Reviewed by: Bryan Culver
Allas Sak. The title of the proggy, Swedish neo-psych outfit Dungen’s latest release, is an expression that roughly translates to “everyone’s thing” or “anyone’s thing”. Dungen, which translates to “The Grove”, is the moniker for multi-instrumentalist and 60s-inspired, folk-rock aficionado Gustav Ejstes, who writes, sings, and is also responsible for most of the instrumentation on his records. On Allas Sak, Ejstes hopes that you’ll join him in his music making process as he departs on a mind-manifesting jam session that clocks in at just over 40 minutes. Although a predominantly instrumental record, Ejstes raspy lyrical content is completely sung in Swedish, so unless familiar with the language, he leaves the meaning of his music completely up to the listener’s interpretation.
In terms of overall sonic sensibilities, Allas Sak continues down a similar vein to previous Dungen releases. In terms of instrumentation, the 10-tracks cascade through fuzzed-out acid guitar, 60s-reminiscent drum brakes, and strung out carnival organ. Both transcendental Indian tabla and pan flute are present in “Franks Kaktus”—a tune that gives off a world-beat, fusion-jazz vibe. The infectious “Åkt Dit”, the second single from the record, sticks to a more orthodox prog-rock approach. This is Dungen’s 8th full-length since 2001, and Ejstes really hasn’t changed his style much over the years. Rather, he has tweaked and perfected his shag-carpet pallet—you can easily hear the heavy influences of Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, and especially Pink Floyd. Like 2010’s “Panda”, the tracks on Allas Sak create a groovy soundscape that’s easy to jive to. The record finishes with “Sova”, an 8-minute epic that could easily be compared to a Swedish “Us and Them” or “Brain Damage”.
There’s nothing to complain about here. Allas Sak is a compelling addition to the neo-psych cannon while still embracing a mellow, meditative vibe—a sensible choice as you stroll through the neighborhood this October while the dwindling summer leaves explode into red-brown and burnt orange and slowly drift down to earth. At the same time, nothing about this record is revolutionary. There’s no new territory being explored here. These last few years have been packed with similar releases from Foxygen, Temples, and Tame Impala, that also managed to exhibit a hip and fresh youthful take on the 60s. Dungen’s music can easily be considered a tribute to bygone era, or even pastiche. If you’re a junky for this stuff like I am, Allas Sak will fit neatly into your collection and be on moderate rotation for years to come. Otherwise, the appeal is a bit narrow and overall, feels a bit dated.