Echoes of Mr. Bungle: Bär Mackinnon’s UMLAUT (Australia)

Meditative and charmingly addictive forays into experimental pop from the mind of Mr Bungle saxman Bär McKinnon, with some help from Melbourne legend Angus Leslie.

Sex On Toast

Umlaut is an experimental progressive band based out of Melbourne, Australia. It is the culmination of years of work for McKinnon. Umlaut’s eclectic musical stylings reside in the same vein as McKinnon’s previous bands Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3- injecting an energetic and whimsical blend of pop, jazz, avant-garde metal, symphonic atmosphere and electronica into its sound.

When Mr. Bungle officially disbanded, Bär was left with a mountain of material he had written for the band, so he decided to apply it towards a solo venture. Many of his Umlaut bandmates found him based on his prior music affiliations. According to McKinnon: “Melbourne is a very hip place as far as music and musicians and there’s no shortage of good musos so I’m super lucky that I ended up here, it just made the most sense. Musos sought me out, perhaps on the back of Bungle’s notoriety, I mean who knew a Mr Bungle member was living in Melbourne?”

Despite seeing many incarnations and line-up changes through the years, Umlaut has found a comfortable niche in the Melbourne music scene and continues to attract dedicated fans both locally and internationally.

The band has accompanied comedian Neil Hamburger as well as Secret Chiefs 3 on their various tours in Australia.

Band members

Bär McKinnon- tenor sax, flute, clarinet, keyboards, guitar, lead vocals
Angus Leslie- guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
Olaf Scott- keyboards
Hudson Whitlock- drums, percussion
Julian Langdon-bass
Shane Lieber- bass
Gareth Thompson- drums
John Myatt- bassoon
Rob McDonald- vibraphone
Pieta Hextall- bassoon

Guest performers:

Mike Patton- vocals (2009 album track “Atlas Face”)
Matt Lieber- drums (2009 album)
Jeff Lieber- guitar (2009 album)

Studio albums

Umlaut. Release Date: 10 October 2009 Label: Orchard. The album’s single “Atlas Face” features Mike Patton, Faith No More frontman and fellow Mr. Bungle bandmate, on lead vocals.

To Your Poverty Quietly Go. Release Date: 29 August 2014 Label: Romero Records/ Orchard

Arunachala. Release date: 19 April 2019. Label: Romero Records.

Kintsugi. Release date: 31 October 2019. Label: Romero Records

Live acts:

Umlaut perform Worktruck live at The Evelyn, Melbourne. 13-03-10
Umlaut live at The National Hotel, Geelong 11th June 2010 performing Bigfoot is Real.
Bär McKinnon (Bungle) with his band Umlaut playing Coldsore, an unreleased track Bär penned, and recorded with Mr Bungle for Disco Volante.
Umlaut perform Chill Pill live at The Evelyn Feb 4th 2011, supporting Mandek Penha and Pivixki.
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