Over the past two years, the profile of Swedish psychedelic rockers Dungen has grown at an alarming rate, from a cult studio project into a worldwide musical phenomenon. And on Tio Bitar, we’re hearing the end results of an outpouring of success and support – one which has, for once, inspired the creative processes at hand to make something wholly new and original, yet remaining within the same sphere of emotions that fostered Dungen’s three previous albums.
“It’s similar to how they often do it in hip-hop,” Gustav states in his description his recording process. “One producer is behind it all, and in this case, I am that producer.” Feel free to draw your own conclusions as to how this all bears out – reasoning crumbles when you hear just what Gustav, Reine, and company have made happen through this process.
Several other musicians also have a considerable significance for the musical project Dungen; the drummer Fredrik Björling, who’s been there since the first album, both on the recordings and in the live version of Dungen. Mattias Gustavsson, who’s been the steady bassist in the live line-up since the “Ta det lugnt” album.Johan Holmegard who handles the drums on “4” and now also in the live version of Dungen. Dungen is a project that distinctly, effortlessly aligns its soundscapes and influences with an authority that will make you believe these sounds were always meant to go together.
Tracks like “Familj,” “Sa Blev Det Bestamt” and “Gor Det Nu” suggest a new, unburdened
direction for the belabored concept of “jamming.” Here, it hems in the melodies, borrowing some of their phrasings but spinning off into lucid counterpart, all anchored by the bass, drums, and organ. When vocals – as on past efforts, sung entirely in Swedish – or a flute appear, they’re diverging out to a third melody, still safely within the frame, in tune with each part. Complex arrangements find the songs boiling over with dozens of ideas, stitched together with studio flash, yet played so soulfully that there’s no evidence of the kind of smug, cynical hamminess that’s been hurting rock music since the early ‘70s. Nor is it the other extreme; no wide-eyed innocence and eagerness to please.
Tio Bitar follows world tours and enthusiastic responses from the press and public, and answers the praise with yet another set of cohesive, adventurous rock songs that can’t sit still, yet possess the vision and focus to distance itself from distraction and obvious influences. According to Gustav, it all comes down to one thing. “When I was eight years old,” Gustav remembers, “my mother gave me her copy of Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix. That’s where I first discovered and understood what a ‘groove’ was. Since then, whenever I heard that groove, I recognized it, and I liked it.” He’s not looking to emulate the past, though, at least on the past’s unfailingly outdated terms. “Dungen is not retro,” he states. “Dungen is contemporary. Contemporary because it consists of elements from both then and now.”