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Music / Philemon Arthur and the Dung

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The only known photograph of PA&TD. (Maybe.)
Philemon Arthur and the Dung is a mysterious Swedish folk group that attained nationwide cult status way back in the '70s after their first album received an award for "Best Group Production" at the 1972 "Grammis" (Swedish equivalent to the Grammys) award show. The fact that a "no-name group" utilizing an absolute minimum of studio equipment were able to compete with established artists stirred such controversy that the award show was cancelled for over a decade. The group declined to appear at the award ceremony itself, instead forwarding a tape containing their award speech, to be played on-stage.
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Indeed, the identities of the group's members (ostensibly a duo, but there are some indicators this may not be the case), known only by the pseudonyms "Philemon Arthur" and "The Dung", remain unknown decades later; they resolved to keep their identities a secret to protect their unnamed hometown in the county of Scania from being hassled by media and the like. By all accounts, the only ones privy to their true identities are their record label and a select number of confidantes. This has raised numerous Epileptic Trees regarding their true identities, ranging from obscure and unlikely to strangely plausible.

As to their music itself... recorded chiefly in the living room of "Philemon Arthur", their output shifts between the bizarre and the vulgar, to the poignant and touching, with massive overlap. Subject matter is as likely to be about strange animals, hangovers and mowing the lawn as it is social and political commentary on the escalating expenditure of natural resources, hunting for sport, and sadism. Most songs are accompanied only by an out-of-tune guitar, accordion, or violin, and "The Dung" on a custom-built percussion kit of household objects.

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Discography:

  • Philemon Arthur and the Dung (1971)
  • Skisser över 1914 års badmössor (1987)
  • Musikens historia del 1 och 2 (1992)
  • Får jag spy i ditt paraply? (2002)

Tropes associated with Philemon Arthur and the Dung:

  • Attention Whore: The utter and complete antithesis of this.
  • Black Comedy: They can get really dark sometimes. How about the abusive, sadistic scoutmaster in "Scoutvisan"?
  • Corpsing: A few instances, most notably in "Vår och sommar", where the singer botches a note (even for PA&TD singing standards, as it were) and has to restart the song from the beginning (for the second time; he botched a lyric the first time). They left it in, of course.
  • Cover Version: "Waltzing Matilda". Apparently, "The Dung" learned to play the song on the accordion in school.
  • Darker and Edgier: The new songs on Får jag spy i ditt paraply?. Many of them are in a minor key, and are about alcoholism, murder, and sadism.
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  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Den siste veckan", rather chillingly. On each day of the week (beginning on Sunday), a thing vanishes from existence without explanation. Beginning with trees, and ending with... everything.
  • Double Entendre: "Låt den hänga ute" seems like an obvious penis joke, but nope! It's just a friendly admonition to hang up your laundry to dry outside in the sunshine.
  • Downer Ending: "Den siste veckan" is the final track on their first album.
  • Driven to Suicide: After all existence ceases, the subject of "Den siste veckan" slits his own throat with a butter knife.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Most famously, a metal heater owned by the grandmother of one of the two.
  • The Faceless: The group itself. Some album artwork incorporates photographs, purportedly of PA&TD, with faces conveniently obscured by logos or "masks" someone drew with a marker.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Musikens historia and Paraply are both presented as compilations, but in the case of the latter (which even bears the subtitle "The Very Pest of PA&TD), one half consists of the remaining songs from Skisser left off Musikens historia, alongside a batch of previously unheard songs.
  • Epic Rocking: "Den siste veckan", at 6:21.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: "Hedersmannen" and "Djurvännen" are both about an overly zealous hunter who justifies his excess hunting as "helping nature live".
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Missan spinner" is... 21 seconds of a cat purring.
  • Gratuitous English: "Goodbye" is entirely in English. "Waltzing Matilda" too.
  • Green Aesop: "Stanna där ni är", "Den siste veckan" (maybe).
  • Hangover Sensitivity: "Jag mår så illa".
  • Instrumentals: "Antiloop -68" is a LOUD tape loop of percussive noises, most notably a beer bottle.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Den siste veckan" ends with the last notes being looped and increasingly slowed down until the distortion reaches "Cthulhu snoring" levels.
  • Looped Lyrics: Constantly, most infamously the "backing vocals" of "In kommer Gösta".
  • Miniscule Rocking: A fair number of their songs don't even make it past the one-minute mark.
  • Mondegreen: Low fidelity audio quality mixed with a Scania dialect will do that. Just as well the the liner notes provides the actual lyrics, huh?
  • Money Song: "Ingenting i din hjärna". Well, mostly a general "success song", but it's part of it.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Their exact style is difficult to pigeonhole to say the least. Compound descriptors like "minimalist lo-fi avant-/anti-folk" goes a way in describing it but even that doesn't do the job fully.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The rule rather than the exception.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Whenever they speak English. Who is to know whether their accents are just that bad, or if they're having a laugh, though?
  • One-Hit Wonder: While not a chart hit as such, "In kommer Gösta" is by far their most well-known work.
  • The Power of Friendship: "Du är min enda vän".
  • Shotgun Wedding: "Ödesvalsen" gives off this vibe.
  • Shout-Out: On the receiving end of one from fellow Scandinavians Kaizers Orchestra in the form of a song's title (the song also contains lyrical references to "In kommer Gösta"). The reason for this remains undisclosed... though it is certainly possible that PA&TD might have been an early musical influence on band members Janove Ottesen and Geir Zahl, whose early musical offerings share a suspicious amount of similarities with PA&TD's body of work.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Well, by all accounts the artists themselves are children, or at the very least adolescents, but "Djurvisa för barn", what with its title, seems like it'd fit. There's also a few other humorous songs about animals such as dromedaries, dogs, and pigs.
  • Reclusive Artist: Let's just say "yes" and leave it at that.
  • Red Herring: The black and white cover of their first album (and first compilation album) one would assume to be of the group members as children, but nope! It's cover art designer Martin Kann and some other kid, for some reason.
  • Studio Chatter: Well, the music technically wasn't recorded in a studio, but rather Philemon Arthur's home. But yes, it occurs quite a bit. This ranges from somewhat insightful behind-the-scenes commentary to random yelling and noises.
    "Today's the 13th of March, and we've just written a new song in 23 minutes. It's ready now, so hold on to your keisters, and receive."
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: Butts appear in song lyrics here and there.
  • Take That, Audience!: One way to interpret "Varför lyssnar du"... seems to be all in good fun, though.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: More than often the "three chords" bit is entirely literal. And three ofttimes appears to be too many...
  • Throw It In!: Retakes are obviously not their prime concern. Frequently, someone plays a wrong chord, misses a beat, or just breaks down laughing.
  • Trolling Creator: Big time. Whenever they give an official statement or whatever (which happens once in a blue moon) you can't ever trust what they say. We can't even know for sure what little information we have on them is true.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Yeah, a lot. But that's hardly the point, is it?
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Some, which is to say nearly all, of their lyrics just plain don't make sense... drugs will not help in this instance.
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