05 August 2017, Pendarvis Farm, Portland, OR
[NO TICKET STUB]
I remember Dungen playing the Häxan album (in its entirety) being the highlight of Pickathon 2017 for me. Now before you go and start giving me reasons why I should have said Dinosaur Jr. or Tank and the Bangas or even Priests, one of my favorite bands probably ever, you must know the context:
I absolutely love Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii concert. Not for the song selection, the gravity of how they were able to play a concert at such a sacred monument, or because they all look young, have long hair, and are basically in their prime. Rather, I love the concert because hearing songs like Echoes and Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun played live and in excellent soundboard quality is nothing but awesome. It is because it was pure fucking rock and roll set on fire and then blasted out with laser beam cannons. If you’ve watched the Live at Pompeii DVD or even just heard the soundtrack and also heard Dungen’s Häxan, you’ll immediately know why I am drawing parallels between the two. There is a similar feeling, sound, and instrumentation to it all — a sort of sounds-flowing-in-open-air sound. I imagine Live at Pompeii is playing in one room and in the next is Häxan – merely separated by a thin wall – both playing alongside each other. I think of it like Grateful Dead’s Dark Star and how it was said it is always playing somewhere:
“Dark Star is always playing somewhere. All we do is tap into it.” -Phil Lesh
I feel I can be listening to Live at Pompeii, turn a knob slightly to bend the tape in such a way that I could tune in to some secret track titled Häxan.
That beginning tick-tick-tick in the first few seconds of the opening track Peri Banu vid sjön is, if anything, the most subtle heartbeat of the world. Or it could be what floating through empty space in an empty capsule drifting further from life sounds like. It’s like the echo from the Pompeii concert finally rebounded off something and caused a reaction resulting in Häxan.
Not only did Dungen play the Häxan album in its entirety, they played it as it was meant to be played: alongside the film it is the soundtrack to:
“…On Häxan, the group presents a recent scoring of the 1926 animation classic The Adventures of Prince Achmed, replacing the original’s crackling symphonic score with fourteen interludes, rave-ups and mini-suites that nod knowingly to the past while remaining fresh.
Like most soundtracks, Häxan comes alive in context. Though marketed as a stand-alone album, it reads more as a deep psych mood board than a truly independent work. There’s an abundance of production details to get lost in, and the band sounds as vital as ever—dynamic, tight and assured. The fuzzy guitar and scraped piano strings on the title track give the feel of a genuine Morricone relic, and the gorgeous organ on “Kalifen” nods overtly to “A Whiter Shade of Pale” without feeling cheap. Recorded to and edited on tape, there’s an exquisite warmth to the entire album, with plenty of chunky, vibrant textures. Tiny details, like the trail of a spring reverb or a strikingly loud shaker panned way off in the stereo field give a sense of raw physicality, of players reacting to one another in a room.
One of the best moments comes early on, in “Wak-Wak’s Portar.” Sounding like a live bootleg from 1976, the group blurs into a monolithic, phased out wall of sound… except for the flute. Loud and in charge, it cuts across the whole mix, demanding to be heard. It’s an awesome, and funny, minute and a half, which suddenly gives way to some distant elevator music. Dungen are clearly enjoying themselves.”
-Daniel Martin-McCormick, Pitchfork
So having never seen Dungen before or knowing they made this type of album we stumbled upon them in typical music festival fashion. In the background was a large white projector screen and the stage was dark; things had not yet begun. We couldn’t see any of the band members which made it feel like things were just going wrong. All of a sudden the screen lights up and we see the beginning title of The Adventures of Prince Achmed. We all thought this would be a sort of intro to the band and things would shift over to bright stage lights. But the film and darkness persisted and so did the intimate vibe. I was astounded by how the music went perfectly with the film and how they were such a tight band to have the timing down and the strict time slot and rhythm. I sat there with my jaw dropped as the film unfolded and making my own assumptions as to what was going on. I watched the entire set wishing it would never end. What also made this so special was how the audience would clap alongside the events in the film; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I urge you to check out Dungen’s Häxan album. It’s something you can play while being creative, taking a walk, or driving your car.
You can get Häxan right here through Bandcamp.
No Big Bang
Pink White House
Nothing Feels Natural
Incomplete setlist information.
Tall Glass of Water
Tank and the Bangas
No setlist information.
No setlist information.
No setlist information.
Way Out Weather
Puttin’ People on the Moon
Women Without Whiskey
Surrender Under Protest
What It Means
Let There Be Rock
Dungen played the entire Häxan album alongside a screening of The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
Lost All Day
Feel the Pain
Little Fury Things
Just Like Heaven
Priests – Nothing Feels Natural via Bandcamp
Tim Darcy via Bandcamp
Tank and the Bangas via iTunes
Deer Tick via Bandcamp
Meatbodies via iTunes
Steve Gunn via iTunes
Drive-By Truckers via iTunes
Dungen – Häxan via Bandcamp
Dinosaur Jr. via Bandcamp