Wild Mercury Sound

Dungen, Wigwam and Robert Wyatt on the horizon

John Mulvey

For some reason, I've been struggling to write about the new Dungen album for a few weeks now. They are, if you're in the dark, a pretty rampant Swedish psych band who had a fair bit of success with their "Ta Det Lugnt" album a couple of years ago.

The new one begins with a guitar solo, more or less, and flops around on a nice Turkish carpet for three minutes or so before a flute turns up to enjoy the vibes. It's kind of uncompromising, I guess, but the thing about Dungen is that their freak-outs are still quite poppy and accessible.

The other thing about them is that the songs on their albums - and it's probably more evident on this one, "Tio Bitar", than the last - seem to blur together into a giant rush of melodic psych. It's an engrossing trick, but maybe it's this that makes it hard to write about. "Tio Bitar" barrels along with great gusto, virtuosity and historic resonances. A faint, musty smell, mingled with patchouli, ought to come off the sleeve. It's elaborate and thrilling pop-prog, and I can't remember which tracks are the best ones.

I'm trying, though. "C Visar Vagen", I discover as I write, is the pastoral one with the added strings, where guitarist Reine Fiske takes his Hendrixy foot off the gas for a few minutes. Most of the work, I read assiduously from the press biog, was done by Gustav Ejstes. So I guess it's Ejstes who suddenly bends "Sa Blev Det Bestamt" in a distinctly Turkish direction, with what I think may be the reverberant sound of a saz. I love this stuff, as I think I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago about Voice Of The Seven Woods.

I also seem to have a thing at the moment about hippy jams from the Northernmost extremes of Europe, judging by this week's mild obsession with Wigwam (not the folktronica pioneers of a few years ago - though their "Soda Pop Rock" 12-inch is a real lost gem). Wigwam were a prog band from Finland, and I was lucky enough (though my wife and some of my colleagues would probably dispute that) to be sent a large part of their back catalogue by Love Recordings. Some of it's a bit ropey, obviously, but I do like the "Being" album very much, which sounds like an odd but harmonious mix of Soft Machine and Stevie Wonder. Which reminds me, Robert Wyatt has a new album out in the autumn. As soon as I hear something, I'll let you know.


Editor's Letter

Robert Wyatt interviewed: "I'm not a born rebel..."

Today (January 28, 2015), social media reliably informs me that Robert Wyatt is 70, which seems a reasonable justification for reposting this long and, I hope, interesting transcript of an interview I did with him at home in Louth back in 2007, a little before the marvellous “Comicopera” was...