Black Friday Review: Dungen

The Black Friday weekend is over. Whether you ran with the crowds, drifted on the outskirts, or stayed at home at ate Thanksgiving left overs, you can say that this weekend happened. And if you had elected to stay away from all things retail, then let me tell you that there are still some goodies to be had after the madness. One of those gems is Dungen‘s Haxan. On this record, the Swedish psych group reimagines the score to the seminal animated film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed–dosing its classical overtures with 60s fuzz and proggy builds.

The silent film was created in 1928 and is considerd the oldest surviving feature length animated film. Silhouette animation gives it a sultry and nuanced film. The film still carries with it an energy that is palpable. That said, Dungen’s reimagining of the soundtrack moves away from a strict adherence to its narrative, allowing the Swedish band to work in odd associations and musical drifts. Dungen is able to take the raw material of the score and weird it a bit through their leads and rhythms.

Dungen’s reworking of they score amps up the film’s energy. The group stays faithful to the notes and scale of The Adventures of Prince Achmed‘s soundtrack while adding their own psychedelic flavor. One of the most apparent flavorings of the score is on the fifth track of the album, “Trollkarlen och fågeldräkten” (translated: The Wizard and The Bird Suit). Fuzzy bass lines and squealing leads wash over a detuning piano to create an absolutely dark and sinister soundscape.

 

That said, not all of the songs bubble to a noise-ridden psychedelic fever pitch. The second song of Dungen’s score, “Jakten genom skogen” (The Chase Through The Woods), is a lighter reworking of the original track. Airy and bright, “Jakten genom skogen” shows the another side of Dungen–a face that can work with soaring textures to create more classically beautiful atmospheres.

This is partially the strength of Dungen’s remastering of The Adventures of Prince Achmed‘s soundtrack: the ability to shift through styles and tones to weave a veritable tapestry of sonic textures. From start to finish, you hear garage psych, piano jazz, orchestral brooding, folky minimalism, rock, and so many other styles colliding into each other for a genre smorgasbord.

This reworked soundtrack is on par with Xiu Xiu’s reimagining of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Noisy and psychedelic, Dungen’s Haxan is sure to please fans of Black Sabbathy distortion, swift-footed jazz, and foreboding sonic atmospheres. Ending apply “Andarnas Krig” (Spirit War), Haxan concludes as it started–with soul-shaking psychedelia that is as heavy as any metal album and as jazzy as The People’s Liberation Big Band, making it perfect for the coming of winter.

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