Mr. Bungle grows up

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The first track of Mr. Bungle’s latest long-player might make casual listeners of the group — i.e., anyone who owns only the group’s self-titled debut — think they’ve toned down.

Not fucking likely.

By the end of the 50-minute, 10-track California, Mr. Bungle covers much of the same ground cleared by the group’s aforementioned debut. In other words, everything.

(Disclosure: I missed out on the group’s second disc, Disco Volante, so there are holes in my Mr. Bungle knowledge.)

I did, however, whip out Mr. Bungle while I wandering through my cassette collection — how did anyone ever use those things? — and yes, California is far more polished, far more crafted and far less chaotic than the group’s eponymous outing.

If anything, there’s something rather sophisticated about the album. The mood certainly seems a lot less — how to put this tactfully? — “high school.” How many other rock albums out there include Indonesian kecak chanting?

Like every Mr. Bungle recording — at least the ones I own — California takes numerous listens to grasp the overall arc of the music, emphasis on the word numerous.

Satisfying? Yes. Yes, indeed.