Dungen Ta Det Lugnt

[Subliminal Sounds; 2004]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: psychedelic rock, prog rock
Others: The Soft Machine, Hendrix, early King Crimson

Just when I thought the term "psychedelia" would in the future only be applied mournfully to the gangrenous limbs of Elephant 6 or dubiously to freak outfits like Animal Collective, Dungen arrives, like a bat out of Sweden, to reclaim the genre and totally flatten our unprepared minds.

What deserves mention before any talk of the towering awesomeness of Dungen's sound is the effortless precision of its delivery, which first manifests itself in a fervent 20-second drum intro and never relents. The bass and guitar lines throughout the album are inhumanly fluid, careening around each other in glistening harmonic structures. Later introducing a soft bed of strings, mellotron, and a noodling piano, the aural face of this album is frighteningly flawless: a technical perfection that only lends to the mythic proportions of the songs, behemoths so pregnant with ideas and so rich in sound that they seem to stretch for miles.

The tracks on the first half of the album average six minutes in length. Their thick, buoyant phrases touch on themes of sunny Southern rock, breezy pastoral hymns, and epic medieval ballads, with fiery, acid-laced guitar licks and tumbling drum fills falling out all over the place. In true vinyl-minded form, side B takes a stark turn, veering into abstract cerebral experimentation. All of this is to prepare you for the finale, however: a titanic, bleeding plodder whose languid melodrama looms a hundred feet over your cowering, unworthy soul.

Ta Det Lugnt is anything but revelatory; it covers well-worn ground, in that it could have existed 30 years ago. But it makes no claims of novelty. It exists to refine what has come before, not to reinvent it. Still, the result, polished without being slick, isn't predictable or vapid. There's a difference between rigidity and rigor. Dungen reminds us that rock doesn't have to come from the garage.

1. Panda
2. Gjort bort sig
3. Festival
4. Du E För Fin För Mig
5. Ta Det Lugnt
6. Det du tänker idag är du i morgon
7. Lejonet & kulan
8. Bortglömd
9. Glömd konst kommer stundom ånyo till heders
10. Lipsill
11. Om du vore en vakthund
12. Tack Ska ni ha
13. Sluta Följa Efter