The latest album from Swedish psychedelic rockers Dungen is Tio Bitar which is set to be officially released in May of this year, 2007. This is their first album since 2004’s Ta Det Lugnt.
When I first heard the name Dungen I was a bit put off thinking that these guys would be some sort of silly death metal band but it turns out Dungen is actually Swedish for “the Grove.”
Dungen is mostly the work of vocalist and multi instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes who writes all of Dungen’s music and records most instrumental parts himself.
Dungen’s recordings have an analog sound to them. Very warm and inviting. Their music sounds very alive is very refreshing in the digital age. That being said I don’t think it’s fair to just classify Dungen as “retro psychedelic rock sung in Swedish” because there’s a real feeling of originality and invention to their music as well.
As a huge fan of Dungen’s last album I was very excited to hear this new release upon it’s early leak.
Tio Bitar starts off with a track that is titled simply “Intro” and this song hits like an absolute ton of bricks with a searing guitar solo that comes close to melting time itself. One of the coolest album openers I’ve heard in quite some time. If you are in any kind of daze it forces you to attention. The flute with loads of delay is a great touch to drop into the track when there’s nothing left to melt. A beautiful example of psychedelic rock. This is an instrumental track as there’s really no room left for vocals because of all of the rock that takes up all of the available space.
The album has no weak tracks in my opinion but among the stand outs are track #3 “Gor Det Nu” which goes back and forth from full on rock to a sort of half time sounding chorus. There’s a great combination of intense guitar rock with very subtle keyboard sounds in this track (and in many of the others on the album.) I haven’t spoken much of the vocals yet and I would say in comparison to the incredible music that the vocals do seem to get lost a bit in the mix but there are some beautiful harmonies and it doesn’t really bother me that the vocals are all in Swedish. Not being able to understand the lyrics adds to the otherworldly feel of the music.
Dungen also has a softer side as shown in track #4, the instrumental “C Visar Vagen,” which is a very lovely piece with beautiful acoustic guitar, strings, organ, and flutes. This track has a bit of an Indian vibe to it although it’s subtle. To me it really sounds like an original melding together of many different influences.
Track #6 “Mon Amour” may be the standout track on the album. At almost 9 minutes it’s an epic in length but more importantly it’s an epic in arrangement as it goes to different interesting places musically. It starts off with a very catchy section. Possibly the most catchy Dungen vocal part yet. At about 2 and a half minutes in the tempo starts to increase and a blinding guitar solo comes in for some brain melting action. I think Dungen may have the most exciting guitar solos being recorded today. They are both musically and sonically very interesting. These aren’t guitar solos for the guitar nerd types who buy Joe Satriani records. This is an adventure for those that like music that actually takes them somewhere. This is music that is extremely psychedelic.
To make the very lazy comparison the guitar work and sound is very Hendrix-esque and you don’t get many people that can pull this sort of guitar exploration without it just sounding ridiculous or retro. To me this music comes alive. It’s a journey and you can take the ride if you’d like. Absolutely mesmerizing.
As much as I liked Dungen’s last album, I think this new album blows it out of the water. This is my early favorite for album of the year.