Dungen - Haxan album review

The Swedish psychsters return with a bewitching soundtrack

Cover art for Dungen Häxan

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Dungen frontman and founder, Gustav Ejstes, much like Steven Wilson, is a player able to sift through the adventurous sonic explorers of the 60s and 70s and return from the vaults with something original. Asked to create a new score for the 1926 animated silent movie, The Adventures Of Prince Achmed, Dungen respond with a powerful suite of instrumental-only music.

With a certain degree of retro-refitting that echoes Floyd’s soundtrack playbook, citing Saucerful Of Secrets and especially More, small episodes, tightly-packed with spectacle and rich in exotic textures offer a generous and significant listening experience. Oblique and mysterious when required, perhaps the biggest surprise is just how much it bristles with memorable hooks and earworms. With some stark contrasts designed to signpost different moods, playful, easy-listening flute interludes teeter incongruously next to intense, explosive rock work-outs, leaving Reine Fiske’s distortion-rimed notes to slither out over vertiginous chasms of reverb. Darker, Mellotron-propelled fantasias spread icy patterns over Johan Holmegard’s motorik beats helping form standouts Achmed Flyger and Jakten Genom Skogen, creating glorious pictures for the mind.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.