Dungen’s “Familj”

Tonight, I’m going to tie up a loose end.

Originally, I planned to include this Dungen post alongside the prior entries for Melody’s Echo Chamber and Moodoïd, both of which published a few weeks back.

Dungen’s got direct relations to the former. Two of their four members, frontman Gustav Ejstes and guitarist Reine Fiske, contributed songcraft to Melody Prochet’s sophomore effort “Bon Voyage.” The Swedish quartet is completed by bassist Mattias Gustavsson and drummer Johan Holmegard.

Dungen don’t have anything to do with Moodoïd … at least, not directly. But there’s a tenuous link to founder Pablo Padovani, who also plays guitar for Melody’s Echo Chamber. So I figured, if I connect the stream of conscious dots, Dungen could complete my loose association.

Okay, now that I’ve got that cleared up, let’s dig a little deeper into the bedazzling wonderment of the somewhat obscure and entirely unconventional folkloric prog-rock of Dungen … which, if you’re wondering, translates as “the grove.”

I first encountered Dungen while working a labor intensive night shift in the visual effects world for motion pictures. I can’t say I have good memories of the era, which is roughly the mid-’00s. But I learned a lot, made some lifelong friends, and heard a lot of really eclectically weird music, including this long running Stockholm act – twenty-one years and counting.

My introduction was the distinctly freeform kaleidoscopic jazz-like number “Familj,” meaning “family.” It possesses this otherworldly asymmetrical openness, a cosmically-spaced instrumental ballad of twinkling carnivalesque keyboard chimes, embellished by interwoven twirls of electric and acoustic string-like strums, sudden bursts of percussive power drumming, and a smooth spread of velvet-coated vocals, all delivered in the native Swedish tongue.

At 3 a.m., which was the typical listening hour, “Familj” felt like the perfect surreal night cap to a shift that was literally nowhere near its end.

That was thirteen years ago, and experiencing “Familj” today still conjures those supremely exotic notes, unparalleled and incomparable, stuck in some ’70s stereophonic echo chamber of compressed fuzz and monophonic resonance. I should also add that, for me, it vividly recalls those bewitching night shift hours, which, I guess, is how my memory will forever frame this song. There’s pros and cons to that, but that’s life.

See what kind of memories Dungen’s “Familj” will embed into your subconscious.

“Familj” from the 2007 album “Tio Bitar.”

“Familj” sources from Dungen’s fifth album “Tio Bitar,” translated as “Ten Pieces,” released back in ’07. Like the aforementioned tune, this wildly eclectic effort served as my gateway to glide amongst their psychedelic tangents, twisted and curved in seeming acidic moodswing improvisation, from wah-wah bursts to fluttery flutes, yet ultimately far focused, looping back in its mobius melodies to wrap things up in a transcendental twist.

Oddly, it’s not necessarily considered their crowning achievement. I think that honor goes to their previous ’04 release “Ta Det Lugnt,” translated as “Take It Easy.” But “Tio Bitar” was my initiation, with all the accompanying memories, both good and bad. So I’ll always hold it as my favorite.

As such, I’m going to conclude with an embed of Dungen’s “Tio Bitar.” Try it out late night, as I first did all those years ago. It might just be the trip you need.

Dungen’s fifth album, the 2007 release “Tio Bitar.”