Release Date: May 15, 2007
Record label: Kemado
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The radiantly retro sound of 2005’s Ta det lugnt (Take It Easy) made these Scandinavian psych-rockers unexpected indie darlings in the U.S. Their follow-up, Tio Bitar (Ten Songs), doesn’t tinker much with its predecessor’s mesmerizing formula: two parts screaming riffs to one part placid chamber pop. Once again, English speakers need not understand a lick of Swedish to enjoy the music’s universally mind-expanding effects.
It is utterly compelling and maddening to listen to the opening "intro" off Swedish psych-prog outfit Dungen's third album Tio Bitar (which translates as "Ten Pieces/Songs"). It begins roaring out of the gate in a wall of guitar squall, but sounds like it's the middle of some long jam you missed the first half of. It squeals and roils with drums a batter and guitars in the middle of some freewheeling freak-out before it settles a bit and other, more textured sounds come into play before it simply fades.
Doe-eyed indie and wild-eyed proggy metal are the equally loved yin and yang of Swedish pop, so it is not surprising that Dungen's crack at straddling the two of them has rustled up plenty of fans. But then you listen to their second album, a hotchpotch of yelps, yowls and buzzing guitars, and you wonder if these groupies are more in love with a musical concept than the consequences. Imagine the Troggs playing at being Spinal Tap, or the Super Furry Animals on a very off-day at a prog convention.
Dungen never became "the new Zeppelin," but they've got a sense of humor about it. On fourth album Tio Bitar ("10 Pieces"), the Swedes ignite right from the "Intro," when we hear a siren and then smell the fire. And the flute. Singing in Swedish, as on 2005's excellent Ta Det Lugnt, multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes sticks more to rocking than singing, and why not? He could be vocalizing in Sigur Rós for all we know on the euphoric "Svart Är Himlen" and golden "Familj," which only imbues them with the necessary psychedelic blues.