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coverpic flag Sweden - Full Moon 148 - 10/14/08

Subliminal Sounds

Ah, this is really something for a BOF like me. Dungen's music gives reverberations of music from old times, mainly the second half of the 1960s and first half of the 70s. At the same time it includes lots of contemporary elements. A listener half my age probably won't think of or bother about the fact. The blend of elements sounds contemporary. And it makes me feel I'm into something of importance in the music world of today. The album has even made it to the local best selling lists, not only in Sweden.

I haven't heard a lot of Dungen's earlier works, only a reissue of their first album. I knew they were inspired by Swedish folk music, psychedelia and progressive rock. And the band has figured on my list of music I ought to check out for a long time, along with another Swedish folk-inspired band Den Fule, and numerous others. 4 was a bit of a surprise. Not many folk elements here. But there are several paths back to the 60s and 70s. The album starts with some piano chords that sound like a mixture of something by the late Richard Wright of early Pink Floyd heydays and a jazz-rock band of the early 70s. In a way it signals that Dungen's front man Gustav Ejstes concentrates more on piano, and other keyboards to some extent. But there are still enough guitars around to keep everyone busy, mainly fuzz-drenched ranging from the dirty to the beautiful kind, played by Reine Fiske of the Dungen live band. Earlier, Gustav has dominated the studio recordings. On 4, the three other members of the live band participate on every track, particularly Fiske and drummer Johan Holmegard, occasionally bass player Mattias Gustavsson and a couple of guest musicians.

The contents of 4 ranges from hazy psychedelic guitar excesses to the wary and melodious. The latter reminds of some of the great bands and artists of the Swedish underground and progressive movement of the 1970s, particularly the early original solo albums by Mikael Ramel (also a member of Fläsket Brinner for a couple of years, one of the dominating bands of that movement). Particularly in "Ingenting Är Sig Likt" (meaning something like Nothing Is The Same) and the vocal parts of "Finns Det Någon Möjlighet" (Is There Any Chance). It has something to do with the relaxed mood, I guess. Dungen means 'the grove' which fits nicely with those relaxed songs, being sophisticated and playful in a casual way, eccentric and tender.

The instrumental "Fredag" (Friday) and opening track "Sätt Att Se" (A Way To See) are excellent examples of Dungen's ability to mix instrumental elements and skills in a novelty kind of way. The former includes a delightful original blend of lead bottleneck guitar (or a lap steel, perhaps?), discreet piano, ditto fuzz guitar (believe it or not) and organ. The latter song has a sore guitar, also a similar violin in the second half, and vocals up front, and strange rubbing strings that push the song forwards. There's also percussion beats that threaten to drown the entire song in between. And then there is the poetic interplay of piano, violin and flute of the instrumental "Målerås Finest" (I guess it means that the place Målerås is the finest or something that is the very best in Målerås...).

There are two superfluous tracks of the album, the excerpts "Samtidigt 1" and Samtidigt 2" (At The Same Time 1 and 2) that are parts of a long instrumental acid jam. Especially the first part leads nowhere, as far as I can see. Guitarist Reine Fiske is not the new Jimi Hendrix, at least not yet. Otherwise 4 makes me eager for more and ready to explore the band's back catalogue more thoroughly. Btw., to my reckoning 4 is Dungen's fifth album... The quartet will start a tour of North America next week. Look them up if you can, or at least pay their home page a visit.

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You may also want to check out our Dungen articles/reviews: Häxan, Skit I Allt.

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