Sweden - Full Moon 249 - 12/14/16
Smalltown Supersound / Mexican Summer
We've featured Dungen's exiting blend of new and old in our menus on a couple of occasions earlier. Check out the review of the band's fifth album 4, for an introduction to the original and tasty Dungen blend of folk, psych, progressive, trance etc. We missed out on last year's Allas Sak. Shame on us! But it has taken a mere 14 moonths to complete this new one, Dungen's eighth album and the first to be completely instrumental. It's a film soundtrack, not for a new film, but what is considered the oldest surviving full-length animated film there is, Die Abenteuer Des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures Of Prince Achmed) by Lotte Reiniger from 1926. What would be considered a fantasy film these days, based on more than one of the fairy-tales from One Thousand And One Nights, I guess, including the wicked sorcerer, Aladdin and the magic lamp, you know. The music is dominated by Dungen main man Gustav Ejstes' many keyboards. Reine Fiske's guitars only come full front on a few of the 14 album tracks.
In between it's not hard to understand that the music was conceived as a soundtrack. The short "Grottan" (The Cave) for instance, is very effective and minimalistic with a simple hovering eerie keyboard and a bit creepy guitar in the background. It gives me visions of Aladdin being locked inside the dark cave, although I haven't seen the movie. (And no, it's not visions from the Disney movie; it's a lot more spooky than that...) The opening track "Peri Banu Vid Sjön" (Peri Banu By The Lake) is calm with long keyboard and guitar notes, very beautiful, from a very calm and beautiful scenery, hopefully. Whereas there is danger at "Wak-Wak's Portar" (The Gates Of Wak-Wak) judged from the distorted guitar and disturbed flute.
For one who has listened to popular music for the last around 50 years it can be a treat to find references to music of the past in new releases, if carried out with finesse. The Dungen members master this art, and highlights of this kind include "Kalifen" (The Caliph) with an organ that resembles vintage Procol Harum, some great Terje Rypdal-alike guitar riffs in "Trollkarlen Och Fågeldräkten" (The Sorcerer And The Bird Costume) and the hovering organ and piano of "Achmed Flyger" (Achmed Flies) with echoes of Pink Floyd around 1968-69. But blended with contemporary Dungen elements as well.
Not all film soundtracks work isolated from the motion pictures. Häxan (The Witch) manages to stand firm on its own as an audio offering. It may not be my all-time Dungen favourite album, I guess Skit I Allt from 2010 still is. But Häxan certainly is an interesting and original album compared to the others of the Dungen cannon. And it sure would be interesting to see the film with the new soundtrack in all its splendour.
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