Mr. Bungle - California (Cover Artwork)

Mr. Bungle

California (1999)


Mike Patton Is God.

At least, that's what some will have you believe. Apart from existing in one of the most influential bands of the past twenty years, Faith No More, he's also formed several side projects (Fantomas, Tomahawk, Lovage) as well as collaborated with a diverse range of artists and performers (the Dillinger Escape Plan, X-Ecutioners, Handsome Boy Modelling School). The man's a machine, a unique entity.

Perhaps his most obscure work, the project which has managed to fully embrace his original "style," is Mr. Bungle, a band that took its name from two short films which appeared in early episodes of the "The Pee Wee Herman Show," in which an ill-mannered, un-hygienic puppet clown demonstrated how good grade-school kids should not behave.

This 1999 release, California, is, in my opinion, their best work.

Mixing pop, rock, funk, lounge, world music and strange theatrics, California is widely considered the band's most consumer-friendly release. This may be so, but it would in no way ever be considered a commercial release. Six-minute songs consisting of abstract noise juxtaposed against Patton's poppy harmonies is certainly nothing you'll be likely to hear on a commercial radio station any time soon.

And that's precisely what makes this album so great. It is a unique masterpiece, and catchy as hell too. From the sweeping, streamlined sounds of "Sweet Charity" to the Middle Eastern choruses of "None of Them Knew They Were Robots" that induce images of a Broadway production of "Arabia: The Musical," to the speed metal of album concluder "Goodbye Sober Day," the album feels like a journey through the mind of a colourful genius.

If you're a fan of any of Patton's previous work, this album comes highly recommended. Others who may be interested include fans of wonderfully strange music and the criminally insane.

Mike Patton may not be God, but he is a powerful force in the world of music, a very diverse vocalist, and California exemplifies just what he is capable of when in top form.