Review: Dungen Does It Distinctly

Dungen/En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog/Mexican Summer
3.5 out of Five Stars

Gustav Ejstes, aka Dungen, easily avoids categorization. Twenty years on into a prolific career, he manages to easily veer between what’s best described as progressive power pop and a sound that drifts into a kind of cosmic cacophony. Since making his mark with his breakthrough opus, Ta Det lungt, in 2014, he’s continued to keep audiences expecting the unexpected, mostly by leading them through sudden shifts in his sonic terrain.

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The new Dungen album, En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog (translation: One is Too Much and a Thousand is Never Enough), is the latest example of that verve and versatility, a series of songs that begin by lulling listeners with their melodic charms before jolting them with a full forward throttle of stunning psychedelia. The steady pulse of the opening track “Skövde”—named for the town where Ejstes grew up—provides some fanciful finesse, a stylistic imprint that’s sustained with “Om Det Finns Något Som Du Vill Fråga Mig” before beginning to go astray with “Nattens Sista Strimma Ljus.”

Granted, one might say all meaning is lost in the translation, a fair assessment given that the songs are sung in Swedish, but even so, someone with a good amount of linguistic expertise might find it hard to follow the cascade of cosmic cacophony unleashed by “Möbler,” or the heavy-handed grunge that suddenly intrudes on the otherwise ethereal trappings of “Klockan Slår Den Är Mycket Nu.” So too, the spacey sounds of the title track and cerebral sensibilities of “Om Natten” make any attempt to effectively define the album practically impossible. Tones and textures frequently collide, creating a complex mesh of sounds that come across as both aloof and alluring all at the same time. How Ejstes manages to achieve that effect is, by most measures, difficult to discern. Yet the fact that he’s able to do so is a justifiable measure of his means and mystique.

Granted, En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog isn’t the kind of album that aims for accessibility. Nor is it a set of songs that will invite the unsuspecting to simply hum along. However, for those that are up for a more adventurous interlude, it’s nothing less than an intriguing endeavor all around.

Photo Credit: Isak Berglund Mattsson-Mårn / Chromatic PR

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