Dungen
Ta Det Lugnt
2004
A



the lyrics within Dungen's Ta det Lugnt offer no profound personal introspection, colorful metaphors or soul-challenging wisdom to the monolingual English-speaking population. Indeed, without singing a single word of discernable English, Dungen makes a convincing case that the emotional evocation of music lies not in the catharsis effect of spoken words, but the sheer empowerment of a configured, succession of notes.

True to the unpredictability of modern music, the most addictive sing-a-longs of 2004 come from a 24 year old, Swedish, native tongue-speaking, composing extraordinaire. This prodigy, Gustav Ejstes, working under the pseudonym Dungen has, in only his third try, recorded an utter masterpiece, conglomerating rich, psychedelic rock songs presenting one of the more unique sounds of this short-lived millennium—one that matches the ambition of the Fiery Furnaces' quirky rock opera, Blueberry Boat, the tasteful instrumental complexity of the Microphones and the throw-back production prowess of the The Go! Team.

The album's warm, uncompromising arrangements incorporate the great production attributes of the 1960's, democratically conjoining instruments into a singular mold of sound. Working as a compelling cohesive effort, the final mix tastefully limits the tone and clarity of each individual instrumental track without ever creating a sense of muddiness. All the instrumental figures within the album were predominantly written, played, and recorded by Dungen, himself. He juggles fuzzed out electric guitar riffs, lo-fi piano, dry acoustic guitar strumming and vintage keyboards over an impressive rhythm section that draws favorable comparisons to Jimi Hendrix's Experience back-up band. The tumbling percussion sounds as though it’s falling down a flight of stairs while managing to stay on rhythm and the hollow bass lines throb up and down scales, mimicking Noel Redding's 'play it like a guitar' approach to bass.

In general, Ta det Lugnt draws noticeable inspiration from the rockier, more intense side of 60's psych which Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane were associated, rather than the bubbly instrumentation and sunshiny harmonies of Beach Boys-type psychedelic-pop.

Though it refrains from the sheer popability of a "Sloop John B" or "Do You Believe In Magic", Dungen offers a handful of radio-ready singles that would be universally cherished in an ideal music world. The opening three tracks all attain an accessible brilliance that is blanketed by the safety net of loose verse-chorus-verse-chorus transitions. "Panda" jumpstarts this singles brigade, with an inspiring mix of Dungen's sincere melodies, phasing guitar, and a powerful rhythm section that leads right into the smiley, duple- metered "Ghort Bort Sig"—which could be a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot song, recorded 35 years ago. Taking a different route than the first two, "Festival"s acoustic guitar progression leads to a seamless key change that swells into a magnificent piano-driven fade-out.

The rest of the album builds upon the greatness of the three opening numbers. Both "Du E For Fin For Mig" and the title track sport progressive-rock formats of sorts, bridging multiple movements while filtering in and out of the sorts of vibrant instrumental ensembles that would make the Beta Band jealous. But as the album continues to unveil its ingenuity, track by track, incorporating new styles and ideas, no musician can help but be a bit envious of even Dungen's vocal abilities, which comes down approximately between the nasally Bowie and a serious Eno

Though vital and effective, these vocals take a rest during four tracks on the album. Breathing undertones of the experimental, voiceless sections of the Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, early Brian Eno, and Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, an eleven minute instrumental interlude breaks the album in half, while two additional instrumental tracks lead to the epic closer, "Sluta Folja Efter", in which staccato piano lines support fuzz bass, high hat smashes, churning synths and squealing feedback.

Much like a great foreign film that makes juggling attention between the cinematography and yellow words at the bottom of the screen seem like an effortless task, Dungen's universal emotional affect soars above all language barriers. He has captured a sound that few current artists challenge, and none have mastered to such a degree. Quite simply, Ta det Lugnt is one of the best releases of this year.

STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM'S ALBUM OF THE WEEK - OCTOBER 11 - OCTOBER 18, 2004



Reviewed by: Kyle McConaghy
Reviewed on: 2004-10-11
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