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When you feel conflicted as a fan and lover of music - 90%

Kronisk, April 17th, 2019

During one review for a long-forgotten magazine, the writer quoted from The Girls Of Porn, specifically the opening line, "the urge is too much to take, all I can think about is playing with myself". Said writer then went on to say that for the seventy or so minutes of this album, Mr. Bungle proceed to do exactly that. The review was scathing, and whilst I cannot fathom how people would be averse to the actual music on this album, the truth is, there is about fifty-some minutes of music mixed in with a lot of guff on a seventy-minute disc.

The problem is not so much that sampled material is on this album. A few samples to set the mood can work wonders. The snoring and smashing glass at the beginning of opener Travolta (or Quote Unquote depending on whether you got a post-lawsuit-threat copy or not), maybe not the best example, but certainly not a bad one. Unfortunately, some of these arrangements of samples go on for minutes at a time, and add nothing to the album. Men urging each other to stay in the shadows as a train rolls by in the background, or the like. With these parts of the album, it is easy to see how a reviewer that is expecting another Faith No More might jump back and ask what this shit is. And that is a shame, because Patton's vocal delivery on this album, especially in songs like Slowly Growing Deaf, is a good deal more mature and varied on this outing. And whereas Faith No More had to take a couple of albums to grow to be first-grade musicians, the talent on display here is so staggeringly obvious it really makes one cry about how narrow and dull the mainstream really is. On a just world, every household would have at least one copy of all of Bungle's albums, whilst the same people would ask "who the fukk is John Farnham" or the like. But I am getting carried away here.

Production from John Zorn, guest appearances on turntable and Odin only knows what else. Although the compact disc was and is a terribly limited format for fidelity, somehow Bungle and Zorn managed to get the best it could offer (which is not saying much). Every instrument, even the bass, is clear enough that the showings off are easy to be awed by. It also helps, of course, that Bungle had been taking these songs out on the live circuit and putting them (among others) on demo tapes for years. There are plenty of bands that write their songs when they should be using that studio time to you know, record them, and the difference is always easy to see. Every rapid-fire cowbell or guitar twiddle or weird vocal line comes out with the confidence of musicians for whom this was the fifty thousandth time they played it, as opposed to the first through fifth. And occasionally, those frigging samples help the mood beautifully, the best example being the closing bars of Squeeze Me Macaroni. Oh to be a fly on the wall when David Lynch was hearing this album for the first time.

The latter half of the album is slightly weaker than the first, but show me an album that does not have that problem, and I will show you a diamond the size of Peter Steel's head. And this is all relative, because even lesser cuts like Love Is A Fist have a punch, and would not outstay their welcome if not for those bloody samples (insert image of the South Park horse being beaten). Closer Dead Goon exemplifies the rule of opening and closing with your best material. For my money, the standout tracks are Stubb (A Dub) and My Ass Is On Fire. But this is academic. Everybody responds differently to the same material, and for all I know I might meet someone tomorrow who waits with bated breath to hear Love Is A Fist.

Those samples aside, is there really a negative to this album? Well, no. And even some of the samples are really aces. The openers for Girls Of Porn or Dead Goon, just for example. The problem is not the samples, it is that they used a few too many. And that is easy to overlook with the strength of the rest of the album.

Long story short, if you want to know why Patton is a genius whereas a certain poseur who wished ill on him is a complete cuck, go into Mr. Bungle without expecting Faith No More 2.0, and you will be pleasantly surprised. It helps, of course, that every musician on this record is clearly at least as talented as Patton, and it is impossible to overstate the value of having all your best material down pat well ahead of time. At times, you can really tell that the men on this record had a lot of fun making it, and wanted to give their audience a sort of "this is why you feared the dark" moment. This is music for people who want to expand their minds and horizons, and is definitely best approached that way. Just do not go in expecting to hear the kind of material that got Patton's most mainstream band desperate to shed their pin-up boy image. You will end up hiding under your bed if you do.