This has been an amazing year for the Dungeon Synth community as we’ve seen (and heard) more releases than ever, been exposed to a plethora of new artists and have witnessed many of the seasoned acts that we know and love release some of their best material to date. Amongst those artists is the newcomer, Ten Of Swords. Although Ten Of Swords has only been around a little over a year, there is already a huge catalog of memorable albums to check out. For my last review of 2022, I’ll be writing about ‘You Were Once Far But Now You Are Close’. Although not the latest album (as there has been at least nine addition releases since this offering from March), it was my introduction to this project so I thought it would be a good idea to write about my first impression.
Album opener, “Night Of The Worm Moon Festival” slowly creeps in with a cavernous effect on the synth leads. As the music comes into focus, a percussive cadence is fused in, creating a battle-like rhythm. There is a tinge of discordance to this track and it’s bound to put the listener into a mood full of Medieval crusades and bloodshed victories. “Raiding The Wizard’s Wine Cellar” is a festive piece with inimical harmonies and consoling textures. There is a twangy effect with the main keys and the off-kilter soundscapes that happen throughout adds a bit of dark color to this otherwise convivial song. “A Spinning Dance Of Ancient And Forbidden Pagan Rhythms” is an upbeat offering that immediately offers a sanguine groove on top of ancient Middle Eastern patterns. Production wise, it sounds very distant and dreamy which adds to its mystique. “Who Would Have Though There Would Be A Dungeon Here?”, is a seventeen and a half minute affair into a dark atmosphere that features reverberated ambience in the beginning and builds into so much more from there. Staticky keys and dark pulses come into play as this brooding track begins to take shape. There are spots of whimsical synths as well as heavily modulated key tones that sounds downright menacing. As the track continues to unfold, it becomes apparent that the various sections are akin to walking down an ominous path in a dark forest and encountering the unexpected along the way. Even with an extended playing time, this spectacular track is over before you know it. “Den Of The Fallen” commences with the tolling of bells, that ring out in angst while a dark, dismal groove builds around it. The effects used on the keys here is extremely thick, as if someone is plucking the lower notes of a piano wire. Toward the end, distorted ambience comes into play, adding layers of grim textures, before simplifying into the opening chops of the tracks. This is a really cool song that is probably my favorite on the album. The final song is, “The Day After The Worm Moon Festival” and although the composition is quite jovial, in delivery it’s rather quixotic and portentous. Again, the production ensures a distant tone, allowing for the audial space to be consumed by droning thoughts and mystifying clarity. Another excellent track to close out this isolated year astonishing album.
Ten Of Swords is a pretty unique project with a one-of-a-kind sound that is firmly rooted in the Dungeon Synth genre. With a quickly growing catalog of anomalous albums, this act is definitely one to watch for in the near future. ‘You Were Once Far But Now You Are Close’ is an entertaining album that offers a variety of tones and styles that are quick to grow on. The longer songs allow for a complete meditative experience, as these tracks are somewhat trance-like in transmission. I highly recommend this album if you’re into the more obscure side of Dungeon Synth.
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