Last year my #1 top favorite album was Allas Sak by proggy Swedish psychrockers Dungen. As I prattled on at some length about it then, I’ll direct you now to that earlier post from 2015 if you are interested, but let me add that I still play this album all the time. As in all the time all the time. It’s just that good. Whenever you hear someone lamenting that they “don’t make ‘em like that anymore” sit ‘em down, stick a joint in their mouth, slap some headphones on ‘em and then play them Allas Sak and watch them convert. They do still make ‘em like that.
Before that album was even released apparently there was already another full-length Dungen project in the can, their all-instrumental original score to German director Lotte Reiniger’s early animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed from 1926.
The Adventures of Prince Achmed, based on an Arabian Nights fable by way of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, took three years to make, and was animated with a unique silhouette “shadow show” animation technique Reiniger herself had invented using cardboard cutouts and thin sheets of lead placed under a camera. Reiniger’s original musical collaborator was German composer Wolfgang Zeller who wrote his score to match the onscreen action and “photograms” were created for orchestras to follow along with. Although all known German nitrate masters of the film had basically disintegrated, it was painstakingly restored by German and British technicians in the late 1990s using the Desmetcolor process and has become well known to modern day cinema buffs.
Dungen’s re-imagined score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed—released by Mexican Summer later this month (Novermber 25th, this year’s “Black Friday” Record Store Day, to be exact) as Häxan (“The Witch”) is a bubbling caldron of everything great about the Dungen sound, but even more dramatic, mystical and moody. Freer. More extreme. The sound of the album varies a lot, but the flute and Mellotron brings to mind Moody Blues or Focus in the prettier moments, and in the harder-rocking sections Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song” and even riff-heavy Sabbath-influenced stoner rock. As I type this, I’ve only listened to it once all the way through, but I fully expect I’ll be playing Dungen’s mighty Häxan longplayer as much as I played its glorious predecessor.
Continues after the jump…