Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Dungen, Tio Bitar

Dude! Dungen!  Sounds like Dungeon, right?  and Bitar!  sounds like bitter!  and it’s some kind of Swedish or Norwegian, or something.  Those dudes do righteous metal, man.  This has dungengot to be heavy, man, the CD’s black!  Put it on . . . .  Dude!  It opens with sirens, heavy guitar, driving drums.  What’d I tell you?  Metal, man!  I’m-14-and-don’t-get-it, mommie-doesn’t-love-me-enough, satan-will-eat-your-children metal!

uhhh, no.

Tio Bitar is Swedish for Ten Pieces (refering to the ten tracks on the album) and Dungen is Swedish for Grove –  a bit too pastoral for death and destruction fantasies.  The guitar fueled roar that opens the CD resolves into a modal vamp with a repeating flute riff.  Dungen plays a completely unique blend of psychedelic and prog rock, with strong folk and lighter classical influences.  A number of reviews claim that the folk in question is Swedish in origin but never having heard Swedish folk music, I wouldn’t know.  All of this is held together by singer and songwriter Gustav Ejstes very strong melodic sense and marked ability to take multiple influences and, at times, familiar riffs, and combine them in ways that both suggest music you’ve heard before and open up new and usually interesting vistas. 

Ejstes not only sings and writes, he produced and recorded the album and plays most of the instruments.  He got into hip-hop, became infatuated with sampling and came to the conclusion that the proper thing to do was to be able to play all the instruments he was sampling.  Yeah, right.  Well, this seemed like a plausible idea to Esjes so he retreated to a small farm owned by his mother and proceeded to learn to play all the instruments he had been sampling.  Other musicians sit in here and there on Tio Bitar and when Dungen tours they play as a four-piece but Ejstes plays most of the instruments on the album.  He sounds like a pretty remarkable guy.

One of the more remarkable things about Tio Bitar is that it doesn’t sound like a vanity project.  The music is rich and varied and sounds more like an exploration of some of the many possibilites that exist in the place where prog and acid rock meets folk music than like a guy with more ego than talent doing his two or three tricks over and over again.  It also doesn’t have the bombast and pretension that often comes along with prog rock.  At least musically it doesn’t.  The vocals are in Swedish (I would guess) and I have no idea what Ejstes is singing about. 

The album is not badly recorded but it’s not well recorded either which is too bad because the sonic palette and instrumentation used on the album would be better served by a state-of-the-art recording.  Tio Bitar would sound much better with an enhanced dynamic range, a deeper and wider soundscape and more fully realized highs and lows.  It’s too flat and congested.

Overall, Tio Bitar is an interesting album that will likely have the most appeal for fans of psychedelic or prog rock that won’t be put off by melding those forms with elements of folk music.

Music from this CD can be heard on Tuned In To Music Podcast 013 – Music Without Words

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09/12/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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