DUNGEN: 4 (Subliminal Sounds SW XMLP-SUB30) LP
Dungen’s fourth studio album extends the acclaimed Swedish outfit’s sound past psychedelia into something far more rare. Moving beyond mere stylistic concerns, 4 finds Gustav Ejstes’ focus on the extremes of Dungen’s sound separating into two entities. Blazing, raw guitar workouts have their own time and place, but now, so do stirringly orchestrated, jazz-cooled compositions with cinematic undertones. Bandleader Gustav Ejstes has made many allusions to his creative process as it likens to that of a hip-hop producer. On 4, that process is more evident than ever, both in the feel of each piece, and in the sense of intuition and control within the members of the group. New drummer Johan Holmegard joins guitarist Reine Fiske and bassist Mattias Gustavsson, while Ejstes steps away from guitar for the entire album, focusing on the piano as his lead instrument. Together, they have honed a classic and seamless sound, constructed with lavish studio flourishes and moving, narrative arrangements, and yet able to toughen up to tear veins of fierce blues-psych instrumentals up from the surface. The ten tracks on 4 comprise Dungen’s most concentrated effort to date, beats surging forth and atmosphere changing as their sound continues to evolve. Every song here runs under five minutes, pushing the group to introduce confident melodies and arresting ambiance in tighter frameworks. Gauging from the results, this challenge has done them well. Included in this set are live favorite “Mina Damer och Fasaner,” excerpts from a wild psychedelic jam session entitled “Samtidigt”, and a storming, Northern Soul-influenced instrumental entitled “Fredag”. These stand tall with some of the most fully-realized moments of Dungen’s career; percolating prog-pop groover “Det Tar Tid” and eloquent opener “Satt At Se. With a penchant for lush pop portraits, and laced with orange sunshine guitar flash, 4 turns a page in Dungen’s sound and story.