The immediate reaction to this record is that the precision and musicianship of the players is damn-near detrimental. Most songs on Tio Bitar sound like a mathematical calculation of what exactly a Dungen song should be.
And the precision ... these guys play with jazz-like proficiency. Guitarist Reine Fiske could just as easily be spouting off note-for-note Hendrix solos from memory and the difference would be unnoticeable. The songs here seem to go on longer than before, but it's really that there's less vocals.
What propels Tio Bitar is the slight change it offers from previous Dungen efforts. Songs like "Caroline Visar Vagen" have unobtrusive Nordic string arrangements that provide a bit of structure to the band's oftentimes loose and freeform feel. Meanwhile, the biting fuzzbox sting on "Intro" and "Mon Amour" beefs up otherwise lacking arrangements while the rationed wah-wah use is a welcome variation.
But overall, Tio Bitar feels like background music an album that doesn't exactly hold your attention. Laconic instrumental passages overtake the memorable moments. But that could be the band's purpose here. Dungen has created yet another quintessential modern psychedelic touchstone that no one else is doing any better.
Ben Blackwell writes about music for Metro Times . Send comments to [email protected].