Dungen / Prins Thomas

Häxan (Versions by Prins Thomas)

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Häxan (Versions by Prins Thomas) Review

by Paul Simpson

Norwegian space disco producer Prins Thomas has long been an admirer of the Swedish psych-rock band Dungen, and described the opportunity to remix their music as a dream come true. Of all the Dungen albums to remix, their score for the 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed seems like it might be an odd choice, especially since it's not quite as energetic or explosive as their albums generally are. Then again, its moodiness might make it prime for different types of late-night sonic exploration other than making club-friendly edits. Using nothing but the original source material, Thomas re-arranged a handful of tracks from Dungen's Häxan album, ending up with over an hour of reworked material. Thomas insists that "this is not a Dungen album," but he could just as easily say that it isn't a Prins Thomas album either. Instead, these lengthy, stretched-out pieces become something different altogether, retaining the dark, mysterious vibe of the originals but venturing further out into space than Dungen could've anticipated. Rather than attempting to make upbeat disco tracks out of the original source material, he lets them unfold at their natural paces, focusing on their hypnotic qualities and drawing them out, looping and building them until they gradually become vast, billowing epics. The album's first half moves very slowly, with sparse, drifting guitars and softly flickering drums, as well as time-stretched pianos during "Aladdin Och Lampan (Version 1)." Tracks like "Kalifen (Version)" bring to mind the melancholy beauty of Air's Virgin Suicides soundtrack, but fleshed out beyond the constraints of individual film scenes. The rhythms start to pick up during the album's second half, with heavier, more entrancing rhythms reminiscent of Krautrock, particularly during both versions of "Achmed Flyger." "Trollkarlen Och Fågeldräkten" is jazzier and more complex, and Thomas' second interpretation of the track is a bit more groove-oriented; its thumping beats, bongos, and swirling synths are as close as the album gets to the dancefloor. While sacrificing none of the character of Dungen's original album, Prins Thomas has managed to expand on its most adventurous qualities, and arguably produced a more breathtaking album.

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