Nostalgic Tales Of Horror Told Through Enthralling Dungeon Synth On Mystica Visio’s Massive Debut Self-Titled Album

The Dungeon Synth genre has become an invaluable platform for many artists to harvest various styles of synth music. Most artists are able to maintain a strong foothold with typical genre topics, while venturing out to the far reaches of other subject matters, such as time & space, emotions, and horror. Whereas the majority of the brand resides around Medieval content and RPG-influenced arrangements, some artists extend for endless endeavors in order to orchestrate a different approach to the genre. In some cases, the outcome is a bit obtuse but in other situations, the outcome is magnificent. Case in point, the self-titled debut offering from Mystica Visio is a grim journey down an endless, morbid path that is more psychological thriller than horror. The music is deep, emotional, beautifully desolate and of course, Dungeon Synth! The six tracks contained within this thirty eight minute recording are fascinating and memorable, yet you’ll be watching over your shoulder in frightful anxiety as the tracks move from one to the next.

The maniacal terror begins with “Mystical Visions Of A Dead Past”. With deep, crushing synth effects that paint a vivid scene of solitude and anguish, this is the perfect opening for this sojourn of emptiness. Once the layered, high-pitched keys commit to the mix, the haunting melodies pave the way for an exemplary listening experience like no other. “The Glowing Figure” commences with a peaceful synth arrangement and slowly introduces layers of harrowing effects that take this track down a dark and daunting path. The low-end tone in the background create an ominous drone that extends a symphonic effect, while maintaining a discordant keyboard arrangement throughout. This is a somberly flowing song that maximizes the intent of a dreadful feeling or experience and it certainly succeeds like no other. “The Prophecy Was A Lie” is the closest this album comes to producing a tradition Dungeon Synth sound. The harmony on display in the layered keyboard chops is wondrous and without a doubt, you’ll be humming this restrained melody even after the song is over. Another key element is the beautiful drawn-out synths in the background that tell a story all on its own. Although it fuses perfectly with the synth leads, it would also sound amazing as a stand-alone track of a subdued nature. “Journey Across The Lake Of Lost Souls” contains a bewildering retro synthwave vibe that would be perfect to listen to on a late night (or pre-dawn early morning) drive. Although it doesn’t quite get into full on Berlin School synth mode, there are definitely hints of that style and this seven and a half minute long track seems just too short for the amazing music that is on display here. Up next is the absolutely stunning, “Spell Of Entrapment”. This song has everything that I love in a synth track; it’s dark, full of emotion, tells a wordless story, has a huge retro vibe and is almost eleven and a half minutes long. Genre’s aside, this is possible one of my favorite synth songs of the year (from any genre). There is nothing I can say in this review that will give this song it’s due justice other than, every time I listen to it, I’m mentally removed from my current state of being and taken somewhere that I never remember visiting. What a huge effect from such an amazing song. The final track, “Within These Damp Walls I Found My Home”, end the album on a brooding, yet sincere note. There is depth and pain in the intonations that are played, yet I also hear a lighter side of Mystica Visio at times. It’s obvious this arrangement tells of agony and foreboding of the unknown, yet there is a certain peace with knowing the gruesome outcome. Droning synths pace the musical scales while illustrious keyboard effects take center stage with a lead arrangement that is almost deafening, but necessary for the narrative. This is the perfect track for ending this album as it sums up everything that Mystica Visio is all about.

With one foot firmly planted in Dungeon Synth and the other floating around in various other synth genres, Mystica Visio is one of those special artists that has what it takes to create something unique and special. ‘Mystica Visio’ transcends the genre spectrum and delivers a synth masterpiece and I also consider it one of my Album Of The Year contenders – yes, it’s that good. Don’t let the fact of this being a debut album fool you, as Mystica Visio creator – Gustavo Jobim – is a seasoned, synth veteran and an award winning composer (for his Original Soundtrack for the ‘Os Principiles’ movie soundtrack). If you’ve not had the opportunity to dive into ‘Mystica Visio’ yet, now would be a good time. Please support this astounding album by downloading it from the link below. I’ve also included a link to Gustavo Jobim’s solo works as well, so please give those a listen.

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Links:

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com

Solo Works Of Gustavo Jobim:

https://gustavojobim.bandcamp.com

http://www.gustavojobim.com

Moloch Conspiracy Produces A Chilling Listening Experience That Eclipses Genre Boundaries On ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’

The bewilderment of ritualistic ambient music never ceases to amaze me. The element of dark, ceremonial soundscapes fused with minimalist drones and tonal ambient vibes conjure a malevolent atmosphere that takes a special artist in order to create this monstrous effect. If not done correctly, the outcome can lead to an extremely boring affair with no sense of liturgical reasoning. Fortunately, Moloch Conspiracy has mastered this craft and presents us with the bold ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’, a dynamic, ritualistic encounter that reaches the far scopes of the obsidian spectrum.

“The Cold Escape” epitomizes the ritualistic experience and is the perfect album opener with its nefarious soundscapes and ominous atmospheric undertones. Harrowing vocals add a layer of chilling bleakness that is thought-provoking, yet unforgiving. This gloominess continues into “Daughter Of Anu”. With the vocals more dominant and layered than the first track, a depth of ancient ceremonial vibes begins to come into view. The addition of haunting narrations and acoustic instruments create endless boundaries as this musical exorcism is now in full stride. “She Clambers Over” begins with a dissonant musical arrangement, played over a dark drone that has a feeling of misery and suffering. As the distant, narrations read through long lost religious texts, constant, soft percussive rhythms provide a trance-like state for the lister to absorb everything that is happening. “The Familiar Weapons” introduce new sounds to the album as this track has a lighter arrangement than the previous ones. That’s not to say that the message and delivery aren’t as heinous, as female vocals and narrations take center stage once again. Containing more soundscapes than ambient tones, this track stands out amongst the dark, ritualistic listening experiences. “The Head Of The Cauldron” commences with sinister drones that fade in like an evil spirit taking over a summoning encounter. Dark, and atmospheric with the occasional ceremonial instrument inclusion, this is one of the more perverse tracks. With “Visions Of Namtar”, Moloch Conspiracy once again proves the versatile nature of songwriting on this album. Although, it starts off with a lighter sense of reasoning, it quickly takes a turn to a more gloomy ordeal. Featuring bleak drones and somber soundscapes, this is actually a busy track as there are a lot of things are going on without sounding over bearing. The final track on the album is “Legions To Legions”. Beautiful drones and ritualistic chanting are at the forefront, as it soon becomes an all out dark ceremonial experience – a climactic summoning of evil spirits. Various instruments add liturgical tones throughout, as this wondrous sacrament of evil comes to a daunting close.

‘Incantatios From Ugarit’ is an exception Dark Ambient album album with majestic ritualistic influences and it goes without saying that Moloch Conspiracy didn’t hold anything back for this magnificent listening experience. From somber drones and bleak atmospherics to female vocals and ceremonial narrations, ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’ contains all of the elements necessary for an album worthy of multiple listens. Please support this captivating artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/incantatios-from-ugarit

Coelus Cataclysmus Take Us On A Vexing Adventure That Declines To An Abhorrent Demise On ‘Solus Plaga’

The mysteries of a musical journey can be just as mesmerizing as the theme it is providing a soundtrack for. When a daring story line begins with a typically painless setting and transcends obscurity to end up grim and twisted, there has to be a unique listening experience to go along with it. Coelus Cataclysmus contributes exactly what is desired on the extremely versatile, ‘Solis Plaga’. Adapting to just about every thematic scene imaginable – in this story of cosmic destruction and the inevitable downfall of mankind that soon followed – a diverse mix of genres are fused together to arrange a boundless album of energy and creativity. From traditional dungeon synth, medieval synth & neo-classical, to droning soundscapes and retro-synthwave, ‘Solus Plaga’ generates a hefty forty eight minutes of playing time across nine unique tracks.

“One Last Hike” commences the doomed adventure with lush keyboard tones and traditional dungeon synth effects that drone slowly, but in a harmonious effort. Eerie soundscapes give the feeling of solitude and despair, yet the journey must go on. “Darkening Skies” establishes a beautiful Medieval foundation with its orchestrated effects and sorrowful melodies. High-pitched keyboard leads have an ominous texture, yet mix very well with what all is happening in the background. “Night Eternal Sets” is one of my favorite songs on the album, as it begins to introduce elements of retro-synthwave, contributing to the bleak atmosphere of the story being told on the album. The layers upon layers of somber synths have a dream-like quality and will have you wanting to listen to this one over and over again. “Cataclysm” is where the darkness really begins to seep through, as low-end drones barely penetrate the audible frequency ranges. Suddenly, dungeon synth leads ring out in bizarre desperation as it paints an oblique setting. Toward the end of the track, heavily distorted drones come crashing through to represent the beginning of the end of times. “Chrestomathy Of Dread” is a stand-out track with its anomalous creativity and fusion of both slow and faster drum patterns throughout the song. There are spots of peaceful ambient endeavors and other times, the main synth melody of the track shines through like a discernible addiction. “Bring Out Your Dead” starts with a malevolent synth chop with indistinguishable narrations or screams happening in the background and off in the distance. This track has a crushing Medieval vibe and there are several times where brooding soundscapes penetrate the mix to provide something a bit different. This is another stand-out track and they seem to get more gloomy as we reach the final few songs. “Rapture” begins with a sulking drone that soon explodes into a wall of symphonic patterns that clearly portray the end of the world (in musical form). However, after a few minutes of this cacophony of sound, layers of glowing synths suggest a grim aftermath of harrowing desolation. “Empty Lands” is another sonic track that is heavy on the distorted keys, Medieval-like percussion and occasional soundscape to keep everything together. This track has several symphonic twists and turns that are not only pleasing to the ear, but fully show what Coelus Cataclysmus is capable of doing. The final song on the album is the dreary, “Red Rain”. Full of emotion, this dismal track really sends the listeners to an oblivious state, as the collapse of civilization is complete and the only thing left is the atrocities of nature itself. The droning keyboards and bleak ambience really set the tone for this nightmare as the main keyboard melody is so beautiful, yet at the same time, so painful to hear. What a great way to end this spectacular album.

Coelus Cataclysmus have created a monstrous album (and storyline), where the music not only acts as the protagonist but ends up as the villain as well. There are no musical boundaries here, as multiple synth sub-genres coalesce as one to produce a breathtaking listening experience. ‘Solis Plaga’ is an adventure that must be heard to be felt and understood, and this album ranks highly amongst my Dungeon Synth favorites for this year. If you’ve not heard this yet, I can’t recommend it enough, so please support this magnificent work of art and download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://coeluscataclysmus.bandcamp.com/album/solis-plaga

Colonial Skyway Provide A Desolate Soundscape Of Midwestern-Influenced Ambience On ‘Landline’

As with any genre of music, there is a wide variety of flavors to choose from even in the dark ambient arena. Whether it’s the cold, isolated drones of space ambient; ominous, ceremonial vibes of ritualistic black ambient or the harsh soundscapes that infiltrate the airwaves in industrial ambient, there is always something to appeal to a particular mood. Colonial Skyway takes us down a different path with an equal balance of warm and cold ambient vibes, heavily influenced by the Midwestern landscape and character. The output is a minimalistic and bleak recording that is heavy on atmospheric and transparent drones that are trance-inductive and perfect for the meditative practice. On the latest album, ‘Landline’, the listener is taken on a spiritual journey in which the mental excursion is self-induced, yet magnified by the listening experience.

The album begins with the sincere and barren, “Data Over Iowa”. The hiss and crackles of tape loops flourish lightly in the background while light winds and diverse soundscapes contemplate in a cycled pattern. Somber keyboard tones are introduced as another element to the mix vice as a standout instrument, adding to the depth and meaning of this track. “Overnight” is a bold statement on the album as it is an eleven minute continual drone that doesn’t contain any additional instrumentation, soundscapes or field recordings. When you put in perspective the song title and it’s style, it all makes sense. If the listener sits back and lets this track take them away to another encounter, then the perpetuity begins to come together. Next up is my favorite venture on the album, “Could Be Down”. Featuring cold atmospherics and bleak soundscapes, this is one of the darker experiences this album. Deep tonal synths sway with high and low modulations, perpetuating a feeling of solitude and malevolence. While enjoying the apocalyptic feeling of this recording, it’s astonishing to know that this ten minute track seems to pass by so quickly. “Calling Merrytown” is another dismal piece that could easily be in a horror film sequence, at the point where viewer anxiety has reached it maximum level, and just before a climactic and violent sequence takes place. However, for the theme of this recording, I can imagine traveling through a deserted town where the infrastructure has all but rotted or collapsed, with weeds growing through every crack in the roadways and sidewalks and vines creeping up everything that remains vertical. Even without the help of a deep drone, the consistent looping of the discordant keyboard chops are enough to keep the shock value in tact. “Subdivision” starts with a warm drone, as if the clear sky of the early morning dawn radiates on the horizon. I can imagine driving down a long empty highway, listening to this track while (in unison) the sunrise slowly comes into view. The final song on the album is “Town And Country”. With the faint sounds of (what could be) a train soaring by, howling keyboard effects provide a shining light to end this amazing album. The elongated keys drone systematically throughout most of the track fading softly into the final few minutes that end in the same fashion as it began.

Colonial Skyway have put together an immaculate recording of expertly crafted dark ambient material. The use of field recordings, soundscapes and overbearing deep drones are used sparingly and in proper taste. However, that has all been replaced with long, intelligent drones and keyboard use, that is full of emotion and mid-west landscape influences. For me, this is the perfect meditative album for sleeping and even complementing thought patterns while working or just trying to relax. I highly recommend checking out ‘Landline’ so please support this fascinating artist by downing the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://colonialskyway.bandcamp.com/album/landline

Neo-Classical Elements And A Conceptual Medieval Tale Give Life To Almesbury Abbey’s ‘Queen Guinevere’

There are many stories that depict the life of Queen Guinevere, the nefarious wife of King Arthur, but one of the most regarded chronicles is her lustful betrayal of her husband and consequent affair with Lancelot. After a period of time, she returns to the King and is forgiven of her treacherous disloyalty. However, King Arthur decides to go pursue Lancelot, leaving Queen Guinevere in the care of Mordred, who has an ulterior motive of his own – a plan to marry the Queen. Fleeing his proposal, Queen Guinevere seeks refuge in the nun convent known as Almesbury – where she subsequently remained for the remainder of her life due to the humiliation of her infidelities. Much of this was paraphrased for the sake of this review but it’s such an intriguing story and the major influence for the album at hand. Almesbury Abbey, one of many projects by Arnaud Spitz (and the material contained within), is a rediscovery of compositions previously written but finally released on this conceptual album based on Queen Guinevere’s concluding years in the Almesbury convent.

Somber opening track, “Guinevere’s Gone”, begins with a hauntingly alluring melody that seems so full of sadness, yet offers a bit of brightness with the extended synth tones that weave in and out of the main keyboard passage. Keeping it simple, this song doesn’t build upon layers of synth leads and rhythms, but instead draws the listener in with its beautiful simplicity. “Mordred’s Curse” is where the excitement begins and the grim, Medieval arrangements take over. Layers of obscured synths and a sudden bit of pulsating effects, followed by nightmarish sounds give this short track a big presence on the album. “The Creeping Mist” is another enticing track that is full of wondrous melody and droning ambience to give this brooding dirge a full and really clear sound. The lead synth chops are used sparingly and in good taste, as they provide an additional warming atmosphere. Next up is my a favorite song on the album, “A Madness Of Farewells”. Commencing with a mysterious synth effect that fuses into an elegant, yet melancholic arrangement, this has to be one of the most memorable moments on the album. Medieval-style keyboard leads and layers of dungeon synth melodies complete this monumental song and in my opinion, it’s just not long enough. “Almesbury Gates” starts with blasting cathedral-like organs before developing into a modest dungeon synth arrangement. These two styles battle back and forth throughout the track with the occasional pulse effect, giving it a percussive feel. Toward the end, the melody changes and contains an echo effect, providing a grandiose sound. “Heathen Of The Northern Sea” is an enchanting piece that compliments the style of Almesbury Abbey. The lead keyboard chops are magical on this track and pay further homage to the traditional dungeon synth sound. “My Sinful Queen I Forgive Thee” has the characteristics (and sound) of a classical guitar composition with hints of retro progressive synth arrangements, with regards to tone and its progressive time signature. The final track on the album is “Beyond These Voices There Is Peace.” The choir-like vocal effects are both ominous and mournful at the same time. Medieval synth interpretations slowly crescendo into the mix and ultimately overtake the vocal effects all together. As more synth sounds are introduced, the more dismal the track gets, painting a very grim picture to close out the album.

Almesbury Abbey is a very fascinating project that contains elements of neo-classical, dungeon synth and Medieval compositions. Knowing that all of these magnificent pieces were written and inspired by the latter days of Queen Guinevere, makes it all the more worthwhile. If you enjoy synth music of a more intimate setting with hints of harsher overtones, I would highly recommend checking out ‘Queen Guinevere’ and supporting this prodigious artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://almesburyabbey.bandcamp.com/releases

Artists Of The Obscure Realm Conjoin To Finalize The Overture Militia Compilation Known As, ‘The Plan’

Label compilation albums are the perfect introduction for not only finding new and electrifying bands and artists, but to also dig deep and explore in a vast array of genres that we – for the most part – tend to generally only skim the surface. Earlier this year, Overture Militia Inc., a small label that spotlights artists of the post-industrial and dark ambient domain, released a valiant, eighteen track collection known as ‘The Plan’. Examining genres such as dungeon synth, dark ambient, drone, harsh noise & industrial, ‘The Plan’ is an hour and forty six minute journey into the oblique side of esoteric music. Although this is an amazing, yet bleak outing, I will further examine a few of my favorite tracks below.

“Ruination, The New Dawn Cometh” by Old Tower is the second song on the album and one of my standouts overall. Although most of the album consists of harsh, industrialized noise and dark ambient, this dungeon synth track fits in perfectly, with its austere sound, doomy tempo, and thick synth tones. There is a great bit of melody on this song, which is hauntingly beautiful. However, don’t get use to it because that vibe stops almost completely after this song. “Nursery” by Aseptic Void is the fourth song and it contains some of the creepiest dark ambient emotions I’ve heard in a while. The sound bit in the beginning – of children playing on a playground – adds an extra sinister awareness to all of the malevolent soundscapes that continuously possess the audio waves. Low-end drones and the occasional guttural narration is enough to give consistent nightmares. “Unhallowed” by Ursuper is the fifth track on the album and it continues in the dark ambient arena with a brooding, minimalistic approach in the beginning. It’s one of those tracks that slowly grows and builds to a climactic ending but you never know what’s going to happen in between until it actually does. At around the four minute mark, industrial affects increase in volume as if total annihilation is soon to happen. Over the next couple of minutes, this mechanized sound crescendos before slowly fading into oblivion. “The Horsemen Ride Out On Foaming Steeds” by Nordvargr is the ninth track on the album and probably one of my favorites. Nordvargr is such an amazing artist that consistently delivers appetizing music that borders post-industrial, black ambient, and death metal (specifically with the vocals). This track is a standout masterpiece on the album and the guttural vocals are what make this so appealing and unique. I could listen to this style of music all day. “White Sun Over Our Children – Exhale 22” by Miracle Of Love is the tenth track on the album and is just over ten minutes long, making it one of the longest songs on the album. Beginning with a short blast of harsh noise, it soon settles into a rhythmic drum & bass loop with minimal synth effects and soundscapes. Every so often, the drum beat alternates rhythms and the occasional harsh noise sample is thrown in for good measure and in good taste. For the last three or four minutes, the drum beats are replaced with drones and maniacal sound effects. “Hackfleisch” by Rubber Nurse is the eleventh and most evil sounding track on the album. It’s a near three and a half minute grueling drop into the abysmal hole of blackened industrial ambience, with a fair share of barely audible voice samples. Never the less, this sounds killer and I want to hear more by this artist! “Euer Hunger” by Todesritual, is the twelfth track on the album and is like listening to a scene from a horror movie. There are layered whispers, obscure field recordings, industrial soundscapes, and mild keyboard sounds, but they all come together in a frightening way and the final minute is an excellent throwback to the retro synthwave sound of the 80’s.

Overture Militia did an excellent job putting together this compilation of artist from varied backgrounds and genres. For those that are into obscure music and for those that don’t mind venturing into territories of the unknown, then ‘The Plan’ is for you. This album is sure to contain some artist or tracks that will get your blood pumping (or boiling), allowing you to continue following their artistic endeavors outside of this compilation. That being said, do yourself a favor and support the underground by downloading this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://overturemilitia.bandcamp.com/album/the-plan

Lunch Cult Bends The Knee To A Variety of Genres And Musical Influences To Present ‘Knights & Knaves”

When it comes to exploring new territories of music for some artists, some are a little apprehensive about taking risks while others compromise their original sound altogether despite reproach. One such collective is Lunch Cult, a LoFi Garage Rock Band that transcends experimental creativity but has never strayed too far from the pop/rock genre…until now. On latest album, ‘Knights & Knaves’, Lunch Cult fuses an improvisational blend of Dungeon Synth, ambient textures, crypt hop moments and synth effect wizardry to produce an eclectic concoction of three Medieval tales that will have the listener spying for influences throughout each track.

Animated album opener, “Return To Cucumber Castle”, sets things off in high gear as the somber synth tones are reminiscent of a jazzy, noir setting that slowly begins to incorporate layers of effects, hip hop rhythmic beats and hypnotic keyboard effects that perfectly harmonize with the main chop of the song. At about the halfway point, a fast drum beat takes over and plays along side the main keyboard section. This combination of fast beats and slow keyboard arrangements go over really well and flow perfectly into the next section of the song, as if it’s taking after a 70’s prog rock instrumental track. As the song climaxes in the final minute or so, all of the arrangements come together in unison and slowly fade out to a improvised saxophone section. Up next is the eccentric “Knavesong”. Random keyboard licks, percussion grooves and saxophone notes, come together as individual improvisations but can be easily interpreted as a single and relevant composition. There are parts of this track that remind me of of the OLD (Old Lady Driver) track, “Backward Through The Greedo Compressor” from their 1993 album, ‘The Musical Dimensions Of Sleastak’. Like any fusion-era jazz composition – that seemed wildly random at the time – this kind of music is an acquired taste for some and an audible gem for others. I fall in the latter category and commend Lunch Cult for their creativity and output, and for remaining open to ideas that unfold across multiple genres. The final track on the album is the twelve minute long “Knightsong”. With more of a straightforward approach, Lunch Cult takes the listener on a Medieval journey with brooding Dungeon Synth sounds that are augmented by haunted rhythmic beats and ambient sections. Although it is more minimalistic than the other tracks on this album, it has a heafty output and at times sounds chilling. There are small bits of chiptune thrown in at random and the peculiar noises that fade in and out throughout, are done in great taste. There is an awesome video premier for this track below, and I highly recommend checking it out. It’s really entertaining and put together very well with a comedic, but impeccable storyline.

If you take the time to peruse through Lunch Cult’s Bandcamp discography, you’ll probably reach the conclusion that there’s truly no accounting for musical taste. The sounds you may hear on one album will be completely different from the next. That couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to ‘Knights & Knaves’, as it includes rich ambient textures, Dungeon Synth overtones, a little bit of quirkiness and a considerable amount of anything else that can be processed to compose magical musical endeavors. Check out the awesome video for “Knightsong” (below) and support this unique band by downloading ‘Knights & Knaves’ from the link (even further) below.

Video Premier of “Knightsong” (Official Music Video):

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Links:

https://lunchcult.bandcamp.com/album/knights-knaves

Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in popularity, the amount of artist surging onto the scene is astonishing. It seems like every few days A new artist appears, or three to five new recordings get released, causing me to maintain extra “Bandcamp Funds” in order to support this community as much as I can. One of the new artist that I’ve really been impressed with is Rectory and with their brand of Haunted Dungeon Synth, it opens up another sub-genre of ambient-based synth music for the ages. Debut recording, ‘Ghost Stories’, contains four ethereal tracks of breathtaking Dungeon Synth that borderlines medieval tones and eerie dark ambient passages that transcends multiple genres. With songs such as “Waking At Midnight” and “This Room Always Feels So Sad”, there is a sense of gloomy malevolence at play that is hauntingly beautiful, yet seemingly damaging to the soul. I recently had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Rectory to find out how they got started, the story behind “Haunted Dungeon Synth”, and anything in between.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. It seems like Rectory quickly infiltrated the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few months. What were some of your main influences for getting started?

That’s very kind of you to say so; I still feel like no bugger has heard of us. Not that I resent that, of course! It’s a scene that’s absolutely exploding at the moment and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

When I first started writing, I only really knew the big names in Dungeonsynth: Burzum, Mortiis, Jim Kirkwood… I explored more as I went and found some really great stuff. I don’t know how much it inspired me directly, though. Musically, I’ve taken the biggest inspiration from film composers, especially Joseph Bishara, Danny Elfman, Fabio Frizzi and Charlie Clouser. 

2. According to your Bandcamp page, you label your music as “Haunted Dungeon Synth”. What sets your music apart from the typical Dungeon Synth music that we hear quite often these days?

I love the medieval things and the sword and sorcery things that some people do, but it isn’t right for me. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts and hauntings since I was about eight or nine years old. I find the subject completely fascinating. If you’re a believer, it’s great that there’s a whole world to explore that we don’t understand yet. If you’re a total sceptic, isn’t it fascinating that your brain can do these things and make you think you’ve experienced something paranormal?

So, the idea for Rectory began to crystallise, and it became a little project for me to work on while England was on lockdown over COVID-19. It’s already gone further than I expected it to. 

If you mean musically, I guess it’s just the general sound. Our music is the antithesis of Comfy Synth. Hell, call us “Discomfort Synth” if you want. The moment we press ‘record’ we are thinking about how we can unnerve the listener.

3. Do you think that “Comfy Synth” has also influenced Rectory’s sound, but in a way that‘s condescending to that sub-genre?

Not at all. There are a few Comfy Synth artists whose worn I enjoy – Tiny Mouse, for example, is wonderful – but it’s not something we’re interested in writing. There’s certainly no backlash or condescension on our part. I’m happy they’re doing their thing, and I’m happy people love it.
The genre is already incredibly small and anti-commercial. I don’t think that infighting or sneering at what other artists are doing is productive for anyone.

4. For the releases that you currently have out, there seems to be a ghostly theme to the music and album covers. What inspires you to write around this subject matter?

Lifelong obsession, really. I love reading true ghost stories, and I’ve been to seances and ghost hunts. I just love all aspects of it. I’ve seen and experienced enough stuff to make me believe that some of it is real. The name “Rectory” is taken from Borley Rectory, which was allegedly the most haunted house in Britain until it was destroyed. 

I also took a lot of inspiration from classic ghost stories by guys like M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Hope Hodgson. There is an atmosphere to those tales that I really wanted to capture. Not that I don’t love modern stuff, too! Adam Nevill is an absolute master. Garth Marenghi is a huge influence on us, too.

5. Do you provide your own artwork for the albums as well?

The cover for “Ghost Stories” is an interior photo of Borley Rectory. The cover of “There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard” is one I took, myself, of my Ouija board.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-stories

6. How important is the ambient/atmospheric aspect to your craft?

100%. Rectory is nothing without the ambience and atmosphere. That’s often where the song-writing starts.

7. Do you think you might venture out into the Dark Ambient arena some day?

Possibly. A few people have said that they consider Rectory to be more Dark Ambient than Dungeon Synth, already. It’s totally possible we could gradually evolve that way. Lustmord is a huge influence on what we do. His soundscapes are incredible.
Of course, if anyone has a horror film that needs scoring, that’s something we’d love to do.

8. Before Rectory, were you involved with any other musical endeavors? If so, how was the transition to playing/recording Dungeon Synth?

Yeah, I’m a punk musician. Self taught. I’ve been playing and writing stuff since I was about fourteen, with varying degrees of obscurity.

I have very little musical theory under my belt, so that, and learning to play the keyboard from scratch were the biggest challenges. It’s been something totally outside of my experience and comfort zone, but that’s a large part of what has made it so rewarding.

9. Cassette releases seem to be a big thing in the Dungeon Synth community. Do you plan on any physical releases of your recordings?

Yes, Sol Moribundo has released “Ghost Stories” on cassette.

I’m not a fan of the format at all, but enough people were interested that I set out to make it happen. Sol Moribundo are a small, start-up label, but they’ve been great to work with.

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

Some conversations have been had, but nothing is in the pipeline at present. 

11. Tell me about your recording/playing setup. Do you use a mix of analog and digital recording equipment?

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/track/there-was-a-man-dwelt-by-a-churchyard

12. Do you have any desire to play live or do you plan to stick to being a recording artist only?

No, I’m an old man, now. My live performance days are well and truly behind me. To be honest, I’m not sure DS ever translates well into a live environment. If Summoning can’t make it work live, what chance do the rest of us have?

Plus I think so much of “the Rectory experience” – if I may be permitted to talk like an abject fucking nonce for a moment – takes place inside the listener’s head, and I worry any visuals would distract from that.  

13. These days, how much do you rely on social media to spread the word (and music) of Rectory?

It’s the only way of doing it. The Dungeon Synth groups on Facebook are incredibly open minded and supportive, and there’s a few really good blogs out there. One of them wants to interview me, but I forget their name.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview and thanks for the music that you provide to this wonderful community. Do you have any final words for your fans that may be reading this interview?

Sure. The Rectory album is in production, and will be out as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s called “The Rattle of Dry Earth”. After that, I’ll be working on a World War II themed DS project as a quick break, which should be a lot of fun.

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/RectoryOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Xerxes The Dark Escalates Industrialized Tension On Monumental Dark Ambient Effort, ‘Final Crisis’

Anyone that knows me or follows my site, must know by now that Xerxes The Dark is probably my favorite Dark Ambient artist. Whether sketching out bleak, industrialized madness on his solo projects or lending his captivating production work to collaborations, XTD embodies the true, stark nature of Dark Ambient music. That being said, anytime there is a new XTD release – without hesitation – I’m ready to spend my hard earned money because I know it will be well worth the investment. ‘Final Crisis’ does not disappoint in the least bit and may be XTD’s darkest (and most ruthless) offering to date. To summarize the ‘Final Crisis’ listening experience, it’s like being embedded into a nightmare, or a relentless horror story where there is no escaping the agonizing terror of the unseen entities that haunts you.

Beginning the horrific ordeal is “The Hiding (Alternate Edit)”, with uneasy and ominous drones seeping into audio range while sinister static noises causes unrest. As the hollow sounds increase and tension builds, various soundscapes detail a malevolent mission of violence and dread. The listener is now locked into seventy two minutes of ambience filled with malicious intent. The intensity continues to build with “Antimatter Emergence”. Filled with industrialized drones that are accompanied by bizarre effects and field recordings, the minimalistic feel will easily increase all anxiety as the anticipation of lurking evil never seems to dissipate. The torment continues with “Parallel Disturbance”. If the abundance of screeches and unknown nuances weren’t enough to increase your blood pressure, the sudden blast – of what seems like – air brakes from a vehicle will definitely get your heart pumping. There is no escaping the unnerving soundscapes of the rainfall, traffic sounds, mixed with other unidentifiable noises to keep you on edge. A steady low end drone continues to play in the background as a storm races to the forefront of this track. There is a sense of ferocity as this near ten and a half minute nightmare displays a furious depth like no other. “The Leakage Between The Worlds” starts with a space ambient drone with a multitude of effects and soundscapes that gives an otherworldly feel. There are some excellent minimalistic moments on this track that are cold and dreary, with spots of inaudible narrations that are muffled and downright sinister sounding. “Crisis (Pt. 1 – Microscopic Black Holes)” immediately begins with an industrial feel as static materializes at a frantic pace. Vocal modulations are added, along with destructive soundscapes and field recordings. The impression of urgency can be heard, as all of these sounds are thrown together in perilous unison. Drones and synthesized tones increase in volume as the intensity reaches its peak. “Interaction” crystallizes from a somber drone that shifts in tone, as an industrial sample creates a harsh moment in the album. This chaotic sound ruptures into a loop and echoes from speaker to speaker before finally shifting into an all-out industrialized audible assault. “Crisis (Pt. 2 – Vacuum Bubbles)” continues down the path of deafening sounds as the synth modulations use various pitches and depths – especially in the beginning of this track. At times, there is a bit of distortion added to the drones, giving it a thicker, meaner tone as it accompanies some of the fiercest soundscapes and samples thus far. There is no rest for the weary, as bitter, severe noises wait around every corner. “The Hiding” is just as intense as the album opener but is a little more minimalistic at times. There are still periods of madness and mayhem as this original cut is just as menacing as the Alternate Edited version. The final track on the album is “Theory Of Nothing”. Displaying a great mix of dark and space ambience, there is a beautiful instrumental melody that is guided along with layers of clear, tonal synths. Unlike the other tracks on this recording, the soundscapes take a backseat (volume-wise) to the somber drones and instrumentation. What a genius move to close out such a dark and gruesome album with a brilliant track like this.

Xerxes The Dark continues his streak of releasing exceptional Dark Ambient albums, and has been doing so for the better part of fifteen years. Although he’s (lately) been devoting time to the downtemp/IDM project known as MOREGO, I’m glad to see that he still has the dark desire to continue releasing amazing albums such as ‘Final Crisis’ under the Xerxes The Dark moniker. This album is not for the faint of heart, nor one that you would probably want to fall asleep to – as you’ll sure to wake up sweating from a terror-filled nightmare. On the other hand, this album epitomizes what Dark Ambient is all about and is one of my favorite releases of this year thus far. If you like your Dark Ambient on the more sinister side, look no further than ‘Final Crisis’. Please support XTD and download this amazing album from the link below.

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://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com/album/final-crisis-24bit

Madame Swann Records Rare Compositions And A Few Original Tracks On Unprecedented Self-Titled Album

Although the origins of Dungeon Synth continue to be debated, there is no question that it’s influences date back centuries. From medieval-era composition to turn-of-the-century neo-classical arrangements, Dungeon Synth has taken great prestige in expanding on these magnificent musical cultures. Madame Swann has done something quite unique on their debut album, in that they’ve taken four previously written compositions from the early 1900’s – that have never been musically recorded – and have given them an everlasting audible experience. In addition, Madame Swann have composed two original tracks to add to this stellar recording, giving their personal stamp on this special album. In all, these six tracks flow with a sense of nostalgia with a minimalistic approach to instrument tracking.

Right from the start, the ominous quality of “Balbec Après I’Orage” shuffles through notes with haunting enthusiasm and presents a crystal-clear production that is even more haunting. Various synth effects present a retro feel throughout the track and it’s just so hard to imagine that this beautiful song was written around a hundred years ago, even though it sounds so up-to-date. “Nuit d’Octobre” is one of the original tracks written by Madame Swann and it fits in perfectly with the aesthetics of the other classical tracks on this album with regards to arrangement and melody beautification. In addition, the minimalistic approach provides such an eerie backdrop to go along with the minor keys that are played in such a masterful structure. “Captive” keeps the same sound, tone and timing as the previous tracks and it simply exudes a combination of neo-classical and retro synth layers to create a lavish sound. Next up is the delightfully toned, “Fugitive”. The production contains a huge wall-of-sound that slowly echoes to create a massive musical endeavor. A faint drone plays underneath a busy synth lead that reverberates a passion for classical compositions. “La Mort De Swann” is a standout track as it contains various sounds and effects not heard on any other track. From deep synth grumbles to high-pitched vibrato tones, this is a short eclectic piece that is too interesting not to be recorded for the first time in almost a century. The final track on the album is another Madame Swann original entitled “Prière”. This one features more of a dark ambient intro with mesmerizing narrations before diving into some serious medieval synth leads. After a few bars of this beautiful sound, it begins to build and layer with additional leads that play in the same style but toned down a bit, creating a really enthralling and adventurous track.

I really enjoy the concept of Madame Swann and the approach taken on this album was done with with extraordinary attention to detail. Containing two original tracks written by the artist and four tracks written by Jeanne Spitz (almost one hundred years ago) but never musically recorded, Madame Swann have released an amazing album of neo-classical/neo-medieval synth music that shouldn’t be pigeon-holed to just those two genres. From the arrangements, instrumentation, musicianship and production, this album presents an all-around wonderful listening experience. Please support Madame Swann and download this amazing album from the link below.

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://madameswann.bandcamp.com/releases