Allas Sak

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After almost 15 years of releasing gloriously expansive and tripped-out psychedelic jams, Gustav Ejstes and his band Dungen show no signs of flagging on their seventh full-length, Allas Sak. After a break of five years, the album finds them stretching their sound in new, more measured and arranged ways. Ejstes adds loads of piano (both acoustic and electric), many mellifluous flute solos, and Mellotron, all of which coat the songs in a soft-focus haze. Even the more rocked-out songs that feature Reine Fiske's reliably fierce and flowing soloing have a more laid-back, almost narcoleptic feel. He really lets loose on only a couple of songs, notably the flaming "En Dag På Sjön" and loping prog jam "Franks Kaktus." It's not too far from the approach the band took on its previous album, Skit I Allt, which had a distinct focus on songwriting. Tracks like the folky "Sista Festen," the very catchy title track, and the dreamy Beach-Boys-in-space "Åkt Dit" have big melodies that give Ejstes a chance to show off his underrated vocals, and even the instrumental songs have subtle hooks and a sunny brightness, making the record an easy pill to swallow. When they indulge in some more typical sonic exploration, like on the album-ending "Sova," the expanded instrumentation and layered production really help to keep things light and interesting. Allas Sak is another step in the right direction for Dungen, one that shows them continuing to grow and seek out new ways to deliver their brand of psychedelia. They've kept the spirit of their early, free-flowing freak-out days, while continuing to apply more structure and care to their arrangements. It's a best-of-both-worlds situation that should make fans of their early work happy and appeal to people who may be discovering them for the first time. Dungen have been doing the psych thing for quite a while, long before bands like Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra even knew what a phase shifter was. Allas Sak proves that they are still as good as ever, if not better, and can still teach those who have followed in their wake a thing or two about crafting a satisfying album.

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