Swedish-Tropicalia-Brit-Prog Is As Oddly Striking As You’d Expect

I don’t think I have much that is of substance to say about Swedish band Dungen’s new album, called Skit i Allt. And maybe that makes sense; it’s not really a strikingly substantial record. But despite that insubstantiality, it still managed to make an impact on me, leaving its weird stylistic pastiche rattling around my head for a few days. It’s an impressive record if for no other reason than its sheer unexpectedness.

For starters, the title of the record is Skit i Allt, which literally translates to “fuck it all,” a pretty nihilistic, angsty kind of statement. And the band is described by most as “psychedelic rock.” All told, I kind of got the impression that Dungen would have more in common  with, for instance, nordic prog-metal monsters Lordi or with fuzzy psych-rockers The Olivia Tremor Control than, say, with Genesis. But I really don’t know where I got that impression. The reality is, on this album, Dungen actually kind of DO sound like Genesis.

For one, there’s not a lot of intensity here sonically. Aside from a semi-trippy Pink Floyd-sounding section on “Högdalstoppen,” the album is mostly very sunny. That’s probably because there’s a lot of what sounds like tropical and latin influence here. “Barnen Undrar” has a guitar solo that sounds straight lifted from Os Mutantes (arguably, Os Mutantes do for traditional Brazilian jazz what Dungen does for British prog). And production-wise, the album shares some tricks with the Bossa Nova sound, even from the flute-filled get-go on opening track “Vara Snabb.”

It’s weird to have to describe a record from a nominally freak-out-rock band as being positively breezy. I think if you come into this record with a grounding the group’s apparently more firey and fuzzy back-catalog, this record might sound listless. But to my untrained ear, it sounds like a surprising collision of a lot of styles that is totally enjoyable from beginning to end.

Skit i Allt is maybe not world-changing, but the sound this album achieves is so unique that, like the best of Os Mutantes or of Jethro Tull or of any of their sonic progenitors, it’s destined to be lodged somewhere in the recesses of my mind. It’s a sound that I imagine will come rushing back to me when I get even a taste of it some time in the future.

Dungen’s website, with samples.

The video for “Skit i Allt.”

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