Gustav Estjes, the wavy-haired wizard behind the Stockholm-based quartet, has toyed with audience perceptions for much of the last decade and his latest excellent effort continues his scrambling of Swedish folk, acid rock, and jazz fusion. Like a Scandinavian cognate to Madlib, Estjes ditches dull gravity for a sublime celestial groove. If his latest album title means anything, it's an attempt to finally shed any lingering expectations or preconceived notions. It's "Just Do It," for the artistically inclined.
Originally hemmed into the psych-rock genre, Dungen has increasingly incorporated orchestral sounds to produce the sort of genreless float that was once common in the early '70s, but rare in the contemporary indieocracy where bands battle to most artfully ape C86 or the Animal Collective.
Whereas most of their peers play instruments like an early period Wyld Stallyns, Dungen are virtuousos. The last time they came to town, I described it as: "the score to an Ingmar Bergman adaptation of 'The Electric Kool-Acid Test,' performed by a 'Tangerine'-era Led Zeppelin, if they really had come from the land of ice and snow -- an abstruse sort of transcendence impossible to understate or oversell. It’s unlikely that a single audience member understood any of the lyrics, but no one seemed to care. If the prevailing cliche holds that music is the universal language, then last night it was seen fluently speaking Swedish."
How did you end up selecting that album title and were you worried it might baffle people?
Well, the English translation doesn't really capture the full meaning of what it means in Swedish. It means don't give up on what you want out of life. Go for it. Don't let yourself have boundaries or limits. Do whatever you want. The Swedish definition is a little bit lighter.