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MR. BUNGLE - Disco Volante cover
4.14 | 61 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1995

Filed under Metal Related


1. Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead (02:45)
2. Chemical Marriage (0:09)
3. Sleep (Part II): Carry Stress in the Jaw (08:59)
4. Desert Search for Techno Allah (05:24)
5. Violenza domestica (05:14)
6. After School Special (02:47)
7. Sleep (Part III): Phlegmatics (03:16)
8. Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz (06:06)
9. The Bends (10:28)
10. Backstrokin' (02:27)
11. Platypus (05:07)
12. Merry Go Bye Bye (12:58)

Total Time 68:45


- Trevor Dunn / bass
- Mike Patton / organ, ocarina, vocals, microcassette
- William Winant / percussion, bongos, cymbals, glockenspiel, Jew's-Harp, tabla, xylophone, kanjira, sistrum
- Graham Connah / piano
- Theobald Brooks Lengyel / reeds (multiple)
- Clinton McKinnon / clarinet, drums, keyboards
- I Quit / percussion, wood block
- Lisandro Adrover / bandoneon
- Trey Spruance / pipa, keyboards/organs, guitar, electronics

About this release

Released 10th October 1995 on Warner Brothers Records / Slash / Liberation Records.

Thanks to progshine, Bosh66 for the updates


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siLLy puPPy
MR BUNGLE started out simply as the whacky project of a bunch of crazy high school students in Eureka, CA but against all odds managed to find its way into scoring a three album deal with Warner Bros mostly due to lead singer Mike Patton’s involvement with Faith No More which scored big with a single that hit the top ten with “Epic.” As the 80s ceded into the 90s, suddenly everything alternative was en vogue and MR BUNGLE emerged from nowhere to shocking the world with its avant-garde weirdness laced with ample doses of goofy absurdity. While once only associated with artists such as Frank Zappa, however he and his projects which were in tune with current trends and often reinvented his style to co-exist, MR BUNGLE unapologetically ignored contemporary the popular musical scene and in the contrary crafted some of the most unorthodox musical hybrids ever recorded.

The self-titled debut emerged in 1991 and immediately shocked the Faith No More fanbase since the album showcased Patton’s true restless and creative nature that went well outside the commercial paradigms of alternative rock. The debut was eclectic but still used the BUNGLERS’ eclectic mix of funk metal as the canvas to create upon. Inspired by funk and rock bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Camper Van Beethoven, Oingo Boingo and Bad Manners, the sextet decorated the funk metal paradigm the with added elements of jazzy brass sounds and ska rhythms. Astonishingly the band was allowed complete freedom to explore any avenue of desire, a trait so very rare in the music business of the era. And as extremely bizarre and unorthodox as the debut was, it was simply a warm up session for what came next.

As Faith No More continued its success throughout the early 90s, MR BUNGLE was cleverly crafting its sophomore extravaganza. DISCO VOLANTE (Italian for ‘flying saucer’), a title that refers to the James Bond yacht in the film “Thunderball” emerged three years later in 1995 and took things into the stratosphere of experimental rock laced with the band’s already established genre hopping eccentricities but this time the band exploited every possible sound, style and genre they could muster up and in the process, gone was the stabilizing factor of the funk ska rock infused with jazz and metal. DISCO VOLANTE was an avant-garde free-for-all and to this day remains one of the craziest albums ever to appear on a major record label. How these guys got away with all this freedom is the biggest mystery of all. Perhaps Warner Bros saw the potential of these albums catching on over time but for most who had warmed up to the debut album were left in a state of stupor as DISCO VOLANTE seemed like an entirely new mutant strain that infected this band from some far away planet.

While the genre hopping nerd factor had already been turned up to steaming on the debut album, DISCO VOLANTE was like a volcanic eruption of everything but the kitchen sink. The band basically brought to the table all the different sounds that the six members of Mike Patton (vocals, tape, ocarina, organ), Trey Spruance (guitar, organ, keyboards, electronics, biwa), Theobald Brooks Lengyel (woodwinds), Clinton McKinnon "Bär" (tenor sax, clarinet, drums, keyboards), Trevor Dunn (bass, viol) and Danny Heifetz (drums and percussion) were influenced by. Spruance for example was into lounge exotica, electro-acoustic, noise and Middle Eastern techno while Patton was fascinated by Italian folk, the space pop of Joe Meek, theatrical music and tangos. Dunn on the other hand was fascinated in deconstructing music and sewing it back together like a sonic Frankenstein. Due to the change of musical direction the horn section had been significantly reduced and therefore band member Theobald Brooks felt like his services were no longer needed and left the band shortly thereafter. Clinton McKinnon on the other hand simply adapted to the new expanding dramatic shifts.

DISCO VOLANTE is like being bombarded with a tornado of sounds, styles and schizophrenic freedom. The tracks are literally all over the music map ranging from sludge and death metal, psycho-jazz-metal, surf rock, Middle Eastern techno, mystique concrète, tango, exotica lounge, freeform jazz, sound collages and psychedelia. The album exemplifies the ultimate expression of DIY musical freedom except that it’s all dressed up with high budget production, engineering and mixing which makes DISCO VOLANTE perhaps the most professionally recorded example of renegade rock since Frank Zappa’s unique stamp on the 70s. The album is rich with different instruments as well. Guest musicians provide the extra touches of piano, bandoneon, cymbals, bongos, jew’s harp, tabla, kanjira, sistrums, xylophone and glockenspiel. In addition to the influences aforementioned, there are many styles of ethnic music adding extra colorful textures ranging from African rhythms, Slavic folk as well as the more obvious Middle Eastern touches.

Everything about the album exudes a sort of retro feel from the 60s but in a demented alternative universe. Of all the sounds on board, only the death metal on “Merry Go Bye Bye” and the sludge metal of the introductory “Everyone I Went To High School With Is Dead” borrow from the contemporary musical world. Tracks like “Chemical Marriage” seem like the result of am acid trip gone wrong where lounge exotica music and psychedelic rock of the 60s fuse whereas “Carry Stress in the Jaw” and “Platypus” engage in knotty over-the-top feats that tackle the most extreme examples of jazz-metal distorted into overly complex constructs simply for the sake of doing so. The lyrics retain the goofiness of the debut however the contrast of the lyrics and music adds to the more surreal nature of DISCO VOLANTE. “Violenza Domestica” is like a tango soundtrack to the alternative version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” whereas the cleverly crafted electronic of “Desert Search For Techno Allah” provided the blueprint for the entire world of Spruance’s future project Secret Chiefs 3.

Out of this amazing roller coaster ride through the demented sonic universe of MR BUNGLE, some of the tracks have proven a hard pill to swallow for even the most stalwart followers. “The Bends” is a sound collage that entertains 10 distinct sections, all completely unique and all exhibiting the most impenetrable displays of the avant-garde. Based on the the theme of the decompression sickness that describes the condition of ascending to the surface too quickly after diving underwater, the short snippets that last from one to two minutes exude the scariest sounds on the album yet retain a humorous twist with titles like “ Duet For Guitar and Oxygen Tank” and “Love on the Event Horizon.” By far the weirdest of the weird but an effective non-melodic respite from the otherwise melodic constructs that mostly keep the album from spiraling into a world where no mere mortal can comprehend what is going on. “Platypus” is a favorite as it the most jaggedly angular example of jazz and metal dancing side by side that i’ve ever heard and displays the most technical workouts of the album. It comes off a modern form of the Canterbury Scene with its whimsy and technical wizardry all fused together or even some sort of jazz-metal-in-opposition.

The biggest mind f.u.c.k. is saved for the ending. “Merry Go Bye Bye / Nothing” starts out as a catchy even kitsch example of exotica lounge music about existential universal quandaries but abruptly morphs into death metal with noisy electronics which revives the death metal antics that the band hadn’t performed since its first demo along with the chaotic electronica that Spruance fortified his Faxed Head project with. The chaotic mix goes off like a nuclear bomb designed to disturb and perplex any adventurous soul still going for the DISCO VOLANTE journey. Once the album ends it doesn’t really end at all. After a period of silence, it finishes things off with practice session snippets that erupt into an explosive pyroclastic flow of unhinged energy and potty mouthed profanities that link it to the debut. After a cacophonous roar of dissonant horns, the album leaves you in shock and you’ll never be the same.

Everything about DISCO VOLANTE is designed to contrast expectations. It feels both retro and futuristic and seemingly unrelated genres play side by side like lions and lambs at a warehouse rave. The album exists in a paradigm stubbornly outside of the commercial music world of 1995 and the album exudes an alienating effect that is somewhat like a musical VPN that disguises its era, location of creation and true genius of the members who crafted it. This album is basically just plain nuts yet it enthralls the soul with captivating technical workouts and innocent childlike melodies that evoke the most primeval attractions to music while contorting it to create mind-numbing expansions of consciousness. Despite al the odds, this album exists and the six guys involved took full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to create some of the least commercial music on the planet that strangely found an audience. Even more brilliant than the debut, DISCO VOLANTE showed quite clearly that MR BUNGLE was no one trick pony and had a seemingly bottomless wellspring of ideas and influences to mine. Disturbing and beautiful, this album is exquisitely unique and mind blowing. Easily one of my favorite albums of all time.
Mr Bungle's debut album was weird, but was mostly rooted in a particular metal subgenre - as a listener you can quickly work out that the band are presenting an avant-garde interpretation of alternative metal, and appreciate it on that basis. Disco Volante, however, is a much trickier proposition; letting their anchor in alt-metal slip, the band deliriously slide between musical genres ranging from death metal to easy listening to free jazz to prog rock polka. This, however, is not random noodling; the compositions here are intricate and reflect the diversifying interests of the band, including the fascination with traditional Arabic music which would go on to become a key ingredient of Secret Chiefs 3.

Whereas the first album presented outrageous vocal gymnastics against a musical backing which usually much more grounded, this time around the musicians are as diverse and versatile in their performances as Mike Patton is with his vocals - and Patton's vocals are even more out of control than they were on the previous album, making full use of the human voice's potential as an instrument. It's easily the most experimental album by Mr Bungle and I'd say it's a key part of their work. That said, unless your tastes in music are incredibly broad you are likely to find some parts of it more compelling than others, so many listeners might find the album uneven.
Mike Patton's best work.

It is really hard to say anything bad about this album. The only thing I could say would be some songs are not up to par with the other. Some would call this "filler," but there really is none on this album. So I hear you say doesn't that mean there's filler? I think there's enough originality in all of these songs to justify none of them being called filler, all of it adds to the album. I just think some songs are better than others, simple as that...but NONE are bad. Some are just masterpieces.

I'd like to start with the vocals because I think that's the major hilight of the album. Mike Patton is certainly an awesome vocalist. I couldn't imagine an album without him and only he could make an album like this be so great. The shear talent and raw skill is something to admire, but then he goes above and beyond and shows incomparable creativity.

Past the vocals are, well, the instruments. This has a very wide selection and all of them are great. I don't think any one of these really overshadow the rest or fall in comparison, they are just all really solid. All of them seem to share the spot-light here, all though some instruments appear more than others.

Also besides the instruments are the miscellaneous noise. This I can't really call "masterfully done" considering it's just, well, misc. noise, but I do think it enhances the weird zany mood this album gives off.

Hilights of the album include: "Sleep (Part II): Carry Stress in the Jaw" and "Merry Go Bye Bye" while the not-as-good ones consist of: "Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead" and "Violenza Domestica."

Definitely recommended from me!
Little more can be said about the diverse talent of Mike Patton. Along with his seemingly limitless array of genres he can play, Patton is a multi-instrumentalist and has thousands of vocal techniques, and has been able to perform sounds live thought unthinkable. Along with Patton is a few members that unfortunately have not had the same amount of limelight, Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance, who have since Mr. Bungle have gone on with Patton to create this diverse avant-garde attitude music with so many influences. Nothing really describes what this crew can do like this album, Disco Volante.

If you look at Disco Volante within the context of their other two albums, it really sounds nothing like them. However, with an album like Disco Volante, there's really no album that sounds remotely like it. It doesn't really have an explicit sound, because the tracks on it are so diverse. There's sludge, techno, folk, funk, jazz, rock, death metal, and probably a thousand other things to find on it, often changing within songs. Hence, you can only really describe the whole of the album as avant-garde, and when you go into all the little pieces, you maybe and only maybe can describe the sound of it.

One good example of this is the song "Carry Stress in the Jaw". It opens up with free jazz saxophone going all over the place (featuring John Zorn, no less!), the rest of the band busts into quick paced free jazz with Patton singing dissonant atmospheric vocal drones over it, when out of nowhere, heavy distorted death metal guitar busts in, turning a weird jazz piece into a complete thrashfest. It goes back to more of the jazz and the pattern repeats itself more, until it all busts out, and we are treated to an unusual midtempo theater organ piece with an old man speaking humorous dialogues all over it. The song has plenty more elements than can be described succinctly in this review, so that's where I will end describing it, and that's only one song! There's still 11 more to go!

This is why Bungle gets so much praise, because of their incredibly diverse music that at the turn of a dime can switch drastically into something wildly different. At the same time, some of the songs are (almost, not really) conventional. One of the best examples is "Desert Search for Techno Allah", which is a fun, danceable track featuring plenty of techno synths and Middle Eastern percussion, which sounds exactly like its title implies. "After School Special" is another song that has an almost conventional structure with a couple verses and chorus, though it is quiet and moody and features some prominent xylophone, so it's hardly conventional. "Merry Go Bye Bye/Nothing" is a perfect example of their sound, as it goes into a very bright and upbeat surf rock song that is easy to sing along to. Then, after a couple verses Patton switches from an easy going singing voice into a drastic black metal type shriek, and all the other instruments blast into thrashing avant-garde extreme metal madness, completely out of the blue.

As far as other songs, all of them are highlights, weird as they are. "Everyone I went to High School With Is Dead" is a great, sludgy opener, "Violenza Domestica" is a French film soundtrack sounding tune, and Platypus is a punky fast paced metal song with some great jazz interplay (with xylophone!), and very complex. "The Bends" is a real treat, as it's a multi part, jazz-infused soundtrack to the horrors of the ocean depths. For the most part, though, keep in mind that there's not an overabundance of metal. In keeping with the idea that you can't really describe the album in a single genre, you can't call it a metal album. Some songs have those elements, but it hardly has much example. So go into listening thinking of it as something other than a metal album.

In conclusion, if someone's looking to get into the unusual and experimental side of Mike Patton (basically anything but Faith No More), then Disco Volante may be the perfect example of it. The only limit to the amount of enjoyment on the album is the listener's patience, as there is certainly a lot to digest. That being said, once the avant-garde weirdness is embraced and you've listened to the album thoroughly, it should certainly become clear why this absolutely bizarre album is lauded as it is.
Everywhere and everything at once, Disco Volante is Mike Patton's eclectic masterpiece. There is scarcely a genre of music that does not make an appearance on this album. Although Patton and Mr. Bungle's silliness is very apparent, there is also an indisputable seriousness to the music that wasn't around on Mr. Bungle's self-titled album.

All of the musicianship is flawless on Disco Volante, and Patton's vocals are unmatchable, even when he is just making sound effects.

An absolute trip, well worth embarking on. Almost a modern-day, metal Trout Mask Replica.

Faith No More fans beware; nevertheless, this is without a doubt a masterpiece.
Phonebook Eater

"Disco Volante" is the best early Avant-Garde Metal album.

Pure genius. An unforgettable album, with such a huge sense of originality and bizarre that it will really impress you, in the inside. Mike Patton's best album, only second to Faith No More's "The Real Thing", the alt metal masterpiece. But this is one of my very favorite Avant Prog albums.

The style is something that really makes you think that this band is completely nuts: the songwriting s complex, full of weird moments and sounds, played with various instruments. Many influences are present here: from heavy, death (in the last epic track), thrash metal, to jazz, to techno, to avant garde,to progressive, to classical influences. A kaleidoscope of diverse soundscapes, all very innovative and alien sounding, even though it is conceptually a very down-to-earth work.

"Everyone I went..." is probably my least favorite, but it is a very interesting intro for a RIO album. Very weird indeed."Chemical Marriage" is mellow, but a masterpiece. Three minutes where the keyboards, very oriental sounding, are mixed with a tense and at the same time calm atmosphere that really catches your attention. It's an instrumental piece that should not be underrated."Carry Stress In The Jaw" is a fabulous nine minute song, where for the first time we can hear Mike Patton (although he was present in the first track) sing, especially in the calmer and more mysterious part, that reprises every once in a while, where we can also admire the singer's emotional voice. The rest is trumpet and sax driven, creating a sort of contrast to the just mentioned mood."Desert Search For Techno Allah" is another masterpiece. An intelligent and unorthodox mix between techno and arabic music, like the title suggests. A genius piece, where there is always room for other instruments and atmospheres, that contrast the main theme."Violenza Domestica" is another masterpiece. It's not music, it's more like kitchen and domestic sounds, mixed with some scary threats whispered by Mike Patton, in Italian. As usual, there is some space for some other jazzy elements, more John Zorn like. Another genius track. "After School Special" is a fun interlude, very pleasant and melodic. "Ma Meeshka" is another oriental driven song, but with more synths and keyboards. Very interesting. "The Bends" is a ten minute long song. Again, a great song. Very minimalistic, the tones have all a lower volume, and everything is more tense and it seems like the song could explode in any moment. The innovating thing about this is that it is composed only of brief crazy pieces, that are not connected to each other except by a few seconds of silence. "Backstrucking" is an interesting interlude, good for connecting a long track with medium length one. "Platypus" is very heavy metal driven at times, while in others its pure avant garde rock. Didn't enjoy it as much as the other songs, but you should still check it out. The final track is the thirteen minute epic masterpiece of the album. It starts off with a victorious and cheerful melody, also sung by Patton. But then it explodes unexpectedly in a fierce thrashy tune, the most violent moment of the album. Also Patton features here some growls, the only song that has this kind of singing. After seven minutes the music stops, and you can listen to the hidden track, where apparently the drummer and somebody else, probably Patton, are fooling around with their instruments, accompanied by some laughs.

A genius album, like I said a few times, definitely listen to it f you're an avant prog or avant metal fan.
The Sub-Basement of the Funhouse

When my group of metalhead friends discovered Mr. Bungle's first album in the early 90's, we were flabbergasted. The CD completely redefined what could be done by a metal band (the massive number of sub-genres in metal had yet to evolve at that point). When _Disco Volante_ came out in 1995, I enthusiastically snatched it up, expecting more circus music and pottymouth. Well, Mr. Patton and the boys had no such intentions. Instead, I got what at the time was the most challenging record I'd ever heard, and even after 13 more years of very wide musical exploration, it may still hold that title.

Even on the first listen, I think any serious musician is going to realize that they are listening to something truly remarkable. The most accessible song on the album, Desert Search for the Techno Allah, is incredibly catchy, to the point that I find myself humming Qiyamat, Qiyamat a Tawil not that infrequently. Along with his own self-created jibberish language (Ma Meeska Mow Skwoz), Patton sings, warbles, recites, regurgitates, and moans in Arabic, Italian, possessed baby, and who knows how many other languages and characters. A master of considerable range already, this is his signature album, the one that makes the imitators just hang it up. As a fun highlight on the disc, bassist Trevor Dunn adds a little bit of Grampa Simpson on Secret Song just for good measure.

The instrumentation, though not as virtuosic individually, is a piece of genius in terms of composition, especially considering this was done in the pre-Pro Tools world. Along with their trademark genre- flopping, the band incorporate massive amounts of dissonance, jazz sensibility, experimentation, samples, and at times just noise. Carry Stress in the Jaw is the highlight in this regard, spanning massive musical territory and still holding together remarkably well.

The album starts quite strong, but by the time we get to the much-maligned The Bends, things become a more free form, chaotic, and lose their interest a little for me. The final track, Merry Go Bye Bye, has some brilliant sections, but is overlong by several minutes, even before considering the random sound effects at the end. Of course, the listener (maybe just this listener) may be suffering from mental fatigue, because making sense of this music can be exhausting.

There is no doubt that this is a monumental album. Like most masterpieces, it has highs and lows, but this stands as one of the most ambitious, experimental, skilled, and insane albums of the 1990's. This is album #1 in the Avant-Metal sub-category, and still essential for followers of all related genres.

Members reviews

Mr. Bungle's music is, objectively, good and original, but I just become bored while listening to it. I feel like (and this could get me shot) the band just goes through the motions of creating avant-garde music without any really conviction and, as a result, I don't get any impact emotional or otherwise out of it. It seems like the quirky style of the music is largely arbitrary, as if they spun a "what type of music should we play" wheel every 30 seconds. There's a lack of coherence and direction because of this. There are good moments, but they often seem contrived and fail to make the album as a whole worth listening to. I have yet to understand why Mr. Bungle is considered to be one of the top avant-garde bands around.

Rating: 4/10
The album that runs over to the boundaries of music and what is deemed tasteful, and punches it square in the face. This album covers a plethora of musical genres, a lot of the time, in one song! Songs like After School Special, a song about child abuse (“Stop tickling me!”) and Violenza Domestica, a song about domestic violence (really?!) with Patton singing and whispering abuse in Italian, both contain dark humour and have very eerie atmospheres. Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz contains nonsensical lyrics, scatting and great trumpet and saxophone work. Desert Search For Techno Allah contains a mix of techno music, brilliant jazz drumming and Arabic music. Very avant-garde, indeed. Platypus is probably the most technical song on the album with some amazing work from the rhythm section, very jazzy and I love the jazz section in the song. I just wanted to outline my favourite songs on the album. Overall, the bands most experimental release and one of the most original albums EVER released. The way the band can go from heavy guitar riffing to a calm jazz number is mind-boggling. This album should be heard by everyone who enjoys avant-garde music and despite the weirdness of it all, it isn’t completely inaccessible. Highly recommended!

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