It's unbelievable to me that until a month ago, I hadn't listened to any Dungen beyond "Satt Att Se" from their last album, 4. Sure, Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes had the album cover of Ta Det Lugnt up as his profile picture when he was still on Twitter. But, I guess I missed all his tweets about the awesomeness that is Dungen. Thankfully, through cosmic intervention, Dungen's 4 found its way into my possession, and I decided to grab tickets to their show at The Bell House.
Mind-numbing lineups like Fleet Foxes/Dungen or the one for the Kemado/Mexican Summer Festival (though I could do without metal band Saviours) were unfortunately not in the cards for NYC, but the Dungen show at The Bell House had a power combination of its own with Brooklyn favorites Woods and Ducktails. Set times were pushed back, most likely so that Animal Collective attendees could walk a few avenues over after the show and enjoy Dungen at a discounted ticket price. Props to those who did that. I think I'm getting too old to do double features like that anymore, especially with the summer heat.
By the time Dungen hit the stage, the venue seemed comfortably packed, at least from where I was standing. Dungen treated the audience to over an hour and a half of incredible music. Maybe it's because I can't understand their Swedish lyrics, but I found myself paying more attention to the musical components and how they fit together like a puzzle to create shape and texture. In fact, Dungen's music is like a perfect banh mi sandwich. Both are made of essential ingredients, ones that are pretty good on their own. Every element is crucial to the equation. Like there are no filler parts in a banh mi sandwich, every note of a Dungen song, regardless of instrument, is deliberate and necessary. I have yet to find a perfect banh mi sandwich, one with such a construction that allows for each bite to have the ultimate balance of all parts as pictured here (Banh mi eaters, you should know what I'm talking about). But, I'm convinced that Dungen would be the auditory equivalent. Even without a violinist, Dungen played "Satt Att Se" so beautifully that I could hardly believe that I was witnessing it. The way the vocals fit in with the instrumentals, veering from minor to major keys and back to minor, it almost seemed like a musical pun. And, nothing excites me more than brilliant song compositions.
Although the guitarist was near collapse, Dungen came out for an encore. The entire band was very gracious to their audience, and frontman Gustav gave an extended shoutout to the folks at Kemado Records, Dungen's U.S. label who also produces a beautiful vinyl press of 4. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of those at the merch table.
Dungen is currently on tour in North America. Click here for dates. Be sure to pick up the tour-only limited edition 12" of the 15-minute version of "Samtidigt."
Jeremy of Woods
Det Tar Tid - Dungen
Satt Att Se - Dungen