While average listeners (and even lifelong fans) often find Mr. Bungle's densely layered mania obnoxious, there's no disputing the fascinating originality of their sound. Midway through the Zappa-doused "Goodbye Sober Day," singer Mike Patton (late of Faith No More and currently also in Fantomas) launches into an austere Gregorian chant, complete with Latin benediction, then quick-shifts to a convincing Balinese kecak, or monkey chant, which is picked up by the group as a thrash motif. A bizarre juxtaposition of musics and belief systems, the track nonetheless works on every level. Other highlights of the disc include Patton's unironic crooning on "Retrovertigo," his impressively melodic doo-wop overdubs on "Vanity Fair," guitarist Trey Spruance's slick and swinging rockabilly jams on "None of Them Knew They Were Robots," and the liquid lightning of "Ars Moriendi," a Gypsy-ska-surf-rock hybrid featuring the impossibly fleet fiddling of Charming Hostess/Tin Hat Trio violinist Carla Kihlstedt.
It will be a miraculous feat when Mr. Bungle pulls off these ambitious arrangements in concert, and that's why, in part, these tickets will likely sell out in advance.
-- Sam Prestianni
Mr. Bungle performs with the Kids of Widney High on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 13 and 14, at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Tickets are $17; call 522-0333.