With the third installment in their annual “Myths” series – a joint effort with the Marfa Myths festival in Texas – indie label Mexican Summer has finally realized the potential of the series’ concept. Putting two likeminded artists together in the desert conjures romantic visions of brilliant spontaneous creation, but the real-life nature of collaboration is much too fickle to function in that way, and with the first two Myths EPs the results didn’t quite stack up to each artist’s individual catalogue. Recruiting Swedish psych/prog outfit Dungen and Brooklyn genre-defiers Woods for this go around, though, has produced a markedly different result.
The two bands (well technically two members from each band) gel relatively seamlessly across Myths 003’s seven tracks, the needle gradually fluctuating back and forth between each group’s particular approach. Dungen tone down their more freewheeling or bombastic impulses on cuts like “Marfa Sunset” and the closing “Just For the Taste” while still finding the moments to bring Woods out to space with them as they do on the stellar penultimate cut “Saint George”, a simple jam that builds in intensity over the course of its 6 minute runtime into a crashing bass and drums fade-out.
While the instrumental tracks, composed together in Marfa, show these musicians applying their sensibilities to create something new, the two proper songs that ground 003, “Turn Around” and “Jag Ville Va Kvar,” show the band’s complimenting and elevating each other’s sounds. The former is an unmistakably Woods-ian tune carried by Jeremy Earle’s falsetto, but accented with hallucinatory piano and guitar lines, while the latter features a groovier rhythm section than is typical for a Dungen track joining the airy synths and floating melody to send the song drifting into the desert haze.
Occasionally one does get the sense that Woods and Dungen could have used another week together to smooth out some of the rougher edges of the project. While some of the instrumentals function as complete works, others begin to explore ideas but don’t fully flesh them out, but this also goes to show how fertile this collaboration is. With just a week together (plus the time the two bands spent touring together back in 2009) they developed an undeniable chemistry and have crafted a solid record of loose psychedelic rock that’s far from a throwaway. While it is probably unlikely this unit will produce more music, Myths 003 stands as a testament to why they should.