The album's title refers to the name of the yacht of the same name featured in the James Bond film Thunderball, literally meaning "Flying Saucer" in Italian. Mr. Bungle had previously done a cover version of the film's theme song. This was featured on the demo Warner Bros. Mr Bungle Demo Rough Mixes.
Disco Volante would be founding member Theo Lengyel's final album with the band, leaving shortly after the tour due to "artistic differences". Band member Danny Heifetz would later comment, "I miss him. He added a huge chemical imbalance that helped us on the road. He hates us and rightfully so. The music changed, plain and simple. Very little call for saxes, trombone or flute. He was an original member. I'm not. Makes me feel a bit like a union-buster."
Disco Volante spawned a number of officially unreleased demos (circulated on internet peer-to-peer sharing networks): "Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz", "Coldsore" and "Spy". "Coldsore" featured portions later used in "Love on the Event Horizon". "Spy" didn't feature on the release at all. The vocal effect in this song (at 4:48) is taken from Jean-Luc Godard's sci-fifilm noirAlphaville, using a mechanical voice box to create the effect.
Disco Volante has been well received by critics. In their highly favorable review of the album, AllMusic wrote, "Mr. Bungle is the musical equivalent of a David Lynch movie", calling the music a "totally original and new musical style, and an album that sounds like nothing that currently exists." They referred to the track "Desert Search for Techno Allah" as "a middle eastern techno number that has to be heard to be believed." Stylus Magazine, in their 2005 review, wrote, "A decade later, Disco Volante still sounds daring." In 2014, the album placed fourth on the Alternative Nation site's "Top 10 Underrated 90’s Alternative Rock Albums" list.
"The Bends" ("Man Overboard", "The Drowning Flute", "Aqua Swing", "Follow the Bubbles", "Duet for Guitar and Oxygen Tank", "Nerve Damage", "Screaming Bends", "Panic in Blue", "Love on the Event Horizon", "Re-Entry")
Patton, Spruance, McKinnon
"Merry Go Bye Bye" (contains untitled track)
Spruance ("Merry Go Bye Bye")
Spruance ("Merry Go Bye Bye")
Note: The untitled track after "Sleep (Part II): Carry Stress in the Jaw" is often titled "The Secret Song" (the working title of the song) or "Spy" (the title that appears on various concert setlists). It was originally recorded without bassist Trevor Dunn's input or knowledge; although, shortly before its release, Dunn managed to find it and added a vocal track. Though never explicitly stated, it is believed (by Dunn) that the drums were played by McKinnon, and the bass guitar by Patton. The untitled improvised section after "Merry Go Bye Bye" is listed as "Nothing" on the album sleeve, but is not actually its title; it is credited to Theo Lengyel and Danny Heifetz as a sly reference to the fact that neither of them wrote any songs on the album.