Dungen & Woods - Myths 003 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Dungen & Woods - Myths 003

by Kyle Kersey Rating:7 Release Date:2018-03-16
Dungen & Woods - Myths 003
Dungen & Woods - Myths 003

This isn’t the first time these two paths have crossed. Just under ten years ago, Brooklyn indie folk pioneers Woods were merely the opening act of Dungen’s American tour, one which saw the group share performance time with a fresh-faced Robin Pecknold and Josh Tillman (now Father John Misty) of Fleet Foxes in Seattle. In the intervening years, Woods has grown to become one of the most popular freak-folk acts around, while Dungen seems to be chasing the ghost of Ta det lungt, their most critically successful album to date, as well as a staple of the Swedish psych scene.

More recently, the directions of each respective band juxtapose one another. Two years ago, Dungen released their eighth full length album; an experimental instrumental pseudo-soundtrack album aiming to score the 1926 German film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, considered to be the oldest surviving animated film. A year later, Jeremy Earl and friends dropped their cheesiest, most derivative work to date in Love is Love; a wide-eyed hippie cliché showcasing the ideals of love and acceptance in the time of Trump, and featuring an album cover that looked straight out of Microsoft Paint. To be frank, it was a low point from the group, following the band’s successful sonic shift that saw the band dramatically alter their sound on City Sun Eater in the River of Light. It was an album which signaled the complete abandonment of the band’s trademark bleak freak folk sound of past projects like Songs of Shame and moved them in funkier, hook-laden directions. Perhaps this dramatic stylistic shift could be attributed to the departure of long time bassist and collaborator Kevin Morby, who went on to release on of the year’s best works of indie-folk on City Music.

Myths 003 opens with a Celtic tinged bit of neo-psychedelia on “Loop”, before moving into the project’s lead single and crown jewel, “Turn Around”. The western fueled freak folk tune would fit snugly onto some of Woods’ prior releases like Bend Beyond or With Light and With Love. Perhaps most importantly, it's a moment of reassurance, where Jeremy Early calms our concerns with his light falsetto vocals and mesmerizing instrumental arrangement.

However, as far as tangible moments go, this is about as good as Myths 003 gets. The seven track, thirty-one minute release plays as a glorified EP; one that lacks focus and cohesion between the mutual ideas of the two bands. Dungen also doesn’t exactly compliment Woods’ best qualities. Woods are really at their best when their writing is focused and less so when they give into underwritten indulgences. Often times, their jams devolve into either messy playing on their earlier, lo-fi records such as Songs of Shame, or in previous releases, sterile, uninteresting musical sequences. It’s in this sense where Myths 003 falls flat, as Dungen’s instrumental ideas are somewhat dependent upon the jam. It’s a vital element to the band’s experimental performance and unpredictability, their latest soundtrack release notwithstanding. It’s the clashing of two worlds and, as such, the album feels like two bands fighting for control of the creative direction.

Much of the album is instrumental as well, which means that a majority of the tracks have more Dungen influence. This isn’t a good or a bad quality, but it’s certainly something to note if you’re going into this expecting a display of Woods’ songwriting chops. These feel less like fully fleshed out songs and more like two groups noodling around in a studio over solid rhythmic foundations. It's clear that this is the product of a week in a studio, not a drawn out collaborative writing process.

That being said, Myths 003 is enjoyable noodling, if only on a surface level. For Woods fans, it’s a reassurance that the band hasn’t completely abandoned their psychedelic roots, and for Dungen fans, it’s some more material to sink your teeth into while you wait for their next release. Taken as a novelty, Myths 003 is a fun, hypnotic stocking stuffer (see “Marfa Sunset” and “Just For The Taste”). Just don’t expect something groundbreaking or essential in the wider context of either band’s discography.

 

 

 

 

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