For well over a decade now, Swedish psych rockers Dungen have been turning out increasingly impressive explorations of the form, pushing beyond the requisite genre trappings to create a style and sound entirely their own. While decidedly rooted in the halcyon days of psychedelia, relying heavily on swirling guitars, woozy melodies (all of which here are in their native tongue) and Eastern flourishes on a host of instruments, Dungen continually manages to transcend expectations.

When they first came to prominence following 2004’s sprawling Ta Det Lugnt, they were somewhat unfairly lumped into the burgeoning psych rock renaissance originating in Iceland, Scandinavia and parts of continental Europe. While certainly an apt descriptor, their particular brand has, from the start, sought to rewrite the possibilities by removing the somewhat staid parameters within which their peers tended to operate. In this, they were a member of the club based solely on their geographic origin and not necessarily their artistic vision and creative aesthetic.

Now, after five years of silence, they return with Allas Sak. At 42 minutes, it’s a relatively concise effort in standard psych terms. But within those 42 minutes, Dungen further expand their sonic palate, bringing in still more esoteric instruments and compositional flourishes that sit somewhere between psych rock and prog, albeit lacking the latter’s artier pretensions. Still relying heavily on guitars, Dungen here have expanded their sound to include wind instruments, piano and classical touches. Call it psychedelic chamber pop.

“Sisten Gästen” offers a swirling flute and guitar unison line that sounds unlike anything (save perhaps a distorted mellotron), adding a heady layer to their already cerebral sound. Refusing to be placed within a broader musical chronology, the song’s opening sounds completely out of time, mixing elements of sound library recordings, light jazz and prog-tinged singer-songwriter fare. It’s a strange stylistic amalgamation that shouldn’t work as well as it does, given the general scorn and derision heaped on these genres individually.

But in reshaping and combining styles that might otherwise, on their own, fall flat, Dungen manage to create a sound and feel wholly their own. In addition to their instrumental explorations, Allas Sak offers a more refined focus and greater adherence to structured compositional framework. Each piece features several well-defined sections, proceeding almost suite-like from one to the next, again a nod to their proggier leanings, but without the rambling instrumental passages that tend to bog down even the best the genre has to offer. Of the album’s 10 tracks, only two stretch beyond the five-minute mark, with everything else clocking in at nearly half that. And of these, the sprawling prog/fusion workout “Franks Kaktus” is the most compelling. With its flute-led melody, atypical instrumentation and Eastern melodicism, it shows the group continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary psych music by building on their predecessors’ fascination with non-Western ideas.

At the center of their swirling brand of psychedelia is the majestic guitar freakout “En Dag På Sjön.” Clocking in at just over four minutes, it allows for a complete and total guitar workout replete with hammering feedback, sustained squeals and gorgeously searing fretwork. Proving themselves not to have entirely abandoned the hallmarks of psych rock, “En Dag På Sjön” offers more than enough to sate the diehards while still pushing the form forward in new and interesting ways.

Similarly, “En Gång Om Året” builds from a stately piano ballad into a cinematically majestic bit of post-rock. Here they rely on yet another soaring guitar figure and tumbling drums to propel the song forward. Maintaining elements of the more restrained instrumental flourishes present earlier in the album, they temper these with a more traditionally recognizable psych rock approach resulting in a transcendent outro that ends far too soon. As the guitars rise and swell amidst the clattering drums, the listener becomes fully immersed, temporarily transported from their mundane day-to-day, swept up in the triumphant melody. It’s a head trip for those who prefer the aural route.

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