OK Computer?

Why Swedish act Dungen's psychedelic rock is like the Terminator

"This opened up a brand new world. Suddenly it was clear that he, instead of taking a detour through sampling, should play all the instruments he heard and prove that he could make it himself. Gustav simply returned to the old servants guitar, drums, bass and keyboards."


Up to this point, I've been maniacally expounding my theory that Ejstes is a pop-rocker biocomputer, and yammering about the ultramodern methods I imagine he employed to create Ta Det Lugnt. But, since Dungen makes classic pop music, I really owe you straight-up answers to such fundamental questions as: Is this music beautiful? And, do I find it enjoyable to listen to? Well, I do dig the more overtly far-out tracks like "Du E För Fin För Mig," which seamlessly mutates from an intentionally maudlin Baroque-pop ditty to candy-colored Hendrix six-string freakout in just less than nine minutes. I also praise the title track for a similar feat; in eight minutes roughly five of my favorite '60s records are condensed into one epic fucker. I get to hear (for a fifth of the cost) some Britpop, a little stoned space-rock, a smidgen of boogie-rock, an odd musique concrète interlude, and a spicy Latino psych-groove replete with a smoothly reverberating sexy-sax solo. (Santana III smokes; I shit you not.) It's as if the musical oeuvre of the entire hippie movement is now a buffet table laid out for Ejstes to effortlessly forage. But, lurking just behind this sonic abundance and just underneath Dungen's soaring-higher-than-Icarus, multilayered harmonies and just inside Ejstes' penchant for crafting infinite litanies of utterly hummable hooks is a real modern sickness, which I can only explain via the following metaphor.

While recently grocery shopping at Safeway, my wife and I spotted this insane-looking photograph of Goldie Hawn at the magazine racks. Not only has Goldie apparently hired a bevy of plastic surgeons in an attempt to forever remain the fly '60s chick she so totally was back in the Laugh-In days, but the magazine also utilized every cutting-edge, digital airbrush technique available to further turn poor Goldie into some garish, unapproachable creature, which didn't resemble vintage Hawn in any way whatsoever. Now, without sounding overly dramatic, Ejstes has a tendency to turn the '60s rock he loves so dearly into something comparable to the modern-day Franken-Goldie on the cover of that magazine. He so single-mindedly desires to re-create and intensify the ineffable beauty of classic '60s music that what he winds up producing is a cold, piercing, mutant caricature of said beauty. Plus, he's a rather vain artist to boot; significant stretches of Ta Det Lugnt play out as nothing more than gratuitous displays of Ejstes' cyberhuman ability to condense an entire era's worth of music into a three-minute pop tune. Call it psych-pop pornography.

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: These Dungen 
masters may look human, but they're not.
Carl Abrahamsson
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto: These Dungen masters may look human, but they're not.

What Ejstes often fails to capture and what so many musicians in this emerging age of transhuman technology fail to capture when they're busy masterfully schooling us on the history of music via the three-minute ditty is this: the warm glow of humanity. That's what music and art, especially from the '60s, are all about, regardless of how either is created. It's not about pummeling listeners' minds with hypercomposed, Beatles-esque hooks; that's just gross. And, if this young whiz-kid, hip-as-shit pop-rocker from Sweden can understand that, then maybe, just maybe, a real fucking masterpiece will someday be released with the curious name Dungen appearing across its cover.

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