Dungen 1999-2001 / Stadsvandringar / Ta Det Lungt

Coming into the public’s consciousness a year ago with an album that was on import until just now (thanks to Kemado Records), Sweden’s Dungen have quickly become the psych-folk/rock revolution poster children by word of mouth. Now, thanks to three different labels, Dungen’s catalogue can be enjoyed chronologically, if desired. 1999-2001 successfully lays down the band’s agenda for tree-hugging, folk-drenched psych-pop. Divided into three epically composite parts, which range from noodly pap to feathery flute movements to kaleidoscopic freak-outs, it’s merely the shell of today’s band, but there is enough sonic boundary-pushing here for fans to embrace. Stadsvandringar follows suit nicely, finding the perfect middle ground between its predecessor and successor. Though available only as a U.S. import, this is a better document of Dungen’s magic, pinpointing the moment when Gustav Ejstes and co. found their footing for song structures. Not quite as poised or explosive as Ta Det Lungt, album two explores more of the band’s folkier side, with a heavier presence of the Beatles/Jethro Tull reverence. Ta Det Lungt is unquestionably their masterpiece and the best starting point for newcomers. From the opening blast of "Panda,” Dungen push their skill for psychedelic pop, folk, prog, free jazz, medieval and classic rock as naturally as such a heavy card can be pushed. Highlights come often with this assortment of songs that meld together via shimmering flutes, raining pianos, haunting chimes and those multi-faceted guitars and drums that can be as soft as they can explosive. The bonus disc contains a real solid track with vocals, but it’s the four distinctly rollicking instrumentals that make this well worth the re-investment. Such a progression and improvement over the course of three albums can only hint at what they have in store for the next one. (Subliminal Sounds / Astralwerks / Kemado)