Dungen’s detailed neo-psychedelia is melodic and beautifully conceived. No hiding behind drones and pedals here
Released 25th September via Mexican Summer
Swedish psychedelic four piece, Dungen, have recently released their strongest LP since the 2004 masterpiece Ta Det Lungt, and it’s their first LP in five years. Allas Sak, ‘everyone’s thing’, separates the band from the hordes of 21st century shoegazing-psych-pop at the very least in terms of consistency and longevity. Few other bands have lasted like Dungen have: Without a bad release and without signs of succumbing to the seductive, technologically-orchestrated mainstream.
Mastermind frontman Gustav Estjes explained that he intended the album to be an associative experience for listeners, one in which they will be able to create their own stories, to which they can ascribe their own meanings, and in that way the album can be their thing, and even “allas sak.”
Throughout around half of the album, Estjes soothes us vocally as he enigmatically weaves between an intricately-crafted ambience that is perhaps characteristic of neo-psych, but Dungen’s comes with an invigorated extent of experimentation and mirth that is absent in others. Their creativity shines throughout this near-perfect production balance of nostalgic 1960s-inspired psychedelia and the more refined and polished neo-psychedelic methods. Where other bands seem to focus on creating an enveloping drone, Dungen’s focus is on detailing melodic nuances, and from there they work their way up.
The entire album is in Swedish, and while, clearly, comprehensible to indigenous listeners, the overall experience for those of us inhibited by our language capabilities is not diminished. Without emphasis on lyrics (which are cool upon translation, by the way), layers of semantics are replaced by a pervasive mysticism.
It is within the instrumental songs and passages that Dungen’s genius truly lies. There is a plenitude of beautifully-crafted bass lines, dancing carefully around simple but effective drum patterns that are littered with sporadic (and in being sporadic they’re just about acceptable) Moon-esque fills.
All this works to provide a foundation for Estjes to use his vast instrumental repertoire. It is in these parts that the album can be appreciated in its most ecstasy-inducing form.
The sheer versatility provided by the varying prominence of guitar, flute, sax and piano, creates an atmospheric journey for the listener, improving with each listen. It begs for, and ultimately earns, the listener’s personal experiential association that Estjes desired all along.
I’m willing to forgive Dungen’s unwillingness to change or progress if they keep making records that are this good. Where some may see a futile repeat and a lack of progression, I see it as exactly what psych needs more of.