Stockholm-based psych-rockers Dungen released their eighth album, Häxan, as a limited Record Store Day Black Friday release last year, and then made it available more widely in February. Actually recorded between their 2010 album Skit i allt and their 2015 release Allas Sak, the record is an instrumental soundtrack scoring Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the first full-length animated feature film. The band recently toured the US playing the album as a live score to the film at most of their shows on the tour. Their sold out stop at DC9, however, wasn’t among those performances, and instead consisted of the band playing a selection of songs from throughout their career.
Dungen sounds like a throwback to some of the 1970’s most radical psychedelic pop, their music showing a direct lineage to bands like Traffic, Amon Düül II, and Can. Singing entirely in Swedish, the band has made few concessions to try to break into the American market, yet they have still managed to find a devoted following here. Frontman Gustav Ejstes spent most of this show behind his keyboards, but stood from time to time to play the flute or to dance maniacally around the stage shaking a tambourine. Along with guitarist Reine Fiske, bassists Mattias Gustavsson, and drummer Johan Holmegard, Ejstes led the audience on an hour-and-a-half long psychedelic expedition.
When Dungen plays live, it’s often hard to tell where the songs end and the improv begins, as the quartet has developed their sound and their instincts to the point where the transitions between the two are seamless. Together, they served to take their listeners on a far out, trippy journey.