Mr. Bungle's final album saw the Northern California experimenters bringing more focus to their sound. Sure the wild genre hopping was still there, but there's more orchestration and melody, and a heavy lounge vibe permeates the majority of the album. Throughout the record we hear traces of pop, swing, rockabilly, country & western, bossa nova, Hawaiian music, jazz, Zappa doo wop, arty funk, post rock, space age pop, a little Ennio Morricone, warped circus melodies, some pseudo new age, and just a little heavy metal. There are not quite as many random juxtapositions within each song and the song structures are slightly more traditional than on their previous albums. However, there is still plenty of oddball creativity to be found. Both "Retrovertigo" and "Pink Cigarette" take a slow, leisurely walk towards insanity, rather than just jumping right into it. Their melodies are infectious, ready to stay with you for a while. But then "Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy" sounds like they got locked in the studio with Beck and decided to torture him. California is a testament to Mr. Bungle's knack for creativity and their innate musicianship. And let's not forget that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had Warner delay the release of this record so it would not coincide with the release of Californication.
- 180 gram pressing
- music label: Warner Bros. Records 1999 / Music On Vinyl 2014
reviewed by Halal Guy 07/2015