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More Dungen, less dragons

Swedish psych-rockers’ latest album, ‘Tio Bitar,’ prescribes a few more pills and a nap on the couch

Sorry, dudes. Hazy, overly repetitive psych-rock (filled with extended jams and, like, totally NO lyrics, maaaaan!) has never really been my bag. I just tend to hate music that makes dropping acid a prerequisite.


ALBUM: Tio Bitar
LABEL: Kemado Records

Occasionally, Stockholm-based outfit (and sort-of overnight sensation thanks to last year’s “Ta Det Lugnt”), Dungen falls into that very trap – you know, the one in which expertly trained musicians capable of far more substantive endeavors accidentally mistake now for the ’60s. At times, their fourth album “Tio Bitar” (translation: “Ten Pieces”) can still drag on too damn long even despite its two-handed number of shorter tracks than usual.

Instead of the entirely fist-pumping, hard-rocking landscapes that made up Dungen’s earlier catalog, “Tio Bitar” means to float through the mellower, melodious highs of psychedelia, classic and folk rock. Surprisingly, some of the results are almost enjoyable rather than wholly intolerable, but more so in a background music sort of way. However, sandwiching the album’s seductive suites between bouts of lagging sonic drone makes them seem to glide by as quick and near-transparent as liquid.

“Intro” is a dirty, squealing opener more raucous than righteous. With almost four minutes of barely more than a shrill guitar riff (or lack thereof) and blisteringly unstructured drums, it’s an unfortunate introduction to the rest of “Tio Bitar’s” better content.

“Familj” follows, a sprawling, dream-like ballad that takes you to a gorgeous place but clocks in about two minutes past its peak. Then the band stirs up a storm with the booming “Gör Det Nu,” a song that removes all resemblance to its sunny predecessor and quickly recalls the first with its face-melting sound. Then we’re suddenly back to lush, smooth scenery on “C Visar Vägen,” complete with a hypnotic fiddle-and-flute melody. I’m freaking out, man!

The especially lengthy, mostly unpleasant cut “Mon Amour” marks Dungen’s complete surrender, masturbatory soloing and all, to the far-out self-indulgence they’ve already proven capable of sidestepping. Ringleader and primary member Gustav Ejstes (his abilities transcend well beyond a black hole like this) is a top-notch musician who started writing songs as a teenager and diligently trained on just about every instrument, familiar and new, found throughout “Tio Bitar.”

Thankfully, the album’s lapses come in varying degrees and are stabilized enough by a decent amount of bright, idyllic moments to make me somewhat less of a hater. I wouldn’t pass this one up necessarily, but come ready for what may be required to, you know, “get” it.

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