In 2001, one of the most brilliant films of our times was released. The film, “A Knights Tale”, was a black-comedy set in medieval times but had modern age references, as well as classic rock soundtrack. I know that it sounds strange, but somehow the styles just meshed together perfectly and the results were simply incandescent. Almost twenty years later, I’ve come across an album that has that same vibrant connection. The album, ‘Ascending The Stairs Toward My Nightmares Supreme’ by Poppet, is a fantasy-styled dungeon synth album with bellowing, harsh guitar tones that take center stage the majority of the time. Imagine if Sunn O))) were to add bits of dungeon synth keyboard to their droning tracks, and you’ll get a better understanding of the vibe that Poppet displays on this outing.
The album opener, “I Escape From The Forest”, begins with a soothing keyboard arrangement that sounds as if it could be taken from a Harry Potter soundtrack. However, within the first minute, loud and blaring guitar droning pierces the track and provides the first sounds of the unique texture of this album – and Poppet in general. Although the distorted guitar riffs drown out the keyboards in some sections, wondrous fantasy dungeon synth melodies continue to creep along throughout the track, making its ominous presence felt. The next track, “Finding Solace In A Temple, I Am Surrounded By Stairs And Artefacts To Forbidden Gods” finds a happy fantasy synth intro before bludgeoning, sludgy doom riffs infiltrate the scene. As the guitar riffs drone on at a slow pace, the keyboards tell a compelling story of curiosity of well being in a sacred place, where you find yourself enclosed by objects of dark desires. Unable to escape the present situation, the music seems to provide an alternate reality. The third track, “I Climb The Temple Stairs, Frightened By The Sights I Shall See”, continues down the same path as it’s predecessors and instills a certain darkness while the guitars and keyboards alternate in providing a chaotic scene. Although it seems a bit tumultuous in spots, this song has quite a bit of melody and synchronizes well even when it seems like it doesn’t. The final track, “Oh! What I Beheld!” Is a short track consisting of a layered & discordant keyboard arrangements and is a nice closing statement for the album as it’s grandiose vibe winds down the tone and complexity of everything that has happened previously.
Poppet is a very unique artist that contributes an incomparable approach to dungeon synth. I always like when artist try something different and hone their craft in an unconventional way. Poppet epitomizes that approach and excels in doing so. If you’re into dungeon synth with no limitations, I highly recommend checking out Poppet and the latest album, ‘Ascending The Stairs Towards My Nightmares Supreme.
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