Welcome to The Nebula Breviary! For starters, I’m not sure if this will be a continuous column or just a one-off publishing. In either case, I wanted to create something where I could spotlight an artist that is involved in a variety of projects, with a steady amount of releases. I couldn’t think of a better entity than Ithildin Tape Production. The home of Dungeon Synth maestro Elminster, Ithildin Tape Production is the mainstay of many other activities that performs in the Dungeon Synth realm and beyond. Enjoy these summary reviews of some of the many projects from Ithildin Tape Production!
1. The Owl Knight – Chamber Of The Starplotter
One thing I love about this release, is that it covers a lot of ground although being very compositionally minimalistic. This assortment of flavors included winter synth, raw Dungeon Synth and nominal chip tune without the cheerful undertones. The constant tape hiss gives off a nostalgic vibe and the flow from track-to-track is well thought out. You’ll definitely be reminiscing through retrospective Medieval content and this truly sounds like something that could be played in a deep, dingy dungeon. This one is worth checking out and adding it to your collection is a must.
2. Elminster – Caern Mist
Elminster, the flagship project of Ithildin Tape Production, sends a mesmerizing reminder as to why this is one of the best, traditional Dungeon Synth projects out right now. ‘Caern Mist’ is an exceptional release that features a range of dynamic orchestrations and light-hearted patterns that are enough to sooth the soul. These lengthy tunes drift in slow motion as if waiting for the seasons to change or the lapse in light as day fades to nocturnal bliss. Beautifully produced and elegantly composed, this album is a true testament of the mature path traveled for Elminster.
3. Muzgash – Hymn Of Hithlum
This is one of those recordings that you can turn on and then get lost in its vast atmospherics. A soothing ambience starts this twenty one minute long track and then it faintly reforms into a juggernaut of ritualistic beats and hypnotic loops that will keep you sedated for the duration on the track. Hints of Dungeon Synth effects are scattered throughout in a tasteful manner, as to not take away from the complete submersion of this audial spectacle. I would love to hear more from this project, especially if this is the material we have to look forward to.
4. Mahomet Renatus – Ire Of The Crescent Reborn
‘Ire Of the Crescent Reborn’ is an interesting blend of lo-fi Black Metal and sparse Dungeon Synth undertones. Minimalistic in approach, these three tracks complete a 20 minute cycle of trance-inducing wall of noise that is more of a controlled chaos that an all out blitzkrieg. The drums shift between blast beats and industrial thumps that maintains a deafening cadence. Overall a good release but the faster parts definitely stand out and create a whirlwind of noise that’s addictive and refreshing.
5. In Dusk’s Embrace – Earth End’s Pantheon
Atmospheric, primitive and seductive are a few words that come to mind while spinning ‘Earth End’s Panthron’. This thirty four minute opus is a single-track, tour de force of atmospheric black metal that is a melting pot of twisted & sinister riffs, ambient textures and grainy vocals that redirects the listener to early incantations of icy cold Black Metal. Other than a quaint acoustic intro and outro, this track procures a relentless pace and delivers top quality low fidelity music. I highly recommend this recording for those that love that old school necro sound.
6. Moss Keep – The Curtain Of Time
‘The Curtain Of Time’ exhibits two long-players of primordial Dungeon Synth with the essence of Medieval yearnings. Complete with hisses, cracks & pops of ancient recordings, the music leans on the side of melancholic compositions with somber soundscapes and a passion for mellow, emotive terrain. With both tracks extending beyond the thirteen minute mark, these depressive dirges are best heard on a dark, dreary day where emptiness is of the essence. This is a very entertaining release and amongst my favorites by Moss Keep.
7. Howling Mire – Answering The Hidden Summons
‘Answering The Hidden Summons’ is like an album of distraught ellegies, assembled for those mournful souls lost in ancient battles. The keyboard work throughout this album is amazing and truly showcases a sophisticated effort from the Ithildin Tape Production camp. Complete with background hisses to supplement the overall dismal ambience, these four tracks are over before you know it, even though totaling almost thirty minutes worth of music. Save this one for a rainy day and it will fit right in.
8. Dyvyná – Within The Walls Of The Promised Kingdom
From the music to the art work, this has the Renaissance era written all over it. Crisp synth leads and dreamy effects solidifies a haunting atmosphere of bright, effervescent colors. There is a slight reverb on the instrumentation as well, emitting a powerfully thick sound that aligns perfectly with the production efforts. This Dyvyná project is definitely one to look out for and an extensive catalog of music is already building up.
9. Whispers Of Umbar – Hail The Voidlord
Whispers Of Umbar is one of my favorite projects from Ithildin Tape Production. There is just something about that primitive sound that blurs the line between Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient that brings joy to these ears. ‘Hail The Voidlord’ is a near twenty seven minute experience that is crafted in noise and brutal harmonics that produces visions of bleak landscapes and unfathomable bloodshed. By the time this insane track is over, you’ll need a nap and a chalice of spirits before your next listening experience.
10. Üvegszakadás – In The Ashes Of The Fallen Empire
‘In The Ashes Of The Fallen Empire’ is a mammoth of an album, especially in regards to previous releases in the Ithildin Tape Production catalog. Almost an hour and forty minutes of granular Dungeon Synth that feels like a massive compression chamber of ghastly intonations that are sequentially summoning Medieval spirits for an upcoming apparitional raid. Haunting melodies compounded by wobbly effects and battle-ready cadences, this is an imposing outing that is sure to become a fan favorite.
11. Sorrow Of The Moon – Hávamál
‘Hávamál’ is one of six Sorrow Of The Moon demo’s released this year (thus far), each containing a single track ranging from twelve to twenty minutes of playing time. This project is a firm mashup of Elminster and Üvegszakadás, with its own production value that is gothic influenced and completely introspective. What I do love is the upbeat nature of this demo and how complete it sounds, with regards to the traditional Dungeon Synth sound. This is one that I can easily play over and over again without getting tired of it.
12. Maeglin – Screams Of A Frozen Heart
Unlike the other Black Metal releases on Ithildin Tape Production, Maeglin infuses more distorted guitar chords and focuses on melody and song structure, instead of trance-like atmospherics. The results – at least for ‘Screams Of A Frozen Heart’ – is that it’s more focused, catchy and quite enjoyable. There are definitely some Dungeon Synth undertones, specifically in the intro and various spots throughout the release. However, they are used more of as a background discord than being the focal point of the music. This is another admirable release from ITP!
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