Mr. Bungle: Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, Bar McKinnon, Trevor Dunn, Danny Heifetz.
Additional personnel: David Phillips (pedal steel guitar); Ben Barnes, Eyvind Kang, Carla Kihlstedt (violin, viola); Sam Bass, Marika Hughes (cello); Bill Banovetz (English horn); Michael Peloquin (harmonica); Henri Duscharme (accordion); Timb Harris (trumpet); Larry Ragent (French horn); Aaron Seeman (piano); Jay Steebley (cymbalom); William Winant (bass drum, tympani, tam tam).
Recorded at Coast Recorders, Division Hi-Fi, Forking Paths Studio and Different Fur, San Francisco, California.
Personnel: Mike Patton (vocals); Eyvind Kang, Ben Barnes, Carla Kihlstedt (violin, viola); Sam D. Bass, Marika Hughes (cello); Michael Peloquin (harmonica); Henri Duscharme (accordion); Bill Banovetz (English horn, horns); Timba Harris (trumpet); Larry Ragent (French horn, horns); Aaron Seeman (piano); William Winant (bass drum, tamtam, timpani).
Audio Mixers: Rob Worthington; Adam Mu¤oz.
Recording information: Coast Recorders, San Francisco, CA; Coast Records, San Francisco, CA; Differ; Different Fur, Los Angeles, CA; Different Fur, San Francisco, CA; Division Hi-Fi, San Francisco, CA; Forking Paths Studio, San Francisco, CA.
Photographer: Malcolm Hillier.
With CALIFORNIA, Mr. Bungle has largely ditched its infamous jazz/thrash/circus sound (especially evident on the group's first album) for an even more varied cinematic aesthetic that both embraces and gleefully subverts traditional pop structures. Simply put, this is probably as accessible as Bungle is bound to get, and the results are amazing in both their inventiveness and scope. (As stated in the album's tongue-in-cheek press release, CALIFORNIA shows "evidence of a rock band pretending to have roots in rock music.")
Opening with the lounge-laced "Sweet Charity," the album soon shifts to the sci-fi rockabilly/swing stylings of "None of Them Knew They Were Robots" and then to the crooning melodic pop of "Retrovertigo." On other dynamic compositions such as "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" and "Goodbye Sober Day," Bungle's quick-change genre-hopping is surprisingly seamless, with vocal gymnast Mike Patton acting as the conductor, narrator, and tour guide. "Pink Cigarette" is pure pulp-mystery music, while "The Holy Filament" wouldn't sound out of place on the BRAZIL soundtrack. Although these songs are ridiculously layered with hundreds of instrument and vocal tracks, CALIFORNIA doesn't sound overly complex, revealing only the finest of Mr. Bungle's warped yet playful traits.
Spin (11/99, p.186) - 7 out of 10 - "...CALIFORNIA's meticulous jump-cutting-bachelor-pad, Bollywood, Tuvan village, and beyond - coheres thanks to their masterful use of space and ambience..."
Q (2/00, p.90) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Few records embody such wild-ride adventure as CALIFORNIA....the world is Mr.Bungle's oyster and he gobbles them down by the dozen."
Alternative Press (8/99, p.93) - 4 (out of 5) - "...CALIFORNIA is the luau before the typhoon....experimental, catchy, tongue-in-cheek..."
CMJ (7/12/99, p.3) - "...With Mr.Bungle's latest album, [Mike Patton] found the open-ended outlet that allows him to manipulate his phonemes to deranged perfection."