Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Genty
It's a better thing that those of us who don't speak the Swedish language can't understand the words that Dungen's Gustav Ejstes sings. It's how we feel about the French-Canadian band Malajube too, when they've got that Parisian/Quebec-ean gorgeousness going on in their lyrics. We're not predisposed to having to give proper meaning to anything. We don't have that inclination to either say one way or the other - the way we would to someone whose name (take Stacy or Lance or Brian) doesn't seem to fit them or their personality - that those words aren't fitting to the kinds of movement happening inside at the behest of the music, that it's not the business that you're recognizing. We're not precluded to feel or get a summary of what's being dramatized by one, two, three, four, five or more people. Ears can freshly and crisply interpret as the eyes can help with the imagery, or stay glassy and blank and just let the full body get shuffled away like a willing captive. We're able to just take in the fluidity of the efforts, to recline into what becomes an effervescent pool of ease and ardor. We are able to just get flushed and flustered and swept away like a leaf in a current even if the words - were we to understand them - should make no reference whatsoever to leaves or a body of quickly shifting water. Dungen are a cavalcade of wisps and whimpers, the tatters of a flag whipping in the wind, the broken wings of a sad-eyed creature, the smoke from an exhaling mouth limping roundly and vertically up to the dark heavens, the moments when everyone pauses, the sighs of the worn out and the inspired. The band from Stockholm unflinchingly balances between water, ice and steam in creating their soundscapes of abandonment and release - of the meeting of the soft touch and the lusty grope. It's love and uncertainty experimenting with one another in any number of glorious combinations, all of which require open-ended fields for landings and loitering. The melody lines that the group unveils in abundance seem to span out like snaking limbs, gangly and sensuously strewn. They're everywhere and they're moving and wriggling in perfect rhythm. One gets a sense that all of the feelings that seem to be expressed in the band's songs have some kinship to the natural lay of some lush land that never sees too much heat, never gets too cold and is as green as April and May all of the time. We're left in amazement at how much we're thinking when we're just reacting to the music they produce with a felt-like touch and words that mean absolutely nothing to us. What, we're left to ask, goes so wrong when we listen to songs where we understand every word that's sung, hear ever nuance of the music accompanying it and are left feeling absolutely nothing, void or any kind of electricity? It makes hollowness and clanging echoes. With Dungen, it's the exact opposite, where we're encouraged to feel a brand of melancholy that typically finds men longing for it, not loathing it. It's the kind of melancholy that people erect statues to, that people feel closer to than a spell of elation or a bout of jubilation, both of which tend to trail off like a mistake. The band sneaks in sounds and dimensions of which we're only able to feel - a few drawn out seconds of what sounds to be air escaping a balloon or a tea kettle, the shimmering waves of apprehension, impressions of fleeting significance that all amount to a lot of daydreaming and humming.
Dungen Official Site