I have lots of fun writing about my favorite labels in The Nebula Breviary column. Originally I intended for it to be a one-off publishing but due to the growth in the Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth genres over the past few years, I plan to keep at it in order to showcase some of my favorites of both genres. For this particular publishing, I will feature ten exiting albums from the Taste Of Beer Records label. This up and coming label has produced a lot of exciting albums in both digital and physical formats and they continually deliver music from the tavern that surely appeals to an ever growing fan base. Thanks for reading this and I hope you enjoy these albums as much as I have.
1. Goblin Mage – Charms & Devilry
‘Charms & Devilry’ is an absorbing journey through enchanted forests, where mystical entities become your guide for captivating adventures. Minimalistic and soothing, these eight tracks present a light-hearted effort that elicits tones of mystic landscapes and rhythmic modulations that are part whimsical and part daring. Tracks such as “Strange Magick” and “Goblin Town” stand out as studious anthems that are memorable and truly representative of album as a whole. Recommended for fans of buoyant sounds and jaunty Dungeon Synth dirges.
2. Helmet – Vanitas
The Medieval times were not always filled with gory battles and drama amongst royalty. When I think of the more ostentatious times, this is exactly the music that I envision being played. Relaxing melodies and soothing orchestrations are at the center of these simple, yet uniquely composed songs. With an eloquent tone that is reminiscent of lenitive landscapes and soft, breezy forests, ‘Vanitas’ is an entertaining effort that truly symbolizes the fulfilling life beyond the Keep and beyond the realms of battle. This will be a Dungeon Synth classic in the years to come.
3. Vouivre – The Father Of Dragons-Glaurung
Talking about a beautiful cinematic effort, ‘The Father of Dragons-Glaurung’ could easily be a soundtrack to a Medieval-inspired action movie. This robust album features four long-players that produce a theatric blend of Dungeon Synth intonations and intoxicating orchestrations. Beautiful produced, one could easily create their own feudal adventure, as these tracks weave through dark landscapes and harrowing Middle Ages creativity. Epic, to say the least, Vouivre has provided the ultimate audial accompaniment that certainly does this genre proud. You definitely don’t want to sleep on this one.
4. Mushrooms – Between The Moss And The Sky
‘Between The Moss And The Sky’ is a dainty little offering that resides in the Comfy Synth realm and it provides a playful antidote for the ears. I can imagine a rainforest in recovery, after the harshness of an autumn storm, where the raindrops faintly evaporate and the ground gives way to natural fungal growth. Content with its beautiful surroundings and exotic location off the hidden path, these tracks expand upon natures gift to mankind and the alluring endeavors that continue to evolve. Simple rhythms and dreamy synth leads will leave the listener mesmerized and wanting more.
5. Assorted Potions & Deep Gnome – Threadmage’s Curious Encounter With The Fae Folk
This is probably one of my favorite Comfy Synth albums of the last few years. Not entirely whimsical, these consoling canticles have a particular enchanting tone that takes a somberly approach on its delivery, instead of being outright quirky. To make it even better, there are a couple of cover songs that are mouthwatering takes on a few Cheryl Crow and Enya classics. If you enjoy the more consoling side of Dungeon Synth, then be sure to check out this amazing project and album.
6. Anadûnê – Durin, Father Of Dwarves
From the Elminster camp, Anadûnê presents a sharper, more focused effort that is dark, menacing and at times gothic in tone. The four long-players that make up ‘Durin, Father Of Dwarves’ are a true calling to the traditional Dungeon Synth sound and comes complete with rhythmic percussive elements and layers of intoxicating instrumentation. This is a journey that demands to be revisited time and time again, and is one for the ages. Listening to tracks like ‘The Hammer Of Aulë” and “I Wander Alone” gets me exited for endless Medieval endeavors and all of the imaginative tales that come with it. I’m a big fan of this project and recommend this to all of the daring souls that wish to embark on mystifying musical adventures.
7. Elminster & Meadow Grove – Winds Of Mages
Two of Dungeon Synth’s most prominent artists, Elminster & Meadow Grove have teamed up to present one of the ultimate collaboration projects of the genre. Two uniquely crafted artists, very distinct sounds and impeccable song writing on one mammoth of an album. ‘Winds Of Mages’ soars high and delivers a bold blend of darkness, magic and obscure electronic synths. Coherent modulations exude a capricious path of synth madness and haunting tales that need no narrative for understanding. As each track transparently flows into the next, it’s apparent that this is a high-scale output that needs a follow-up album (hint, hint). Another highly recommended album that is sure to get plenty of playing time in the foreseeable future.
8. The Toadstool Elf – The Toadstool Elf
‘The Toadstool Elf’ is a quaint, Comfy Synth offering that wondrously flows like a symphonic soundtrack of a mystical domain. With only five tracks and twenty two minute of playing time, there are heaps of entertaining, musical sections contained within to satisfy your whimsical needs. Boasting a dream-like production effort, there is a visible haze to these tracks, as if daydreaming of peaceful times, deep in a hidden forest of elves, mythical creatures and colorful landscapes. This is a serene album with enough harmonious sections to pique your interest.
9. Forlorn Swordsman – Old School Lo-Fi Dungeon Music
When it comes to Dungeon Synth – well music In general – I tend to resonate the most with lo-fi offerings that are raw, organic and in some cases, relatable to my emotional state. That being said, Forlorn Swordsman is right up my alley. Producing an hour long blend of Dungeon Synth and Comfy Synth, ‘Old School Lo-Fi Dungeon Music’ is not only aptly named, but in a sense, a completely dark & eerie experience. These tracks are not flimsily thrown together at all, as they are masterfully orchestrated with bits of melody and chaos – all at the same time. Standout tracks include “Cross The Sorrowfields”, “Dreams Of Old Times” and “Made Free By The Blade”. I hate that I missed out on the cassette version of this, as it would have sounded perfect on my old shoebox cassette player. At any rate, this is an exquisite release and it doesn’t get more lo-fi than this.
10. Onfang – Audible Mending
‘Audible Mending’ is a unique Comfy Synth offering that features dreamy vocal performances, tranquil synth effects and a song called “The Last Narwhal”. How can you not like an album that feature a song about the rare, Arctic sea creature? Containing six electrifying songs, they each stand out in their own way and envelop all of the traditional Dungeon Synth aesthetics. Haunting and whimsical, this album produces an array of emotions that extends beyond Medieval realms and encapsulating forests while allowing the listen to sink into their own imagination. Another great release from Taste Of Beer Records!