Sphäre Sechs Takes Flight On A Celestial Adventure With ‘Beta Pictoris’

Of all the ambient sub-genre’s, Space Ambient is without a doubt my favorite. There is something about the fusion of warm & dark drones and layers of cosmic soundscapes that I find completely captivating. Whenever I’m in the mood for such deeply atmospheric occurrences, there are a few artists that I can always count on for those undeniable sonic excursions and one of them is Sphäre Sechs. On their latest otherworldly offering, ‘Beta Pictoris’, they offer seven tracks of Exoplanet inspired modulations that are more than just a junket through deep space, but a mission through spectacular visuals told by supreme synth arrangements and articulate improvisations.

“Planetesimal Debris” commences with soothing, warm drones, like a space ship drifting through the outer reaches of a familiar solar system just before exploration begins into the realm of deep space. Cosmic soundscapes accent randomly as if vague transmissions become more distant and unclear. An accretion of synth effects begin to produce a thicker sound as the expedition boundaries become broader. I love how the jolting signals continue to play out in the background, increasing in strength but decreasing in clarity. This ten and a half minute opening journey is exactly what’s needed to create a celestial mindset for the remainder of this captivating album. “Doppler Spectroscopy” begins with an alluring drone that has a slight industrial edge to it. The spacious reverb effect really gives that feeling of floating in the depths of pitch black space, almost motionless, while random particles of space dust fly by at a blistering speed. These drones are layered so perfectly that you’ll loose track of time while lapsing into the intensity of its structure. “Seeking The Infinite” starts with a single drone and a variety of peculiar notes being played. A slight crescendo happens at various times, while the keys & pads create a cosmic sound of interstellar adventure. There is mystery and buildup in this track, as if a dark force is lurking around every corner and avoidance is creating an anxiety that continues to build until the end. “Collapsing Cloud” is my favorite track on the album as this is the point where things begin to turn dark and the drones start to sound quite menacing. As if the constant meander through space wasn’t enough, a sinister plot begins to develop as cosmogonal soundscapes establish an eerie sensation of doom and imminent catastrophic failure. The intense use of reverb continues to build an outer realm of darkness and horror and it doesn’t get much better than this. “Infrared Emission” is the longest intonation on the album at almost eleven minutes in length, and it’s an ethereal journey with alluring drones and consoling soundscapes that are extremely hypnotizing from start to finish. The sound of wind blowing is an added surprise, making this another standout performance. “Exosolar” begins with eerie effects that resonate abruptly in a horrific fashion. With piercing drones layered in a way that oscillates through the upper registers of the sound spectrum, this must be a true representation of what unexplored space must be like – creepy and desolate. The final excursion on this deep space adventure is, “Unstable Orbit”. Deranged effects place an incredible spin on the ominous drones as they continue to intensify and increase with electrifying resilience. Slight variations of synth modulations create dismal patterns of haunting fills and abrasive undertones. Whereas the album opened with warm colors, it definitely ends with a bleak performance, that is astounding nonetheless.

Sphäre Sechs continues their streak of masterful Space Ambient performances with ‘Beta Pictoris’. Although one of the most minimalistic sub-genres of the ambient community, this album epitomizes an array of soundscapes and dream-like drones to produce a celestial atmosphere that needs no words for explanation or understanding. This is an amazingly meditative album and I highly recommend it, especially for those that are seeking a hypnotic experience through sonic modulations. Click on the link below and download this fascinating album.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/beta-pictoris

Pafund Exemplifies The Old School Dungeon Synth Sound With, ‘Forbandelsen’

I consider Pafund a Jack-Of-All-Trades Dungeon Synth artists. Whether it’s the pounding rhythms of Medieval battle hymns, the sultry sounds of Renaissance era synth arrangements or gothic undertones that provide a ghastly atmospheric presence, Pafund is the quintessential composer with a firm grasp on the genre as a whole. On latest release ‘Forbandelsen’, the musical fortitude has increased to an expounding radiance that shows why Pafund is the Keeper of the Stronghold. Teaming up with Voices Of The Ainur to produce a special edition “enhanced” cassette release, the lo-fi resonation of this masterful collection of tunes sounds as authentic as ever and is sure to take the listener back in time, on a journey of pugnacious quarrels and darkened skies.

Album opener, “Gammel Trolddom I” begins with an excerpt that literally sounds like someone is being thrown into the depths of an ancient dungeon. Suddenly, majestic keys begin to flow and attune to a melodic pattern that depicts an intense and austere disposition. Layers of haunting synths and background attenuations begin to conform to the bleakness of Medieval skies and the transformation to dark ancient times seem almost complete. “En Søgen Efter Ære” commences with a soothing string arrangement before bursting into a battle-like composition, complete with balanced percussion and layers of synth effects that encourage triumph and victory. Next up is the enchanting narrative, “Ruinernes Hvisken”. As one of the most cinematic tracks on the album, this one is overflowing with wondrous synth effects – expanding to genres beyond Dungeon Synth – while maintaining a solid foundation in Medieval-based compositions. The drums are particularly exciting, as they are upbeat throughout the track and have a strong presence in the mix. More along the lines of a forest synth track, “Visioner Af En Anden Fortid” opens with alluring keyboard affects and an ethereal backing synth that provides a solid foundation from start to finish. Maintaining a steady, celestial tone throughout, this track has a trance-like quality that is easy to get lost in. “Gammel Trolddom II” begins with a gloomy synth intro that builds into a bleak but tenacious intonation that has both synthwave and Neo-classical influences. It continues to build into obscurity and the drum parts seem to play a minor (but important) role this time around. “En Kamp Mod Forbandelsen” starts with a heavy drum pattern and airy synths before leading into a whimsical arrangement, showing even more of a musical diversity than ever before. After a few minutes the reverberations become more grandiose, as organ effects begin to play in unison with the mischievous keys. The track ends with a barrage of percussive patterns before finally falling silent. The final track on this ceremonious album is, “Hvor Klipperne Møder Havet”. Consisting of a funereal orchestral arrangement, this is a soothing and serene way to end an album that was – at times – aggressive and intense.

I’d like to take a few minute to talk about the immaculate cassette quality of this album. Released on the incredibly meticulous, Voices Of The Ainur label, this is one of the highest quality cassette releases I’ve ever seen. From the superb slip case, detail-oriented j-card, and the pro-labeled cassette with the artist name and song titles etched on it, this is as good as it gets. You’d be hard pressed to find quality like this in a cassette release – not only in the music, but with the physical material as well. It’s detail like this that makes Voices Of The Ainur stand out amongst the rest. An absolutely stunning job for this cassette and I highly recommend grabbing one of these gems as soon as they go on sale.

As for the music, ‘Forbandelsen’ is another spectacular Pafund album and I continue to be impressed as to how much effort goes into each release. Although, this is your typical lo-if Dungeon Synth recording, the production effort is by no means low quality. Everything is stellar about this album, from the writing, arrangements, instrumentation to the production and physical release elements. I highly recommend checking out ‘Forbandelsen’, so click on the links below and indulge in the cassette release as well as the digital download, you won’t regret it.

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Links:

https://pafund.bandcamp.com/album/forbandelsen

https://voicesoftheainur.bandcamp.com/album/vota-012-forbandelsen-2

Inoriand Returns With Another Winter Synth Extravaganza Aptly Titled, ‘Life Frozen’

It’s been nearly sixteen months since we’ve heard any great tunes from the Eldest Gate Records Bandcamp page. Once thriving with life, as multiple projects routinely released one amazing album after another, those monumental occasions have grown scarce as only Inoriand released a single album in 2020. However, now back from the frozen dead (for lack of a better phrase), Inoriand has returned with a Dark Ambient/Winter Synth masterpiece in a single track called, ‘Life Frozen’. Now, I’m not sure if this is a continuation of winter themed albums, like 2020’s, ‘A World Frozen’, or a bleak double-entendre for how the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the entire world – perhaps both. At any rate, this near thirty one minute long track is exceptionally written and may be one of my favorite releases under the Inoriand brand.

Although the overall theme for the album is the cold, austere atmospherics of winter, there is a particular warmness that infects this monumental track. It’s as if the harshness of winter is slowly fading and the crystallized water is beginning to thaw, paving the way for a new season. As “Life Frozen” commences with droning keys and a gentle transition between notes, there is an overall vibe of tranquility and quietness that presents the notion of the chilling landscape chronicled in this song, has been a path less traveled for the duration of the winter months. An elegant keyboard melody begins to play at around the three minute mark and remains dominant for the majority of the track. Various soundscapes and effects are also introduced, creating a hypnotizing scene of serenity. At around the ten minute mark, slightly enhanced modulations bring a darker color to the track, representing an extreme isolation from society, as the ice continues to melt at a leisurely pace. At almost the eighteen minute mark, the track shifts gears again, bringing back a version of the original keyboard melody that was so predominant at the beginning. Maintaining a constant drone in the background, this portion of the track is well composed and almost trance-like, as the listener – by this point – will have a great view of an untouched winter landscape that seemingly reaches a utopian state as each second passes. With just six minutes remaining, another slight shift occurs with the addition of haunting effects with the drones becoming a bit louder in the mix. The climax of the track (and winter) has passed and the dawn of a new season is inevitable as the album ends in majestic winter synth fashion.

I’m really pleased that Inoriand has graced us with a new album of exalted, winter synth. One of the great artists of this sub-genre, Inoriand always creates a captivating landscape of musical textures and haunting ambience and it’s so easy to get lost in the compositions that are released. ‘Life Frozen’ is the perfect example of all of these elements working together to form the ultimate platform for a dormant, wintery escape. Eldest Gate Records continues their run of releasing premium music and Inoriand is without a doubt my favorite act from the label. If you’re into winter synth with elements of dark ambience, look no further than ‘Life Frozen’. Continue to support this wonderful label & artist and click on the link below to download this superb album.

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Links:

https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com/album/life-frozen

Gavella Glan Summons Medieval Forebodings On Dungeon Synth Debut, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’

One of my favorite sites to monitor for new and upcoming releases is the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Creating some of my most cherished Dark Ambient and synth-based releases of the past few years, Joseph Mlodik has a knack for cultivating neural sounds through various projects such as Noctilucant, Sonic Oscillations and my personal favorite, House Of The Maker. Although these projects are firmly based in the realm of Dark Ambient, they each explore various audial modulations, broadening the spectrum for his magnificent releases. Earlier this year, the Noctilucant catalog (and sound scope) was aggrandized further with the release of his first-ever Dungeon Synth album, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’ under the moniker of Gavella Glan. Containing ten tracks of ambient based fantasy synth music, this album is a magnificent debut in a genre full of unlimited potential.

The ambient influences are apparent on enigmatic album opener, “The Calm Before The Storm”. There are plenty of field recordings and obscure soundscapes to propel the listener back to an ancient time, preparing them for the Medieval campaigns that lay ahead. Every so often, a dreamy synth lead will add a sense of peace and tranquility, as the sound effects continue to carry the story. Calmly leading into “Echoes Of The Past”, we’re greeted with lush vocals and synth harmonies that continue down the path of equanimity. As if that wasn’t serene enough, the soothing sounds of gentle waves crashing on a shoreline are added and maintain repose until the end of the track. The next song, “Beyond Hill And Dale”, is a relaxing, yet whimsical tune with random bits of distant laughter and a variety of instrumental effects. Although just a couple of minutes long, this is a beautiful piece that fits right in with the rest of the album. “The One Atop The Mountain” commences with a cracking fire and a soft ambient tone before fusing into a noble synth melody, suffused with layers of harmony and trance-like modulations. I love how the mild use of discordant notes change the atmosphere of this track and the spirit of this arrangement is one of my favorites on the album. “The Oxenfurt Drunk” begins with a quick narrative clip that is loud and crisp in the mix and if you’re not expecting it, you’ll probably jump at first listen. As the narration firmly belts out, “I’m here to talk about the contract”, you’ll be fully participating in the audial essence of the music that begins right after. From ambitious to whimsical, this track goes through several atmospheric changes and is a strong contender for the most cinematic track on the album. “A Story Night Of Arcane Hexes” starts with softly played synth leads and a hint of a strange commotion in the background. Key leads and haunting vocals are reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack while a multitude of dangers lay ahead as the song is filled with evil sounds, firing blasts and obscure melodies that paint a bleak scene of destruction. “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues” dabbles in the synthwave arena while staying firmly planted in the cinematic Medieval Synth genre. Elongated synth leads combined with dark, oppressive soundscapes and field recordings provide an extremely textural composition with the occasional subtlety to keep it pertinent with the rest of the album. “Child Of The Elder Blood” is a dreamy arrangement that combines pastoral synth leads and melancholic drones. It’s as if you’re having an out-of-body experience and this track is maintaining a trajectory to propel you to another plane. This is an amazing piece and another one of my favorites. “The Path Of Warriors” is more on the lines of a traditional Dungeon Synth song with lo-if synth effects, combined with soft, flowing winds and a beautiful backing synth arrangement. From chirping birds, a warrior drawing his sword to an overall peaceful setting, this is another outstanding track and is sure to gain multiple listens. The final track on the album is the epic, “The Lord Of Undvik”. At almost eleven and a half minutes Lin length, it’s the longest track on the album and the most diverse. Beginning with the usual field recordings and soundscapes, an ominous drone carries forth in the background and flows persuasively from side to side, as it fuses into layers of ghastly synth leads and battle-like soundscapes, as if a deranged outcome was suddenly bestowed upon an unlikely kingdom. This haunting track concludes with devilish laughter and dark ambient-like drones and a perplexing end to this fantastical story.

I’m so glad that the Noctilucant mastermind decided to venture out and try his hand at Dungeon Synth. Not only is it a highly impressive album, but it showcases quite a story as well. There is adventure, cinematic music, a daring mix of genres and an entertainment value that will definitely keep this album in my play list for a long time to come. I highly recommend checking out this amazing album as well as all the other incredible albums on the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Please click on the link below and download “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues “ by Gavella Glan.

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Links:

https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/a-silent-vigil-for-oncoming-plagues

Hilyard Unveils Another High-Caliber Drone Excursion With ‘Division Cycle’

There is a reason why Cryo Chamber is the premiere label for cinematic, dark ambient music, as they consistently release stellar albums on a continual basis. Even artists such as Hilyard – that release other albums independently – seem to put out his best work under the leading label in the genre. ‘Division Cycle’ is no exception and it’s slowly becoming one of my favorite Dark Ambient releases of they year. Not only does it excel in drone modulations, but the cinematic quality is stellar and creates an addictive combination of mesmerizing tunes and emotional concepts, that demands multiple listens. Whereas 2018’s ‘Furthermore’ was a masterclass in Space Ambience, ‘Division Cycle’ is an exploration into an anatomical realm of grand design.

Lead off track, “Division Cycle” is heavy on the soundscapes in the beginning while a sustainable drone slowly builds. Synth effects provide a bit of melody while the trance-like forces maintain a powerful timbre. After several minutes, the track quietly (and slowly) descends into darkness, providing a dynamic introduction to the remainder of the album. Next up is the mesmerizing, “Equal Segments”. Not only is this my favorite song on the album, it is probably my favorite Dark Ambient song of the year so far. The layers of drones are extremely thick and they are positioned in such a way that emotions can be felt from their reverberations. A couple of minutes in, synth pads create a beautiful melody that is not only captivating, but equally serene. Although this track is just over six minutes long, I wish it were about fifteen or twenty minutes in length, in order to sustain that mindless state. “Of Hatred And Wrath” is an excellent follow on track as it continues the calming nature of the previous track, but adds a bit of depth and darkness to it as well. The flow of this song is so smooth and haunting, you’ll not want it to end, as it’s inductive of an out-of-body experience. Subtle soundscapes portray an ominous escape, but the over arching theme is relaxation of the mind and spirit. “Altars Of Warflesh” commences with a malevolent drone and theme-worthy soundscapes, as mischievous activity seems perpetual. The drones grow louder and closer as if destruction is imminent, but consoling synths & pads play dismal melodies that add to this daring adventure. “Feed The Earth” is another track of consoling drones but this time complimented by ghostly vocals. There is something eerie about this track that will leave the listener in total awe and unnerved at the same time. This is probably my second favorite track on the album and I could listen to this one over and over again and feel several types of ways with each listen. “Roots And Bones” begins with maniacal field recordings and minimalistic soundscapes over quiet albeit drifting drones. It’s as if you’re floating in a field of nothingness but headed slowly to a destination of importance, however as you get closer to the end, it seems to drift further away. The power of this music speaks in volumes with the variances of emotions that are created and observed with each listen. “Heartwood Reverie” contains bleak drones that leisurely builds in layers, while providing a stable platform to transform the mental state to another dimension. This is one of the most minimalistic tracks on the album, but it’s extremely alluring and conforms to the rest of the album perfectly. “Abandoned The Ramparts” initiates with ghastly soundscapes that fade into a spacey drone with a soft water-like field recording in the background. As the field recording dissipates, the drones become more existent and remain consistently hypnotizing until the completion of the track. The final song on the album is “To The Warmth Of Pyres (feat Dronny Darko & ProtoU)” and it’s an immaculate way to close out this impeccable album. Beginning with soothing field recordings and soundscapes, layers of synths & pads start to release audial tension as an audible dreamscape begins to unfold. The superb collaboration of these artists can be felt in each elongated note as a quest for solace and darkness unravels. So adventurous, yet remaining calm and pretentious, this is such an amazing track to close out the album as it properly summarizes the approach of all of the previous tracks.

Hilyard’s second album on the Cryo Chamber label is much different from his initial offering, but it speaks in volumes of the type of artist he is. Whether it’s lighter ambient (that is mostly presented on his own Bandcamp page), Space Ambient, or the haunting drones of ‘Division Cycle’, Hilyard is a seasoned ambient artist that has the skills needed to release countless cinematic adventures. Not only is the cover of ‘Division Cycle’ a proper representation of the album, but the music contained within is some of the best Dark Ambient/Drone music released this year so far. I highly recommend checking out this album so please click on the link below and support Cryo Chamber and ‘Division Cycle’ by Hilyard.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/division-cycle

Humanfobia Fuse Dark Electronic, Dungeon Synth And Avant-Garde On The Impressive ‘Vampiresa’

As I continue my deep dive into music of the obscure, I often find myself enthralled by artists that know limitless boundaries for presenting their craft. Although there have been many instances of genre-bending throughout the years, there are still elements that I find new (and intriguing) that stops me dead in my tracks, enough to warrant my undivided attention. Humanfobia is one of those artists that combines elements of dark electronic, avant-garde, and even Dungeon Synth to create a unique universe of audial sophistication and elegance. On last year’s ‘Vampiresa’ release, six tracks of ambiguous compositions solicit an enigmatic approach to synth music that is powerful and mesmerizing.

Right from the start, “Enchanted Castle” imposes a barrage of symphonic sounds from multiple genres, combining them to form an impressive opening track. Haunting vocals are layered over hefty beats and distorted tones and as a slight tonal shift occurs, the vocals continue to tell its story almost until the final note is played. “Ataúd Solitario” begins with the tolling of a bell and a slight build up of the music. Synths play up and down a scale of notes while a rhythmic drum beat provides a polyrhythmic groove. At the same time, dreamy vocals build and contain various effects to give it a thick, layered sound. Hints of gothic undertones can be heard throughout, as this obscure piece goes through a rotational pattern with the music. “Vampiresa” is a creepy little track that contains some nice Dungeon Synth elements and haunting narrations. There is also a monstrous vocal effect in the background that is downright sinister. The drum beats in this track are pretty cool and show a modest Crypt Hop influence. “Ajos y Cruces” is another Dungeon Synth-heavy track with spacey vocals and an overall Renaissance era vibe to it. “Vampiric Ancient Transmutation” commences with heavy distortion and echo effects that get absorbed into a dark drone, while eccentric vocals begin to make their way into the mix. At the same time, backward narration samples add an alluring feel to this track that is completely devoured by a grim ambiance. The final track on the album is “Ataúd Solitario (Burial Version)”. It begins much like the original version but the drum beats and keys have been replaced with melancholic synths and eerie soundscapes. The vocal performance is still the same, which stands out in both versions of the track.

Humanfobia is a unique and talented entity that has a vision for arcane compositions and seems to feel comfortable at fusing any genre they can to produce quality synth music. ‘Vampiresa’ is a fascinating EP in quite an impressive catalog of releases that I’m still diving into from this artist. If you’re into esoteric music and albums that fuse various genres of music, then I recommend checking out ‘Vampiresa’. Click on the link below and support this artist and check out the large catalog of albums available on their bandcamp page.

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Links:

https://humanfobia-official.bandcamp.com/album/vampiresa-ep-2020

Eyre Transmissions XI – Interview With Medieval Dungeon Synth Artist, Pale Castle

If there is ever a musical venture that represents the desolation of solitude while remaining steadfast to the culture of true Medieval Dungeon Synth music, Pale Castle would fit the bill perfectly. Creating a sound that mirrors emptiness and isolation, Pale Castle excels at composing bleak arrangements that casts the listener back to an ancient time of fierce commonwealth rivalries, mystical imagery and mythical adventures, while presenting a soothing atmosphere to get lost in. I recently had the pleasure of communicating with the mastermind behind Pale Castle to gain more in-site to this amazing project and what adventures are to come.

1. First of all, welcome to the Dungeon and thank you for this interview opportunity. The name ‘Pale Castle’ is so intriguing to me because there could be so many meanings for its being. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you?

You are very welcome. This is first time I have spoken to the outside world and I thank you for the opportunity. The timing was providence as I have now finished a journey from a dark place of inspiration. 

The name is a place, the place is where I once dwelt. The castle was not always pale but now it fades. Some say it’s no longer there….I have not seen it in ages. 

The Pale Castle is where memories once grew but now fade away. Another musician I admire once said that he could “build a castle with memories just to have somewhere to go”. That is how the listener could interpret ‘Pale Castle’…as a fortress of memories.

2. The music of Pale Castle is – at times – very bleak and dismal, presenting a true Medieval perception. Was that the vision for this project?

Thank you, for that is what I sought to convey.

The vision is that of solitude and adventure. 

A personal journey that I would like to share with my listeners. It’s my path in life to seek mystery and find a higher purpose though music and the realms it brings me to. 

My photography on the Pale Castle Instagram heightens and documents this passage.

Simply put though, the vision is a tale as old as time itself. Loss, gain, death and rebirth. The songs are fragments and imprints of my torment and occasionally my joy. That is my vision, a projection of my emotions both jovial and melancholic.  

3. I really enjoy the minimalistic aspect of the compositions, especially on the S/T album. What’s your typical routine for creating and tracking a typical Pale Castle song?

Sometimes I wander the hills and valleys and there I find inspiration in the wind and the night’s sky. There, when I’m Fortunate enough, I am hit with a burst of creative energy and begin to whistle or hum a few chords and melodies. I take that energy and store it in my mind. Then, when I return to my quarters I center myself and begin to preserve it. The process varies depending on the ambiance or sound I ultimately desire to achieve. I use a few different instrument and I enjoy sketching out a kind of story with a single motif and then expanding from that as my mood commands the direction of the track. A lot of the sorcery happens in the mixing and mastering phase of an album. 

I prefer minimal arrangements as it allows for the listener to focus on the emotion of the piece. Powerful chords and melodies and can be repeated with benefit, similarly as a steady fire can warm one’s bones.

4. My favorite track from the S/T is “Wall Of Blood Crosses”. How did you amass such an ethereal sound for that track and what was the inspiration behind it?

Plenty of analog reverb and tape delay was used to get that tone. It was layered several times as well. The inspiration came from the story that the album tells. As you can see, the album has a linear narrative that is told through the song titles. “Wall Of Blood Crosses” is the part in the story when I am wandering the castle and reflecting on my history and admiring the silver crosses filled with my family’s blood going back centuries. Imagine a huge hallway lined with such talismans all sealed with lead to keep them protected. 

That is the wall of blood crosses. Thousands of talismans filled with blood in a room that is most likely no more. “What happened to the crosses?” one might ask. 

I no longer care anymore. 

5. It’s impressive how your songs can transition from ominous to harmonious on a whim. Is there a particular concept in mind for these types of arrangements?

The concept is that those are reflections of life and how things change quickly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Especially when traveling. Dungeon Synth to me was always about the idea of traveling and adventure even if only in one’s mind. 

And even in the mind the mood of one’s thoughts can change without warning. This can be an emotional spark in music when done with feeling. I like to catch my listeners off guard and so that maybe they are slightly startled and taken back if for only a split second. That is not unlike when an animal or a force of nature enters your path while wunderlusting on an otherwise clear road. 

6. Moving on to ‘Sorrowful Memories’, it still contains the dreary aspects of the S/T, but this time around there seems to be more cinematic elements. Was it a conscious decision to branch out with a grander sound the second time around?

The initial offering captured in the self titled release is all about the castle and the stories within it’s boundaries. ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ is the adventurous spirit the was freed once I was able to separate my soul from my body. On the first tape I created a cold and confined sound to illustrate the oubliette like atmosphere, in ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ I wanted to convey the feeling of traveling and discovery. So yes, it was a very conscious decision to create a more cinematic sound. The listener should feel outdoors and upon a means travel. 

7. Your songs carry a lot of background ambience that is not only soothing, but an important part of your sound. Have you ever considered doing a Dark Ambient project as well?

I have done several Dark Ambient projects over the years. My very first recordings in the late 1990s could be considered Dark Ambient. 

I was only a teenager when I started recording music, nonetheless I believe that Dark Ambient was my first inspiration for recording my own compositions. There are artifacts of these recordings and others that were produced throughout the 2000s and as recently as last year. I will not name them here but there are ways to find these projects. 

That was another life. Still, fragments remain.

8. “The Gathering Of Spirits” is one of my favorite tracks from ‘Sorrowful Memories’ as it seems to have that gothic, romanticism influence. What were some of your influences during the recording of this album and this track in particular.

When my father died in 2011 it was in our family home and many souls gathered there, myself included to witness his death. Convergences such as these are a sort of phenomenon that occur with little or no flow of information, as if to say that the spirits inform those who need to know. The spirits also gather with each other for the preparation to carry one’s essence to the land of deeper shade.

A family friend one night once witnessed an eerie green ball of energy hover over my family’s land, he and I both believe this to have been my father’s power manifested as it was right before he fell ill. After my father’s body grew cold and rigid other visitors arrived.

They brought flowers to adorn his corpse and helped wrap him in sheepskin pelts. 

Some told us that they knew not of his demise and were only guided to the estate by an urge. Others came wholeheartedly to pay their final respects. He was the sorcerer and the final track is about his death as well. As far as musical inspiration for that track I’d say that perhaps it was inspired by my memories of that fateful night.

9. Speaking of influences, let’s talk about your Dungeon Synth beginnings if we can. When did you first start listening to the genre and who were some of your favorite artists?

My first encounter with Dungeon Synth is difficult to pinpoint as I have been listening to unusual music for quite awhile and definitely heard “dungeon” like music on the odd college radio stations at night in the 1990s. 

With that said though I would say that my first introduction to traditional Dungeon Synth was though listening to Black Metal interludes from bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Noktunal Mortum, Summoning and also more avant-garde dark synth, especially Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. That project definitely had a very significant impact on my musical path. I would actually recommend that your readers listen to ‘Songs From The Inverted Womb’.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had upon listening to my favorite Dungeon Synth album for the first time which is ‘Fjelltronen‘ by Wongraven. As I recall I was laying in a pitch dark room and within the first few measures of the opening track I began to feel weightless and I drifted into a simi -conscious state of being. Throughout the rest of the album I experienced what could only be described as an “out of body experience”

After that I began to see Dungeon Synth as something very special. That was 2004. By 2005 I had began recording Dungeon Synth experimentations. Pale Castle is my first complete Dungeon Synth endeavor. 

There is a “je ne sais quoi“ about the genre that definitely matches my personality. 

Not in a dark and brooding gothic fantasy way, more akin though to my fascination with the past and of realms unfound or forgotten.

Loss, isolation, suffering, love and remembrance…those are the aspects of life that stoke the fires of the castle.

10. When did you realize that you wanted to record a Dungeon Synth album and at that time were you involved with any other non-synth based music projects?

I have been recording synthesized music since the 1990s and have been involved with a handful of black metal, ambient, experimental groups and solo projects over the last two decades, although as of 2010 I have been producing and recording only synth based ambient and Dungeon Synth. 

The idea for Pale Castle came to me in late 2019 as I began to see the future of “dark music” and it’s esthetics. The romanticism of old-school black metal, the re-discovery of what brought me solace and to be in a mental place where I felt I could give it a valiant effort. 

That is when the transformation occurred. 

I found the castle in the dark recesses of my mind. It’s with me now forever. 

And with that said, I will choose to remain quiet about those earlier recordings as I see them as part of an old life. Not that I am ashamed or not proud of my past but rather to exemplify my commitment to the future and to Pale Castle. 

11. Earlier this year you released the ‘Remember Together, Remember Forever’ cassette, which features both Pale Castle recordings. How is the cassette release doing so far and what do you think about the recent surge in cassette sales as a form of music release?

At time of this interview it is almost gone far as it’s availability on my Bandcamp merch page. 

So that is good, most importantly because that means it is being heard and shared with others and hopefully will bring some to tears, whether they be tears of joy or sadness, so long as they are not tears like those of a crocodile.

That is the goal of my music, to get a genuine emotional response, especially stimuli connected to memories and personal turmoils. 

Yes, the appreciation of the cassette tape as a collectible form of musical preservation is something that makes me smile. When the compact tape cassette was introduced in 1963 it was not yet a major competition to the vinyl LP, by the late 1970s though it was becoming a standard for music collections across the world. It remained very popular until the early 1990s when CDs, although introduced in 1982 we’re finally more affordable and the players portable enough to start the inevitable death of the cassette tape from a popular consumer prospective. That is what is endearing about cassette culture, that people choose to support artists who make tapes and collect their releases despite it being cumbersome and less convenient. I think the resurgence is also due in part by the current generation hearing about the old times of tape trading and the satisfaction of making something by hand. That is the thing about cassettes, they require just the right amount of patience to make at home but are not too expensive such as the case with vinyl and when compared to CDs, tapes are much more resilient. I have seen an uptick in compact discs as well though,albeit in other genres such as noise and ambient. To finish the subject, I will say that I think the resurgence of tape is an art in and of itself and that alone is a testament to the importance of the cassette’s existence.

12. What else is in store for Pale Castle for the remainder of 2021?

Currently I am recording new tracks for a 60 minute album titled “When Everyone Else Dies, We Won’t” Hopefully I will find the time to also design and make a few clothing items. 

Not only t-shirts, I’d like to offer some one of a kind garments and special items for my supporters. That is the beautiful part of this new golden age of independent artists, no longer do musicians and artists need the approval and favors of the gatekeepers to share their creative passions.

I plan to share many of my creations in 2021.

13. Have you ever thought about performing in a live setting or is Pale Castle strictly a studio project?

The idea of preforming Pale Castle live is something that intrigues me, it would most certainly have to be the appropriate location and setting though. An old church, a stone cellar or an actual dungeon. Short of a venue along those lines I don’t see it happening. If I were possessed to somehow play a bar or club I would probably loose my temper at the crowd and go from “dungeon synth” to “prison synth” 

No, If I were to perform it would have to be around a respectful audience in a somber atmosphere.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview. Do you have any final thoughts or words for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for the invitation and for providing me an audience so that I could share my thoughts regarding not only my music but that of the genre itself and with that I would like to say that Dungeon Synth is not a novelty genre to me and that it’s existence is very much rooted in history though various periods in human history. Growing up I often heard sounds that are not “synth” but most definitely of the “dungeon” I would like to say that Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient as musical genres are two of the most important aspects of my artistic pursuit in life and that anyone considering releasing their recordings should definitely go forth and be proud of your creations. To all artists, take personal time to be alone with your thoughts preferably in the outdoors or more importantly where you as an individual feels the most tranquil. It is within that tranquility that you will find your most genuine ideas. I could ramble for an eon but I shall save that for hopefully a later time with you as I would be interested in a video interview in the future. In closing I would like to say thanks to you again and all hailz be to TYRANNUS! thank you for your music and inspiration! You are noticed and appreciated. 

– Bless all those who keep the candles burning and the fires lit. I feel your pain and I hear your voices in the night.

-Pale Castle

Links:

https://palecastle.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/𝔭𝔞𝔩𝔢-𝔠𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔩𝔢-111304390635373

https://www.instagram.com/pale_castle/

Ambitious And Hypnotizing, Dagmar Gertot Conjures An Enrapturing Improvisational Chronicle Called ‘Os Lacrimale’

I remember my first time experiencing Scott Walker’s ‘The Drift’ album back in 2006. For those that are not familiar, Scott Walker is a singer-songwriter that had a string of avant-garde albums late in his career, which were a heretical change of pace from his pop beginnings. At any rate, ‘The Drift’ (at the time) was one of the most mesmerizing recordings I’ve ever heard, and at times, it was downright terrifying as well. Fast forward to present times, and once again I am feeling the exact emotional state with Dagmar Gertot’s debut album on Cyclic Law, ‘Os Lacrimale’. Eight tracks of vocal and instrumental improvisations that invoke a sentiment of aimless wander and endless nightmares.

The merriment begins with the portentous “Iron Cradle”. Commencing with a single, unbridled note – that seems to be a fusion of a horned and stringed instrument – the vocals suddenly belt out with an inaudible presence, but present heavy Middle Eastern influences with regards to vocal control and technique. This is improvisation at its best, as there is a particular chemistry between the instrumentation and vocalist that will certainly resonate with the audience. Next up is “Non Healing Wound” and although it slowly crescendos out of darkness, a maniacal presence will soon unfold by way of chilling stringed instruments and mesmerizing vocal effects. This one is a slow builder and finds every aspect of the arrangement coming together in a deranged harmonic variance, while the vocal performance creates a segregated instrument that stands out all on its own. “Snake Dance” starts with an operatic-like vocal performance that assembles with layers of odd harmonies. Although just over a minute long, this track packs a powerful punch and truly showcases the talent of Dagmar Gertot. “Delirious” is one of my favorite songs on the album as it is as entertaining as it is mysterious. Vocals are, once again, perfectly layered and in the background, ritualistic instrumentation sets a bleak scene that is soon filled with Oriental influences and haunting soundscapes. “Two-Headed Roe Deer” begins with crackles and hisses of vintage tape loops, while random stringed-instrument screeches and off-key piano notes create a dismal soundtrack for the vocal performance that – at times – wanders off in the distance. “Pyromaniac” emerges as an a cappella track with soft, layered vocals and an underlying track of deep grunts and growls. Without notice, various instruments play in alliance, but with different types arrangements, as if they are out of synchronization and trying to find their way to a unified sound. Toward the end, the vocal patterns become more eccentric, as if anxiously finding a rhythm to latch on to for a continued aural assault. “Nude Metemorph” begins with choir like vocal harmonies being played in a dream state. As the vocals become more eclectic, the dream turns into a nightmare, intensifying the listening experience. The music for this track is down right dreary and the vocals are some of the most chilling to be heard yet. The final track on the album is “Anathema”. Starting with a refreshing vocal harmony of inaudible cadence, random piano keys create an abhorrent atmosphere that is sure to induce a trance-like state (if allowed). At times, it seems as if the vocals and piano are trading off, telling two versions of an intense story that has no words, but one that can be felt through the power of music and emotions.

Dagmar Gertot’s bold statement of vocal and instrumental improvisations on her first album, ‘Os Lacrimale’ is a magnificent listen and widely open for interpretation. Although I mentioned a comparison to the great Avant-garde artist, Scott Walker, in my opening remarks, Dagmar Gertot transcends any single genre or classification and doesn’t deserve to be held back by any barriers. Whether you’re into ambient, experimental, ritualistic sounds Or avant-garde, ‘Os Lacrimale’ will definitely appeal to your musical taste. I highly recommend this unique artist, so please head over to the Cyclic Law Bandcamp page, or click on the link below to download this amazing album.

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Links:

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/os-lacrimale

Hasufel Spreads Anguish Into The Halls Of Madness With Synth-Spectacular, ‘Exaltation’

‘Exaltation’ has been a highly anticipated release ever since the advertisements and promo packages have been putting out exciting information on the music contained within for the past few months. For me, it provoked a sense of enthusiasm for really wanting to dive in and examine the power of each track. With just four songs and about twenty minutes of playing time, I expected this one to hit hard right from the opening note until the final one. So after have experiencing this album at least five or six times now, do I think it lives up to the hype? Absolutely…and then some! ‘Exaltation’ is a seamless blend of Dungeon Synth, Winter Synth and Dark Ambient with superb vocal narrations and effects, as well as ominous soundscapes and field recordings. This is quite the unique listening experience and definitely a rewarding one.

“School Of The Prophets” begins with eerie drones and sinister, lo-fi soundscapes, depicting a true scenery of dungeon vibes and heinous Medieval existence. Winter synth tones come into the equation and are quite melodic, but as an addition to the darkened tones, it’s presents a grim listening experience. Pastoral narrations add a maniacal and dreadful emotion that may seem overwhelming, but fits in perfectly to maintain the gloomy ambiance. The song closes out with a single – high-pitched – tones that leads right in to, “White Mildew”, another bleak affair that showcases what it would have been like to be committed to a lifetime of Dungeon-dwelling existence. The slight echo on the voice narrations is reminiscent of early 90’s Black Metal ambient sections – desolate and ominous at best. Although keyboards are used in a minimalistic setting, they fuse perfectly with the atmosphere of this track. “Salvación” is a slow builder, almost tribal-like, with more outstanding narrative parts. This time there is a vocal variant that is added, expanding the density of the soundscapes and field recordings. This track is almost in the realm of ritualistic black ambient, and is one of my favorite recordings on the album. However, amongst the chaos, it ends on an austere, but peaceful note. The final song on the album is the title track, “Exaltation”. From the very beginning, it emits very creepy vibes with heavily reverberated piano tracks and almost circus-like anthems, as if a great show was coming to a close. This is a grand meshing of the senses, as it is part whimsical and part malevolent. It’s like chaos with paralysis and a perfect way to end this short but amazing album.

Hasufel fuses the best of both worlds – speaking specifically of Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient. Although ‘Exaltation’ doesn’t fit firmly in either of these genres, the prodigious tracks contained within takes the best of both genres and expands them to a realm of unimaginable terror and viscous imagery. I’m completely fascinated by this recording and it reminds me of 90’s Black Metal as well, especially with the dissonant ambient interludes that create the horrific scenes between the tracks of hateful riffing. I highly recommend checking out ‘Exaltation’ if any of the above-mentioned descriptives appeal to you. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, so click on the link below and download this spectacular album.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://pacificthrenodies.bandcamp.com/album/exaltation

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dark Ambient Summary Reviews, Part II

The Dark Ambient community is such a prodigious one, consumed with brilliant artists that release some of the most diverse albums in – what is widely considered – one of the most minimalistic spectrums in music. That being said, I’m proud to present round two of my Dark Ambient summary reviews, that finds many of these artists broadening that spectrum with some of the most divergent tunes I’ve heard in a long time. I hope you enjoy reading these and please support these amazing artists as the continue to progress their musical achievements.

1. Aldebaran’s Nebulah – Deep Form Of Cosmic Signals

Cosmic, Lo-Fi dark ambience that depicts a cold and callous realm beyond the reach of any civilization. Soothing and minimalistic, each track portrays the bleakest depths of space with hints extraterrestrial effects and soundscapes. Although just two tracks, this is a very enjoyable outing and I’m looking forward to more by this artist.

https://aldebaransnebulah.bandcamp.com/album/deep-form-of-cosmic-signals

2. Veinte 33 Records Compilation – From Perihelion To Aphelion

Veinte 33 Records has quite the impressive lineup of artists and releases, producing stellar ambient and obscure efforts on a consistent basis. For those that are not familiar, can start with this amazing compilation album that showcases some of their most incredible talents. From nominal soundscapes to bizarre discordance, these fourteen tracks provide a massive eighty minutes of impressive music. Some of my favorite artists on here include Colonial Skyway, Trucking To Tokyo, ExistenZ & WhaltHisney. I highly recommend this collection!

https://veinte33records.bandcamp.com/album/from-perihelion-to-aphelion-a-veinte-33-records-compilation

3. Sabled Sun – 2149

When it comes to Sabled Sun, I honestly prefer the ‘Signals’ space ambient series over the ‘21xx’ post-apocalyptic ambient series. However, I still love the ‘21xx’ series and ‘2149’ is the perfect addition to the dystopian storyline. Everything about this album is just perfect – the field recordings, desolate piano chops, soundscapes, and even the tape hisses & vinyl scratches gives it a wonderful nostalgic feeling. One of my favorite Dark Ambient albums of 2021 so far!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/2149

4. Taphephobia – Blue Hour

Cyclic Law continues their unfathomable streak of enthralling releases with the captivating sounds of Taphephobia. ‘Blue Hour’ provides a slow-motion listening experience of ethereal proportions and the magnitude of the soundscapes expand beyond the grand sphere of audial bliss. If you close your eyes and really absorb this album, you’ll find yourself having a euphoric out-of-body experience.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/blue-hour

5. Anastasia Vronski – In The Dark

If atmospheric chaos and turmoil is your thing, look no further than ‘In The Dark’ by Anastasia Vronski. With two tracks of industrialized black ambience decimating the inner ear cavity for over thirty one minutes, there is no room for recovery and little chance of survival – if your mind is not prepared for this raw and austere journey. This is a very impressive release and hopefully this sonic creation is just the beginning of a string of amazing albums.

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-dark

6. MNZKRT – MNZKRT

What’s better than thirty five minutes of heavily distorted drone tunes suffused with deep modulations, glitches and eerie soundscapes? Not much, if this sort of audio terror is your thing. ‘MNZKRT’ is an unusual recording but surprisingly captivating with spacious atmospherics of the highest order. I highly recommend checking this out.

https://mnzkrt.bandcamp.com/album/mnzkrt

7. Material Loss – EP

This is an amazing recording that borders the dimensions of harsh black ambient and minimalistic soundscapes with hints of industrialized madness. These four tracks take the listen to an alternate reality, where escape from apocalyptic terror is imminent but highly unlikely. At times bleak and consoling but the remainder of the aural duration is spent with glitches and disturbing sound resilience. This one is best played with the lights down low and a few lit candles to set the mood.

https://materialloss.bandcamp.com/album/ep

8. BECKAHESTEN – Vattenhålens Dräpare

This album is the result of the fortunate collision of nature and a dystopian future of another dimension. These soundscapes are purely cinematic and chronicle an intriguing story of world hereafter. Chanting vocals, haunting narrations and tribal drumming add to the mystique of this adventure and it is sure to garner many repeat plays.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/vattenh-lens-dr-pare

9. Shedir – Finite Infinity

‘Finite Infinity’ is the perfect blend of dreamy space ambience and cinematic soundscapes, fused with elements of both light and dark ambience. Shedir capitalizes on these strengths and creates a bold style of synth-based music that is inductive of trance-like repercussions as well as a sense of ambiguous emotions. Although I wasn’t previously familiar with this artist, it’s safe to say that these songs will continue to be in heavy playlist rotation.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/finite-infinity

10. Aegri Somnia – Nusquam

If I had to pick at least one artist on the Cryo Chamber Label that consistently gave me a sense of strained settlement with each release, it would be Aegri Somnia. These are some of the most well-crafted dark ambient songs that have been released by the artist and there is a steady flow of cinematic quality that can’t be overlooked. One thing that particularly stands out is the excellent use of field recordings and how they extend the listening experience through various cosmic realms.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/nusquam

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!