards and bass. There's a riff in here that reminds me of the first song. The best part of the song is the part where Patton goes "throw a stick bring it back...". Beautiful guitar there.
My Ass is on Fire is one of my favorites with boundless energy. The screaming leading up to the chorus is impressive and powerful. Drums and bass perfectly compliment the music at the chorus. I also like the guitar riff here. The song ends with Patton screaming "Redundant" while the band breaks down.
Girls of Porn is a catchy and dirty song with plenty of sexual references. The funky riff here is cool. I like the chorus too.
Love is a Fist is another great song. The soft jazzy parts here transform into the thundering chorus with a thrashy riff. Check out the scream 3 minutes into the song. The in between song chatter here is funny too.
The final song Dead Goon is an apt closer. It starts slow before a great Patton vocal line. Bassist Trevor Dunn is particularly impressive here. He has a great jazzy bassline at 2:00. Outstanding job here.
Mr. Bungle is one of those albums that you rediscover with every listen. Though it is not for everyone, anyone with an open mind can appreciate this.
on June 22, 2003
What can be said about Mr. Bungle that hasn't been said already? Well, maybe nothing, but I'm going to say a few things anyway. This band combines talent, creativity, and a complete disregard for commercialism in a way few, if any, bands could even dream of. Genre conventions, traditional song structures, and common notions of good taste are all thrown right out the window here. And while the band's last two albums are good as well, I think this self-titled debut stands as the ultimate testament to Mr. Bungle's offbeat genius.
If you're in the mood for some inspired weirdness, nothing, and I mean NOTHING that I've heard can beat this album. The first time I listened to it I was hooked, and my appreciation has only grown since. Some albums don't quite live up to their legendary status, but "Mr. Bungle" is not one of them. It's become a cult classic for a reason.
Fronted by now-legendary Faith No More main man Mike Patton, Mr. Bungle channeled an almost impossibly wide range of influences into one incredibly original sound. This album has sort of a bizarre mad-scientists-on-acid vibe about it, as the band races through genres with reckless abandon and dizzying virtuosity, topped off by Patton's singularly manic vocals. More than anything else, "Mr. Bungle" is proof of how much fun unpredictability can be. Unlike the vast majority of what you'll hear on the radio, it's impossible to listen to the first thirty seconds of these songs and then set your brain to "repeat." You have to actually pay attention from beginning to end (novel thought, huh?).
What's even more impressive, as a few others have noted, is that for all their seeming arbitrariness, the songs on this album "flow" very well. After listening a few times, I really began to appreciate the demented genius that was at work here. The myriad shifts between tempos and genres, so jarring upon first listen, eventually began to sound perfectly natural and logical, so much so that I began wondering why there aren't more bands that play such songs. To steal a quote from Shakespeare's "Hamlet:" "Though it be madness, yet there be method in it."
The circus music-derived opener "Quote Unquote," much like the cult classic film "Attack Of The Killer Klowns," scores points by playing off the creepiness of circuses and clowns. "Slowly Growing Deaf" starts out slowly before picking up speed and careening back and forth between funk and thrash, and some other stuff that I can't even describe in words. "Squeeze Me Macaroni" and "Carousel" each race through about five genres in their first minute or so, providing probably the album's best showcases for both Patton's vocal acrobatics and his bandmates' musical abilities. "My A** Is On Fire" would be enjoyable even if only for the title lyric, but the song itself, with its twisted combination of jazz and metal, is wildly infectious to boot. "Girls Of Porn," which may well be my new all-time favorite song, has a premise that's astoundingly brilliant in its sheer absurdity: Patton sings a hilarious tale of masturbation, backed up by the band's own version of porno music. If you think that idea sounds funny, wait until you hear the song; it's even funnier than you can imagine.
Based on everything I've written above, and what everyone below me has written, one might conclude that this band and album are not for normal, well-adjusted people. However, I disagree. Mr. Bungle's genre-rejecting style may seem intimidating at first, but they reconcile their sound's apparent contradictions so well that I think anyone with an open mind and a fully functioning sense of humor could enjoy it. Hell, even my fiance enjoyed a few of the songs on this album when I played them for her (or at least she said she did).
I'd try to write a concluding paragraph right now, but I'm kinda sick of typing and if you're not convinced by now after what I and a few dozen others have written on this site, you're not going to be. But if what you've read sounds good, please don't hesitate to pick up this album. It's an experience everyone should have at least once.
on March 11, 2003
And that's not much of an exaggeration. Mr. Bungle's music is a manic, relentless, ultra-iconoclastic and hyper-amalgamated assault on the senses - musically and lyrically.
The graphic, absurd and explicit lyrical content combined with the hyperactive genre-switching hits the listener like a few machine guns firing off many rounds all at once - confusing and eventually turning the mind into some kind of sewage disposal - not literally, but pretty close. Jazz, metal (thrash and death), pseudo-balladry, ska, punk, funk, disco, video game music and several other styles can be found -- all within a single track. This is pretty much how the entire album plays out.
Ironic? Mapped-out? Probably a combination of the two, but, it seems to me that the concept was for these guys to break as many rules as possible (e.g. combine the most horrendous lyrical content with the most horrendous musical elements.) Mr. Bungle takes typical musical clichés and throws them ALL out the window and runs them over with a truck. Conversely (and simultaneously), they take these clichés then hurl them right smack in the listeners face - only MUCH bigger, rawer and uglier. All of this is what makes me consider this some kind of genius.
If you want to be challenged, or want something a little different, take the plunge. Be careful though, after listening to this, you may find most of the music you're normally accustomed to passé...
on July 13, 1999
Yes, it is the kind of album that really grows on you. It's the first and best of its kind they say, but what is its kind? Let's just call it avant garde.
John Zorn, producer, actually was doing stuff along these lines at the same time, take songs like Bonecrusher from "Music for Children." But the difference with this Mr. Bungle album is that most of these "songs" have been accruing for 6 or 8 years as they produce demos, etc. The difference in musical composition and tightness is apparent on Disco Volante when newer material was introduced (especially Trevor's contributions), except for Platypus which was an old one.
So anyway, on this selftitled debut, Trey's guitar parts are often incredible, Trevor's Bass kills me, the horns couldn't be better, keyboards are 80s but add flavor, Patton's voice is the only thing to top Nick Blinko in demented virtuosity, but the amassment of samples is what astounds me most. Nobody outside of hip hop did anything like this back in 1991. Now granted Girls of Porn and Carousel were collecting samples for 6 years, but still we can't forget the texture, humor, and excess variety that these groundbreaking gems provide.
"Music can be like THIS!" The only other times I've gotten that is with Aphex Twin and Self. Anyway, great album - buy it - love it - but it certainly is not for everyone. Certainly.
on September 3, 2003
Mr Bungle is an album that _really_ is like no other. Heres a brief attempt at translating the music into words. Imagine entering a dark alley on your journey home one night only to be accosted by two homicidal clowns with accordions singing Billy Idol's entire back catalogue, and rhythmically sharpening their knives. You turn to flee, only to be transported to the kind of carnival that only exists in your nightmares, in which a group of schizophrenic and dangerous eggs tie you to a carousel and demand you name all your childhood pets in order of their demise, giving time place and cause of death. Upon your inevitable failure, all your pornographic fantasies simultaneously come true, causing all the problems that might imply. And so on.
More a kind of twisted musical expeiment than an album, Mr Bungle seem to wish to cause their listeners as much trouble as possible. They certainly dont compromise here, as they run through every style and genre imgainble, and tread themes other band wouldnt touch in their dreams.
This album cries out to be bought if you like a musical challenge. Its dangerous in there though, so bring patience, impartiality, cunning and plenty of balloons.
I hope you enjoy this incredible record.
on March 23, 2003
I was first turned on to this album in 1992 by a friend who listened to punk rock. This fit nowhere in his record collection, alongside his Dead Kennedys and Exploited albums, yet it made complete sense once I listened to it: it's more punk than any of those old hardcore bands because Mr. Bungle truely doesn't try to be what anyone expected them to be. Organs, metal guitars, a brass section, and some damn funny lyrics made this album not only stand out as completely unique, but considering it was released by Warner Bros., it was by far the least commercial album released by anyone for many years before and after, meaning that they truely released art, not something targeted at a specific demographic, not another quick-signing to cash in on the grunge movement (this WAS released in 1991), and not even an attempt to sell records due to Faith No More's populartiy at the time, since Mike Patton's name was nowhere on the record, yet his voice is unmistakeable. No hit singles, no radio airplay, this one sold only by listening to it at a friend's house then going out and buying it yourself; luckily, there were plenty of friends who turned on other friends, as Mr. Bungle released two other albums so far, which are both equally as good as their debut here.