Life on Earth!

Look! There Is

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Life on Earth! is Dungen's Mattias Gustavsson's solo project and Look!! There Is Life on Earth! is his first album -- and what an impressive debut it is. On his own, Gustavsson retains Dungen's psychedelic vibe, while stripping off the rock ethos and the high-density collage action. What remains after that shift is a sunny-side-up form of psychedelic songwriting, a cross between the lightness of Scandinavian melodies and U.S. West Coast vocal harmonies. The perfect companion for a road trip on a hot summer day, Look!! There Is Life on Earth! features instantly likable hooks, intricate arrangements, and pervasive sonic experiments, all presented without a care in the world. The album begins with a stunning spell of flute strongly reminiscent of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, before kicking off into a memorable psychedelic song so true to form it stands right on the verge of pastiche. Beatles influences pop up everywhere on the album, along with strong elements of early Pink Floyd ("Right in Between") and King Crimson ("You Are There," maybe closer to the proto-KC Giles, Giles & Fripp). After the album proper, there is a half-hour uncredited piece of experimental music, mostly Tibetan bowls and bells over a heartbeat -- an interesting coda, but a drastic change in mood and approach. Luckily, it's easy to skip if you don't feel like changing mental gears. Appearances from Mia Doi Todd and members of Dungen, the Works, and Town and Country add a few surprises, but don't get this album because of the guest list; get it because it is a nearly perfect modern summertime psychedelic pop opus.

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