Published on 22nd June 2017
Dungen – Häxan
Stately and processional, this captivating soundtrack, written for the oldest surviving animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, is a difficult one to review, as the live experience with the film as a backdrop is the proper way to fully absorb this piece of music. Luckily the far-reaching tentacles of TPA dropped our man Dan Burke in at the sharp end to witness that mesmerising trip over in Philadelphia, PA.
However, it falls upon yours truly to attempt to disseminate about the matter in hand. The main difference between this album and Dungen’s previous deeply psychedelic offerings is the absence of vocals, which are compensated for by the interweaving themes and general otherworldliness of the music, which veers from traditional Scandinavian folk influences to full-blown acid rock, through early Floydian kaleidoscopic headrush, and it even ventures into motorik rhythms, absorbing all these sounds with ease into the vast scope of its sonic vista. While continuing their love affair with the psych-rock era, unlike some bands in thrall to the same era who rarely ventured beyond pastiche – I’m looking at you, Kula Shaker – Dungen take the obvious influences and always come up with something fresh.
Indeed the best way to experience this record is to turn the lights down low, light one up, set the controls to stun, and let it transport you to a familiar yet still altered state. After an ambient start, followed by some very raw fuzzed out guitar we enter the saucerful world of Trollkarlen och fågeldräkten. Some very grand piano leads the kaleidoscopic title track across the treetops hanging on for dear life to the broom as the witch (Häxan) comes in to land to bubble, toil and trouble the stormy night.
Produced in the old-fashioned manner by hand to tape, the album was put together without regard to the sequence of the film, which gives it a life all its own. Kalifen finds the band taking a detour to a glorious shade of pale in a never ending ascendant organ-led and almost elegiac homage, that dissipates into an echoplex psychedelic brew of some note. Marvellous stuff!
The final track, Andarnas Krig, jolts us out of the pleasant reverie that has taken us through Aladdin and Prince Achmed’s meanderings with slabs of primitive and wildly ecstatic guitar, embarking on a freeform ur-rock voyage to nowhere on a stormy sea, lightning flashes overhead, all grim portent and unfettered primal urges given free range in the manner of Guru Guru at their most wanton. This is a suitably shamanistic end to an album of deep contrasts and thoroughly absorbing derring-do that will find itself being given many spins chez moi.
01. Peri Banu vid sjön (3:01)
02. Jakten genom skogen (4:10)
03. Wak-Wak’s portar (1:35)
04. Den Fattige Aladdin (0:30)
05. Trollkarlen och fågeldräkten (4:30)
06. Grottan (0:58)
07. Häxan (2:48)
08. Aladdins flykt över havet (0:59)
09. Kalifen (4:37)
10. Achmed flyger (4:33)
11. Aladdin och lampan, del 1 (0:49)
12. Aladdin och lampan, del 2 (1:12)
13. Achmed och Peri Banu (3:10)
14. Andarnas Krig (6:21)
Total Time 39:20
Gustav Ejstes – Keyboards, Guitar
Reine Fiske – Guitar
Johan Holmegård – Drums
Mattias Gustavsson – Bass