MP3: Woods – The Number from Songs of Shame (2009)
Woods were a bit of an unknown quantity for me. Going into this show, I had heard little from this Brooklyn quartet. Coming out of their set, I wanted to hear everything they had.
They delivered a perfectly bewildered pop vision that I never knew I wanted, but in fact, depserately needed. The vocal melodies are sun-drenched, but with the heavy modulation, the harmonic interplay becomes something much more interesting. Combined with the often burnt out psych meanderings, the product is mysterious and foreign, yet oddly comforting and familiar, like a hazy recollection of a previous life. Their sound tends to be a bit repetitive, but strangely never grows stale or old. Probably a testament to the ever-captivating sight of their resident sound manipulator crawling around on all fours tweaking the knobs and tape-loops while tossing his tousled and mangled mass of hair back and forth singing through headphones modded to act as a mic. An eerie vision calling to my mind a possessed cousin of the muppet Mahna Mahna.
Dungen are one of those unique musical entities that lives far longer in, and has far greater impact on, the consciousness of musicians than the public writ large, something owed to the evolution of their sound. The Swedes’ musical origins are often described as psychedelic pop, and that is certainly evident in their smoldering breakdowns. But they have evolved into something beyond these humble origins. They manage to subtly toe the line between broad stroke atmospherics and technical wizardry. While often very catchy, their loungey, jazz-fusion sound and laid-back approach turns off many to the intricacies and wonder of their compositions.
Unfortunately, some of their live set suffered momentum sapping from their mellower numbers. I can pin this squarely on the overly technical, dispassionate feel of a number of their songs when performed live. Instead of channeling the power of the many genres they blend, they often carved a much more sterile fascimilie. Where recorded, many of these compositions feel like sprawling and expansive tracts full of ideas, live they rang hollow, a little too laid-back bordering on the dreaded segments of adult contemporary and smooth jazz. Hardly the crossroads where an electric live performance lies.
Thankfully, these moments were in the minority. Set highlights like “Gor Det Nu” and “Panda” landed with alacrity, sweeping you away with tight compositions of rapid-fire bass, galloping drums, epic guitar and some of the most honeyed melodies you ever have the fortune to get drizzled into your ear.