Tag Archives: mr. bungle

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Ars Moriendi,” Mr. Bungle (1999)

There are quite a few Mr. Bungle songs that change drastically in tone throughout a four-minute song.

They’ll go from jazz to death metal. They’ll go from klezmer to operatic. They’ll go from doo-wop to, I don’t know, scatological. That’s what “Ars Moriendi,” from Mr. Bungle’s final album California, accomplishes. Though California is certainly Mr. Bungle’s most accessible album—and it is, by far, my favorite—NME calls the band, which formed a few years before Patton was tapped as Faith No More’s lead singer, his “truest, sickest love.”

The song title is Latin, and it means “art of dying.” And man, it is schizophrenically paced.

NME describes it as “mixing Arabian skirmishes with blitzing metallic riffage and note-perfect [elevator] muzak.” All of that is true. But the 29 seconds I love the best are the raging Arabian-tinged techno beat that morphs into downright hard rock (it goes from 1:17 to 1:46 in the song). It harkens back to Mr. Bungle’s second album on the song titled “Desert Search for Techno Allah” (don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get to it.).

Also, the final lyrics of the song are fantastic. “So feast on me/All my bones are laughing/As you’re dancing on my grave.” It reminds me a little of the title track off FNM’s King For a Day when he sings, “Don’t let me die with that silly look in my eye.”

I dig those kinds of vague sort of callbacks to earlier parts of Patton’s career. I have no idea if Patton did that on purpose. But I kind of like to imagine that he did.

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Platypus,” Mr. Bungle (1995)

This is one of the last songs on the Disco Volante album, so it’s certainly one of the tunes I’ve listened to least off this record (and one of the songs I know the least from the entire Mr. Bungle catalog). But it does give Patton plenty of room to work—he croons, he does a strange spoken word, he does a little scatting, he screams. The song is also rather schizophrenic, moving from jazz to death metal in no time at all.

My favorite part of this song, though, is not Patton. Rather it’s Trevor Dunn’s bass.

There’s actually a lot to like in this song, but there’s also plenty of less accessible moments, the kind of stuff that insured Mr. Bungle would not see anything close to the kind of success experienced by Patton in Faith No More or Tomahawk (and god spare me, the brief appearances of that Howie Mandel Gizmo voice).

The more I listen to this song, the more I think it’s a pretty good epitome of the entire Disco Volante album. Of the three Mr. Bungle records, this one is certainly the most experimental—some of it is incredible and some it, well, not so great. The same goes for this song.

But the more I listen to this tune—which apparently is actually about a platypus—the more I like it. Ten minutes ago, I couldn’t have told you what “Platypus” sounded like. But nearly 25 years after this record arrived in my life, I’ve finally realized I should probably listen to it a little more often.

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.