Dark Ambient, Synthwave And Noise Collide on Trajedesaliva’s Intelligent Offering, ‘Ultratumbra’

Sometimes, the best albums out there are the ones that haven’t been heard yet. There are many gems hidden away on bandcamp and often it’s like a diamond in the rough, searching for the one that offers pure cosmic bliss. Fortunately, Bandcamp is one of the best platforms for music these days – especially for obscure genres – so finding an album as impressive as ‘Ultratumbra’ by Trajedesaliva is certainly appeasing to these ears. Combining all of the elements that I love about esoteric music, ‘Ultratumbra’ delivers forty two minutes of musical euphoria that fuses Dark Ambient, noise, spoken word and retrospective synthwave. The modulations that prowl behind every corner are unexpected but are eagerly welcomed, as this album is supremely put together and most of all, enjoyable on multiple levels.

Sonic album opener, “Todo Era Blanco”, sounds like an immediate drift back into time when retro analog synths ruled the airways and the break of dawn demanded its own sound signature. This track builds in grand layers with a lot of reverberation to thicken the sound. The synths are clean without being crisp, like a morning fog clearing before a beautiful day. Spots of percussion can be heard throughout without going overboard and this is such a grand way to start this amazing album. “A Casa Por Las Vías” continues on the strengths of the first tracks with massive, elongated synths that are slightly muffled but concise in the mix. We also get our first listen of a spoken word bit (spoken in Spanish) and it sounds so bleak with the terrifying layer of noises and percussive elements happening in the background. Upon the completion of the spoken word element, there is a climatic shift in music as it builds up in devious fashion before collapsing into a beautiful and melodic synthwave track. “Familia Ferro” commences with a loud, constant tone, followed by a short spoken word piece. It immediately unfolds into harsh noise modulations that shake the foundation with its strident industrial intonations. Next up is the multi-faceted, “Arenas Calientes”. Beginning with a single keyboard chop and then quickly expanding into multiple layers before suddenly unfolding into a mechanized tone, this track goes through several pitch shifts and succeeds at altering ones mood from dark to anxious to downright maniacal. Toward the end, sharp whispers can be heard throughout, adding some mysticism to this already terrifying song. “Mamá Es Un Animal Morado” starts with a jolting tone, like a large turboprop airplane already in mid flight. However, other sound effects are introduced, creating a spacious melody and then spoken words take over. The track deviates from the harshness and turns into a somber affair and the spoken words continue to complete the calming nature of everything that is fused together up to this point. “Mammillaria Sempervivi” is another melodic affair with dreamy keyboard harmonies and a compelling bass line that’s adds a great bit of depth. The spoken words continue to tell their tale and then 80’s style keys and beats commence, adding yet another aspect to this incredibly diverse album. “Queremos Verte” maintains the keyboard harmonies of the last track but adds an extra layer of emotion with superior song writing and haunting production. Even the spoken words sound different in this track, as the narrator seems to be at ease or in a more comforting situation than previously. The final track on the album is “Ultratumbra” and it immediately begins with a line of spoken word before fusing into a harmonic keyboard composition that sounds straight out of the 80’s. This track is magnificently arranged and contains all of the elements that I love about Trajedesaliva. Although it starts out smooth and alluring, there is a middle section that begins to fill out with harsh noises and drum rhythms that’s simply infectious to listen to. This song is so wonderfully arranged, I just wish it would never end.

Although Trajedesaliva is a new artist for me, they’ve been around for over twenty years. It’s a travesty that I’m just now getting to know their craft but I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve been exposed to so far. From the retro compositions, nostalgic arrangements, well placed spoken word bits and great use of industrialized noise, ‘Ultratumbra’ contains everything I could ever ask for in an album. I highly recommend checking this one out so please click on the link below and support this amazing artist.

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Links:

https://trajedesaliva.bandcamp.com/album/ultratumba

Tir Brings A Cinematic Approach To An Ancient Time On ‘Persepolis’

This is not the first trip to The Dungeon In Deep Space for Tir, as I reviewed the spectacular offering, ‘Urd, Skuld & Verdandi’ back in 2019. That album was a quintessential element for the Dungeon Synth genre and one that (I feel) elevated Tir’s status as a driving force in the community. Fast forward to now – and several releases later – and we’re graced with another experience beyond comparison in, ‘Persepolis’. A fifty eight minute epic journey translated through beautifully crafted and cinematic synth music that transcends traditional Dungeon Synth settings. Prepare to be amazed as Tir takes you back in time, centuries before the darkness of the Medieval period and the somber essence that it foretold.

From the very first note of “Daemon Of Desert (Aži)”, an intense cinematic quality fills the air and increases as multiple synth effects and percussive elements provide a somber, yet melodic introduction to this intoxicating album. “Anahid’s Miracle” is a serene, melancholic anthem that plays a sorrowful tone while windy field recordings establish a scene of desolation and solitude. The beautiful choir-like sounds add an addictive resonance that go beyond the reach of any genre. “Summoning Alborz” is a slow starter but the natural soundscapes and enchanting instrumentation begin to take charge and will beckon the listener to dry lands and mystic occurrences. “Righteous Viraz” is a whimsical piece that is supremely memorable and the mix of high and low tones work amazingly well during the intro. Soon after, grandiose keys cry out in pain as somber melodies commence and present an emotional journey until the end of the track. “The Dragon King Raised An Army” completely contradicts the last track, as it’s eerie tone sets a dark path toward desolation. Haunting keys with a small amount of reverb works really well here and then suddenly – for the final minute – a lighter harmonic synth shows a glimmer of hope. “Mēnōg And Gētīg” begins with a bizarre synth effect that ultimately fused into an austere Medieval dirge, complete with rhythmic percussion and trance-like keys. “The Stone Thrown From Činwad Bridge (Extended)” starts as a beautiful ballad with lush instrumentation and a gentle arrangement. As this nine and a half minute track continues to progress, layers of alluring guitar chops fill the air with scenic beauty. A haunting ambience plays in the background, bringing a tinge of darkness to this otherwise charming song. As the guitars slowly fade, we are left with the grumbles of deep winds and enchanting soundscapes. “Sands In The Sky” is a gloomy Dungeon Synth effort with bells, orchestral movements and grainy production. However, half way through, crisp string sounds provide an element of surprise and intricately woven detail. “The Song Of The Cosmos Is Heard From Persepolis” is another Medieval masterpiece as it contains all of the elements that make it a stand out track. From the deep, baritone key arrangement to the ancient soundscapes and vocal effects, this track covers a large range of sounds to present its impressive composition. There is also a touch of synthwave to spice things up a bit. “The Rising Shadow Of Chaos” is one of my favorite tracks as it wastes no time getting to the point with its drum and synth audial attack. Although it’s very minimalistic, there is a dark groove and a terrifying sound that is suddenly amplified by the grotesque vocals at the end. I need to hear more of this! “Blood Red Desert” begins with a warm drone and some snappy instrumentation before settling into a Medieval anthem, worthy of multiple listens. “Welkin” is another beautiful ballad that has layers of well-crafted synth leads and several twists and turns to keep it eccentric and compelling. “Empire Of Stars” is a short, melodic piano piece that morphs into an amusing track with a full ensemble of instruments. Just as you get into the grove of this little jingle, it comes to an unfortunate but abrupt end. “Lost To The Shadows Of Memories” features expanded notes, as if this were being played in memory of a lost soul. I love how (as the song progresses) the elongated notes build in layers, almost creating a symphony of madness as the drums and backing keys play in solidarity. The final track on the album is “Forgotten Prophesy (feat. Varkana)” and it’s such a massive way to close out this spectacle from ancient times. With Tir’s passion for cinematic arrangements and Varkâna’s signature beats and effects, what can go wrong? I would actually love to hear these artists collaborate on a whole album, as this track is one of the pinnacles of ‘Persepolis’.

I continue to be impressed with Tir, as he constantly raises the bar with each release. Never one to settle for “just average”, Tir goes above and beyond to create an extravagant album each and every time and ‘Persepolis’ is no exception. From cinematic to whimsical, battle rhythms to ballads, Tir covers all of the bases in this fabulous expedition set in ancient times. In addition to that, he incorporates elements of synthwave, percussion, and a guest artist to round out this project that makes it such a compelling listen. I highly recommend checking out ‘Persepolis’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://tirofficial.bandcamp.com/album/persepolis

Eyre Transmissions XII – Interview with Dark Ambient / Necrochill Producer, Sumatran Black

These days, Bandcamp is my go-to platform for a wide assortment of music. I love how it’s given artists unlimited creativity and the ability to showcase their musical aptitude regardless of style, genre or other unconventional standards. One artist that demonstrates this capability is Sumatran Black. Not only is it the name of the labels flagship artist, but it also represents the Bandcamp page itself – Sumatran Black Records. This Dark Ambient/Necrochill page is also home to Black Box Memories and Ataşehir – two other fantastic creations of the Sumatran Black composer himself. The albums produced by Sumatran Black Records are some of my favorite in recent years and although each project is different, they bring a needed variety of memorable compositions to the dark electronic community that are eagerly welcomed. I recently had the opportunity to interview the composer behind the label to find out more about each project and what the future holds for Sumatran Black Records.

1. Thank you so much for this interview opportunity. I’m constantly amazed by the impressive and unique projects that you have going on with your Bandcamp page. Have you always had a vision to create multiple projects, covering an array of themes and sonic adventures?

I’ve always really enjoyed other artists who have released music under pseudonyms or side projects etc for example, I really love the Smackos project by Dutch artist Legowelt, and in terms of dark music I think the Lurker of Chalice project by Leviathan is a really good example of how using a different project name can open up a whole range of opportunities for musical expression.

To be honest when I started out, I didn’t really have any distinct vision or plan for either the music releases or the label. I just wanted to record some music after very long hiatus from having anything to do with music creation and just take it from there. I tend to believe that once you get the ball rolling on something artistically, it will often guide you in its own direction and you can kind of shape the overall ideas into something more focused and concrete. Which I think is an accurate description of what happened with the Sumatran Black Records label. As I began to take it more seriously and produce more music it was obvious there would have to be different names for different projects just to maintain a sense thematic clarity.

2. If I had to guess, I’d say that Sumatran Black was your flagship project. Was this your first endeavor in the Dark Ambient arena or was there something else before that?

Sumatran Black was the first.

3. Were you involved with any other musical endeavors prior to Sumatran Black? If so, what were they and what led you to Dark Ambient?

I’ve been involved in lots of projects before but most of my music endeavours previous to Sumatran Black involved writing music for theatre (Opera and Musical Theatre). Unfortunately despite my best efforts, nothing made it to the stage. I still have hopes to resurrect some of these ideas in the future.

With regards to my journey towards darker music and dark ambient, I guess my character helped steer me in that direction. And I should add that I wouldn’t really class myself as a purely Dark Ambient composer. I think what I’m trying to do is often less textural and less static in terms of movement than a great deal of Dark Ambient. I would also add that I’ve tried to avoid presenting my music with an overly polished sound (in terms of production) in general. Which is something that I would associate with a lot of Dark Ambient. Hence the term Necrochill. As the genre has become more popular through the good work of labels like Cryochamber and the inclusion of Dark Ambient music in mainstream video games, it seems that the Dark Ambient sound has become more homogeneous and less distinctive between artists. I want to avoid this.

Of course my music does have many elements that are common with Dark Ambient and I have no problem with it being categorised in those terms.

4. ‘A Taxonomy of Grief’ (by Sumatran Black) is one of my favorite Dark Ambient experiences of the year so far. Can you tell us a little bit about the Necrotrilogy and how this album came about?

The Necrotrilogy is a trilogy of releases under the name Sumatran Black designed to be thematically and musically linked, and to introduce the audience to my concept of necro chill. Which is essentially just a funny name to categorise my main musical interest which is dark music that is cathartic, emotional and has strong elements of lo fi and some elements of the 2nd wave of black metal necro sound but reimagined in a more ambient context.

‘A Taxonomy of Grief’ is the third and final part of the Necrotrilogy. Musically it’s supposed to be a summation of the sound of the previous two albums. Thematically it’s the most personal of the trilogy and is in the simplest of terms an album about loss and recovery.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/a-taxonomy-of-grief

5. What are the other albums that make up the remainder of the Necrotrilogy?

Part 1: In the Dread

Part 2: Fathomz

Part 3: A Taxonomy of Grief

Not part of the trilogy: A Page of Madness Soundtrack, Elegy for a Lost Cosmonaut.

6. Do you already have plans for any upcoming Sumatran Black albums?

Not an album but I have an EP ready to go into the next stage of recording. The demos are complete, and the EP is a spiritual successor to Elegy for a Lost Cosmonaut. Its working title is Broken Timelines.

7. Let’s shift gears to Black Box Memories. Another stellar project that combines Dark Ambient and lo-fi electronica. I’m so intrigued by this project but how did it come about?

Usually when I’m in the final stages of a project in terms of mixing and mastering I tend to get bored of listening to the tracks over and over again and so I often do some recordings in the middle of this process just to give myself some variation almost like a palate cleanser if you will. And so when I was finishing off In the Dread (which took a long time), I had a lot of other tracks I had been working on which would not fit that project but I thought was strong enough musically to stand alone in a music project in their own right. Those tracks would form ‘Transmissions’ the first Black Box Memories album.

8. Although the Black Box Memories recordings are very modern, they have an excellent retro vibe to them as well. Is this a sound that you were planning for or did it just come about through experimentation?

I don’t really know where the sound came from first and foremost it was initially probably a reaction to the sound of In the Dread. That album is very claustrophobic and employs some quite extreme audio processing and I guess Black Box Memories is sonically just more open and less demanding of the listener. And as I said before musical projects often dictate their own outcomes. So in the case of Black Box Memories the first demos had a very nostalgic and lo fi vintage sound to them and so as more tracks will created they became influenced by the initial demos. I think also at the time I had access to more sounds, I’d upgraded my system and invested in some 80s retro synth clones and my thinking was how can I create a musical idea that uses the nostalgic sounds of my musical youth but recontextualises them in a kind of more dark arena. if you can imagine how vaporwave manipulates old samples in a way to produce something that has a completely different emotional flavour. I thought maybe that would be possible with say for example a Yamaha DX7 VST. Could I take a very recognisable electric piano sound and then sonically manipulate it in a way that sounds even more vintage/lo fi – almost like a musical exaggeration – and then use this sound design in more dark and almost psychedelic musical compositions.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/this-loving-presence

9. On ‘This Loving Presence’, you use a lot of narrative samples – which blend perfectly with the arrangements. Is there an underlying story with these, or are they used to create a particular ambience for the listening experience?

I guess ‘This Loving Presence’ was greatly influenced by my mood and habits at the time of composition which involved lots of late nights and lack of sleep and watching YouTube videos to try and remedy the situation. Most of the narrative samples are heavily edited ASMR style video quotes. I took those snippets of dialogue and then edited them in a way that would create sentences that had a very sharp and poignant emotional resonance immediately.

10. Now, I definitely have to bring up Ataşehir, because out of all of your projects, this one is probably my favorite. This project is a bit more minimalistic and desolate that your others; what were some of the influences for creating this one?

Although it probably sounds nothing like it, the main influence at the beginning of the Ataşehir project was the work of Stars of the Lid and also GAS. Probably my two favourite drone and ambient artists.

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-time-comes

11. I reviewed 2020’s ‘AVM’ album and I loved the theme that was represented within. Are all Ataşehir albums created with a concept in mind?

I think that I can safely say that pretty much every album and EP I’ve recorded (not only Ataşehir) has been what would broadly be described as a concept album. Sometimes I give an explicit explanation in the liner notes, sometimes the concept is hidden in the album and song titles. 

I have given a previous interview where I go into detail about the Ataşehir project https://ambientmusic.com/interviews/sumatran_black

12. On the latest album, ‘When The Time Comes’, the drone work is absolutely fantastic and has a wide range of melody in it. How did you go about creating these sonic soundscapes?

I think with Ataşehir I always have this overriding influence of abstract expressionism and then I’m always trying to find ways of manifesting that musically. I was lucky with ‘When the Time Comes’ because I found a very particular VST that I used throughout the whole process. I won’t name it because I don’t want to give all my secrets away but the person who designed the instrument is aware of the fact that it was used for the entire album.

Maybe I can just describe the overall composition technique that was used. Most of the tracks consist of maybe three or four drone layers that are intersecting with each other to create a musical foundation – and this is the drone element. Then on top of that the melodic element you refer to are improvisations with a synth or a guitar. These improvisations are cut and edited and looped in an asymmetric way to create kind of melodic tension across the pieces.

13. I love the song titles that you come up with for this project. Do they have a particular meaning, and how do you come with those?

I usually take a long time with song titles I really enjoy that aspect of creating music and it’s something I have a lot of fun with. In the case of the album ‘When the Time Comes’, the titles definitely all have a meaning and maybe I can try and clarify that. The album is supposed to describe a near future or alternative future Istanbul after some strange cataclysmic event. Therefore, the song titles refer to numerous locations in the city but some of those locations are real and some of them are imagined future locations. So, for example, the Istanbul Canal does not exist but it might do in the near future. Also, Levent 4.2 does not exist, but Levent 4 exists. If anyone is interested, on the bandcamp album notes I have included a location guide which kind of explains everything.

14. I recently became familiar with one of your older projects, Haram Tapes. These albums are a lot of fun and seem to defy genre limitations. What makes this project so different?

The main reason that project is so different is because it involves two people. Myself and my collaborator See Safari. It would take a long time to go into detail about all the concepts and ideas behind Haram Tapes, but here is a recent interview we did.

15. Are there plans for more Haram Tapes releases?

Yes, we are discussing the concept for the next album at the moment.

https://haramtapes.bandcamp.com/album/scorpions-fountains

16. Speaking of “releases”, do you have any physical releases (I.e. CD, Cassette, LP..) of any of your projects?

Yes, there are cassettes available for Haram Tapes. Logistically, it hasn’t been possible for me to produce physical releases for Sumatran Black Records. However, it’s my plan that all Sumatran Black Records will have physical versions available from now on. This will begin with a new dungeon synth project I’m currently working on. I also plan to slowly but surely add physical releases to the entire back catalogue.

17. Do you have a home studio in which you record and produce your work?

Yes I do. It’s quite minimal and now I also have made it portable. Before all my music used to be created in my home studio desk setup with big monitors etc but recently I’ve tried to do all my initial work just on a laptop so I can be portable add more flexible with my workspace. ‘When the Time Comes” and “This Loving Presence” were recorded and mixed almost entirely on a small laptop with headphones and they were only moved to my larger studio area (the big computer as it were) during the mastering process.

18. What is your gear setup like? Do you have a preference of analog equipment over digital (VST’s etc..)?

I tend to avoid talking about gear and setups too much because I’d like to encourage all musicians to just use whatever they have available. You don’t need expensive analogue gear you don’t need the latest DAW, you just need ideas and some dedication. the first Sumatran Black album was recorded on GarageBand with no third party VSTs for example.

But to answer your question I really do love both analogue and digital but my priority is practicality and pragmatism. So, I can tell you at this moment I own two or three very good analogue synthesisers but they’re not in the same country as my studio (and not one note from them has appeared on any of my records). I’m doing everything in the box just using vsts because that’s what I have available. I’m planning to build something more substantial in the near future with the aim of implementing some more outboard gear.

19. Again I appreciate this opportunity for the interview and I’m always looking forward to new music by you. Do you have any departing thoughts for your fans that may be reading this?

Thanks for listening and reading. If you got this far, please consider following Sumatran Black Records on Bandcamp as this is my main hub for all news and info about new releases. New Dungeon Synth project coming soon.

Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com

https://www.sumatranblackrecords.com

https://www.facebook.com/sumatranblack/

https://youtube.com/user/reevespeterson

https://haramtapes.bandcamp.com

Dronny Darko & Ajna Are On A Quest For Bleak Supremacy With ‘Radioactive Immersion’

For the past couple of years, the Cryo Chamber label has been on quite a roll with releasing an impressive stint of collaboration albums. The Dark Ambient genre is already a special musical environment and on many occasions, it’s easy to identify certain artists based on their style. So, when these collaboration albums are released, I look forward to the fusion of the various styles of some of my favorite artists to see what kind of sonic concoction they have in store. In the case of this review, we have Dronny Darko – the King of dismal drones teaming up with Ajna – the majestic arbiter of ominous soundscapes to produce the enigmatic offering, ‘Radioactive Immersion’. This is not the first time these two Dark Ambient Titans have collaborated and hopefully it won’t be the last, as this is atmospheric modulation at its best.

Like music from a sinister movie soundtrack, “Anomalous Gravity Distortion” blasts out an array of malevolent effects to set a devious mood, providing a platform for a darkened endeavor. Haunting drones reverberate cautiously while a cluster of soundscapes create a claustrophobic vacuum in which there is no escape. “Bottomless Gorge” continues the bleak excursion through abandoned corridors and empty chambers of energy. Sudden bursts of pulsating modulations create a sense of dread as isolation becomes the driving factor behind the minimalistic drones and pads. “Electromagnetic Pulse” commences with a terrifying drone that crescendos from the depths of a radioactive inferno. As the fiery field recordings blaze on, nominal soundscapes keep the listener in suspense while subtle variance in the music is sparse but affective. “Uranium 235” begins with the crackles of positive radioactive energy before gravitating to a dense drone, combined with creepy synth effects and jarring sounds that are right out of a nightmare. Narrations can be heard deep in the mix but they are inaudible as a result of the mass decimation caused by the preceding, disastrous events. “Plutonium Clouds (feat. protoU)” begins with a lighter drone and ominous soundscapes that are a result of the fallout from the mass contamination that obliterated everything in its wake. There is a somber vibe to the synth arrangements and it almost has a Space Ambient sound. “Mutated DNA” starts with an eerie drone that builds and collapses over and over again, while various soundscapes and effects provide a sense of disparity. The sound bits are totally random, but fit in with the theme of the album and help describe what may be happening next – the creation of a new horrific being out of the ashes of an unprecedented nuclear fallout. The final track on the album is the near twelve and a half minute long, “Radioactive Immersion”. Instead of starting with a drone, it sounds more like a pack of crawling insects, scurrying for cover as an undisclosed disturbance is in the air. An assortment of field recordings and synth effects are the focus in this track as it’s primary objective is to create a dark scene of impiety and post-apocalyptic dread. About halfway through, sonic drones add a celestial balance as if the dawn of a new beginning were on the horizon. These ethereal tones fade in and out of the mix several times as if relieving tension of a desolate nature. By the end of the track, the synth effects have faded and all that is left is the oscillating drones.

‘Radioactive Immersion’ is an aural journey to an abandoned nuclear reactor, haunted by past indiscretions and the lackluster efforts of mankind. This album is dark & deep and the music really submerges the listener into a toxic wasteland of tarnished energy and the grim outcome of its horrific meltdown. Dronny Darko and Ajna are not only the best Dark Ambient producers to convey this energy, but their masterful efforts set the bar pretty high for collaboration albums. Please click on the link below and download this intense release immediately.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/radioactive-immersion

Multi-Genre Synth Extraordinaire, Jenn Taiga, Cultivates A Nostalgic Collection Of Deft Anthems On ‘Lunar Nocturnes And Esoteric Incantations’

If you’ve listened to Dungeon Synth, Berlin School or any style of Synth music in the past few years, then Jenn Taiga needs no introduction. For all others, well, you’ve been missing out on one of the most talented musicians across a broad spectrum of genres. Last years ‘Plight’, was in my Top Ten list for synth album of the year and remains one of my favorite synth albums of recent years. As time and space progress, I find myself anticipating new releases by my favorite artists – Jenn Taiga included. Earlier this month saw the release of ‘Lunar Nocturnes And Esoteric Incantations’, a collection of six exquisite synth songs that embrace a world of retro darkness and euphoric bliss.

Album opener, “Six Of Swords” first appeared on last years ‘Apostles Against Hegemony, Vol. I: Transitive Properties’ compilation and it was one of my favorite songs from that huge assortment of impressive tunes. Beginning with a dreamy arrangement that slowly builds with haunting leads and cosmic sound effects, this track will surely generate a hypnotic state for the listener and prepare them for the mesmerizing characteristics that gracefully infiltrate the remainder of the album. “Strength” has a beautiful (but mild) Berlin School backing arrangement that is completely lenitive and soothing, while layers of concordant synths provide a rollercoaster of emotive vibes that are unmatched in their scope of memorable influence. Although this track is five minutes in length, I wish that it lasted another ten minutes or so. After a short nostalgic intro on “King Of Swords”, we are treated with a hefty dose of conventional, Berlin School patterns that are soon combined with an ominous arrangement of swaying synth leads and celestial soundscapes that are otherworldly and reminiscent of 70’s retro Space Rock/Synth music that popularized the genre several decades ago. “Justice” is the shortest track on the album at just under three and a half minutes long. However, it’s a monstrous synth piece filled with melody and tasty backing arrangements, making this compact offering a delightful listen. “Braziers Are Burning” commences with a grueling sound, like a distorted warning alarm terrifying an unsuspected community. After that startling lead in, majestic synth offerings come into being and provide a mystical journey of harrowing cadence, cinematic effects and layers of sonic resonance that reveals one of Jenn’s most complete compositions to date. The final symphonic piece on this mesmerizing album is “…As Our Offerings Rise To The Heavens”. At just under nine and a half minutes, it’s the longest track on the album and is an epic ending to this modern-day trip down memory lane. It’s starts with a somber synth fill that sways of lush movements. At just over two minute in, Berlin School melodies permeate the audial channels and we find ourselves falling deep into another legendary excursion. The retro synth patterns are simply amazing and this track is like a continuous build-up to a never ending story. There are several layers of harmony that can be heard in a couple of spots that are hypnotic and could be considered the transcendent soundtrack to a trance-like state of mind. As you continue to ingest the enchanting rhythms of this track, it suddenly fades into the black, leaving you wanting more.

For me, Jenn Taiga is one of the ultimate musicians in the world of synth compositions. Never afraid to venture out beyond a single genre, Jenn Taiga pulls from a wide array of musical aspects to create a sound of her own. Although there is a huge amount of influence from retro synth styles, it’s the polished, modern take on electronic song writing that makes this (and other Jenn Taiga albums) stand out. Whereas ‘Plight’ was in my Top Ten synth album of 2020, there is no doubt that ‘Lunar Nocturnes And Esoteric Incantations’ will be in my Top Ten list for 2021. If you’ve not heard this mind-blowing album yet, please click on the link below and relish in the greatness.

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://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/lunar-nocturnes-and-esoteric-incantations

Sphäre Sechs Takes Flight On A Celestial Adventure With ‘Beta Pictoris’

Of all the ambient sub-genre’s, Space Ambient is without a doubt my favorite. There is something about the fusion of warm & dark drones and layers of cosmic soundscapes that I find completely captivating. Whenever I’m in the mood for such deeply atmospheric occurrences, there are a few artists that I can always count on for those undeniable sonic excursions and one of them is Sphäre Sechs. On their latest otherworldly offering, ‘Beta Pictoris’, they offer seven tracks of Exoplanet inspired modulations that are more than just a junket through deep space, but a mission through spectacular visuals told by supreme synth arrangements and articulate improvisations.

“Planetesimal Debris” commences with soothing, warm drones, like a space ship drifting through the outer reaches of a familiar solar system just before exploration begins into the realm of deep space. Cosmic soundscapes accent randomly as if vague transmissions become more distant and unclear. An accretion of synth effects begin to produce a thicker sound as the expedition boundaries become broader. I love how the jolting signals continue to play out in the background, increasing in strength but decreasing in clarity. This ten and a half minute opening journey is exactly what’s needed to create a celestial mindset for the remainder of this captivating album. “Doppler Spectroscopy” begins with an alluring drone that has a slight industrial edge to it. The spacious reverb effect really gives that feeling of floating in the depths of pitch black space, almost motionless, while random particles of space dust fly by at a blistering speed. These drones are layered so perfectly that you’ll loose track of time while lapsing into the intensity of its structure. “Seeking The Infinite” starts with a single drone and a variety of peculiar notes being played. A slight crescendo happens at various times, while the keys & pads create a cosmic sound of interstellar adventure. There is mystery and buildup in this track, as if a dark force is lurking around every corner and avoidance is creating an anxiety that continues to build until the end. “Collapsing Cloud” is my favorite track on the album as this is the point where things begin to turn dark and the drones start to sound quite menacing. As if the constant meander through space wasn’t enough, a sinister plot begins to develop as cosmogonal soundscapes establish an eerie sensation of doom and imminent catastrophic failure. The intense use of reverb continues to build an outer realm of darkness and horror and it doesn’t get much better than this. “Infrared Emission” is the longest intonation on the album at almost eleven minutes in length, and it’s an ethereal journey with alluring drones and consoling soundscapes that are extremely hypnotizing from start to finish. The sound of wind blowing is an added surprise, making this another standout performance. “Exosolar” begins with eerie effects that resonate abruptly in a horrific fashion. With piercing drones layered in a way that oscillates through the upper registers of the sound spectrum, this must be a true representation of what unexplored space must be like – creepy and desolate. The final excursion on this deep space adventure is, “Unstable Orbit”. Deranged effects place an incredible spin on the ominous drones as they continue to intensify and increase with electrifying resilience. Slight variations of synth modulations create dismal patterns of haunting fills and abrasive undertones. Whereas the album opened with warm colors, it definitely ends with a bleak performance, that is astounding nonetheless.

Sphäre Sechs continues their streak of masterful Space Ambient performances with ‘Beta Pictoris’. Although one of the most minimalistic sub-genres of the ambient community, this album epitomizes an array of soundscapes and dream-like drones to produce a celestial atmosphere that needs no words for explanation or understanding. This is an amazingly meditative album and I highly recommend it, especially for those that are seeking a hypnotic experience through sonic modulations. Click on the link below and download this fascinating album.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/beta-pictoris

Pafund Exemplifies The Old School Dungeon Synth Sound With, ‘Forbandelsen’

I consider Pafund a Jack-Of-All-Trades Dungeon Synth artists. Whether it’s the pounding rhythms of Medieval battle hymns, the sultry sounds of Renaissance era synth arrangements or gothic undertones that provide a ghastly atmospheric presence, Pafund is the quintessential composer with a firm grasp on the genre as a whole. On latest release ‘Forbandelsen’, the musical fortitude has increased to an expounding radiance that shows why Pafund is the Keeper of the Stronghold. Teaming up with Voices Of The Ainur to produce a special edition “enhanced” cassette release, the lo-fi resonation of this masterful collection of tunes sounds as authentic as ever and is sure to take the listener back in time, on a journey of pugnacious quarrels and darkened skies.

Album opener, “Gammel Trolddom I” begins with an excerpt that literally sounds like someone is being thrown into the depths of an ancient dungeon. Suddenly, majestic keys begin to flow and attune to a melodic pattern that depicts an intense and austere disposition. Layers of haunting synths and background attenuations begin to conform to the bleakness of Medieval skies and the transformation to dark ancient times seem almost complete. “En Søgen Efter Ære” commences with a soothing string arrangement before bursting into a battle-like composition, complete with balanced percussion and layers of synth effects that encourage triumph and victory. Next up is the enchanting narrative, “Ruinernes Hvisken”. As one of the most cinematic tracks on the album, this one is overflowing with wondrous synth effects – expanding to genres beyond Dungeon Synth – while maintaining a solid foundation in Medieval-based compositions. The drums are particularly exciting, as they are upbeat throughout the track and have a strong presence in the mix. More along the lines of a forest synth track, “Visioner Af En Anden Fortid” opens with alluring keyboard affects and an ethereal backing synth that provides a solid foundation from start to finish. Maintaining a steady, celestial tone throughout, this track has a trance-like quality that is easy to get lost in. “Gammel Trolddom II” begins with a gloomy synth intro that builds into a bleak but tenacious intonation that has both synthwave and Neo-classical influences. It continues to build into obscurity and the drum parts seem to play a minor (but important) role this time around. “En Kamp Mod Forbandelsen” starts with a heavy drum pattern and airy synths before leading into a whimsical arrangement, showing even more of a musical diversity than ever before. After a few minutes the reverberations become more grandiose, as organ effects begin to play in unison with the mischievous keys. The track ends with a barrage of percussive patterns before finally falling silent. The final track on this ceremonious album is, “Hvor Klipperne Møder Havet”. Consisting of a funereal orchestral arrangement, this is a soothing and serene way to end an album that was – at times – aggressive and intense.

I’d like to take a few minute to talk about the immaculate cassette quality of this album. Released on the incredibly meticulous, Voices Of The Ainur label, this is one of the highest quality cassette releases I’ve ever seen. From the superb slip case, detail-oriented j-card, and the pro-labeled cassette with the artist name and song titles etched on it, this is as good as it gets. You’d be hard pressed to find quality like this in a cassette release – not only in the music, but with the physical material as well. It’s detail like this that makes Voices Of The Ainur stand out amongst the rest. An absolutely stunning job for this cassette and I highly recommend grabbing one of these gems as soon as they go on sale.

As for the music, ‘Forbandelsen’ is another spectacular Pafund album and I continue to be impressed as to how much effort goes into each release. Although, this is your typical lo-if Dungeon Synth recording, the production effort is by no means low quality. Everything is stellar about this album, from the writing, arrangements, instrumentation to the production and physical release elements. I highly recommend checking out ‘Forbandelsen’, so click on the links below and indulge in the cassette release as well as the digital download, you won’t regret it.

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Links:

https://pafund.bandcamp.com/album/forbandelsen

https://voicesoftheainur.bandcamp.com/album/vota-012-forbandelsen-2

Inoriand Returns With Another Winter Synth Extravaganza Aptly Titled, ‘Life Frozen’

It’s been nearly sixteen months since we’ve heard any great tunes from the Eldest Gate Records Bandcamp page. Once thriving with life, as multiple projects routinely released one amazing album after another, those monumental occasions have grown scarce as only Inoriand released a single album in 2020. However, now back from the frozen dead (for lack of a better phrase), Inoriand has returned with a Dark Ambient/Winter Synth masterpiece in a single track called, ‘Life Frozen’. Now, I’m not sure if this is a continuation of winter themed albums, like 2020’s, ‘A World Frozen’, or a bleak double-entendre for how the COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the entire world – perhaps both. At any rate, this near thirty one minute long track is exceptionally written and may be one of my favorite releases under the Inoriand brand.

Although the overall theme for the album is the cold, austere atmospherics of winter, there is a particular warmness that infects this monumental track. It’s as if the harshness of winter is slowly fading and the crystallized water is beginning to thaw, paving the way for a new season. As “Life Frozen” commences with droning keys and a gentle transition between notes, there is an overall vibe of tranquility and quietness that presents the notion of the chilling landscape chronicled in this song, has been a path less traveled for the duration of the winter months. An elegant keyboard melody begins to play at around the three minute mark and remains dominant for the majority of the track. Various soundscapes and effects are also introduced, creating a hypnotizing scene of serenity. At around the ten minute mark, slightly enhanced modulations bring a darker color to the track, representing an extreme isolation from society, as the ice continues to melt at a leisurely pace. At almost the eighteen minute mark, the track shifts gears again, bringing back a version of the original keyboard melody that was so predominant at the beginning. Maintaining a constant drone in the background, this portion of the track is well composed and almost trance-like, as the listener – by this point – will have a great view of an untouched winter landscape that seemingly reaches a utopian state as each second passes. With just six minutes remaining, another slight shift occurs with the addition of haunting effects with the drones becoming a bit louder in the mix. The climax of the track (and winter) has passed and the dawn of a new season is inevitable as the album ends in majestic winter synth fashion.

I’m really pleased that Inoriand has graced us with a new album of exalted, winter synth. One of the great artists of this sub-genre, Inoriand always creates a captivating landscape of musical textures and haunting ambience and it’s so easy to get lost in the compositions that are released. ‘Life Frozen’ is the perfect example of all of these elements working together to form the ultimate platform for a dormant, wintery escape. Eldest Gate Records continues their run of releasing premium music and Inoriand is without a doubt my favorite act from the label. If you’re into winter synth with elements of dark ambience, look no further than ‘Life Frozen’. Continue to support this wonderful label & artist and click on the link below to download this superb album.

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Links:

https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com/album/life-frozen

Gavella Glan Summons Medieval Forebodings On Dungeon Synth Debut, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’

One of my favorite sites to monitor for new and upcoming releases is the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Creating some of my most cherished Dark Ambient and synth-based releases of the past few years, Joseph Mlodik has a knack for cultivating neural sounds through various projects such as Noctilucant, Sonic Oscillations and my personal favorite, House Of The Maker. Although these projects are firmly based in the realm of Dark Ambient, they each explore various audial modulations, broadening the spectrum for his magnificent releases. Earlier this year, the Noctilucant catalog (and sound scope) was aggrandized further with the release of his first-ever Dungeon Synth album, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’ under the moniker of Gavella Glan. Containing ten tracks of ambient based fantasy synth music, this album is a magnificent debut in a genre full of unlimited potential.

The ambient influences are apparent on enigmatic album opener, “The Calm Before The Storm”. There are plenty of field recordings and obscure soundscapes to propel the listener back to an ancient time, preparing them for the Medieval campaigns that lay ahead. Every so often, a dreamy synth lead will add a sense of peace and tranquility, as the sound effects continue to carry the story. Calmly leading into “Echoes Of The Past”, we’re greeted with lush vocals and synth harmonies that continue down the path of equanimity. As if that wasn’t serene enough, the soothing sounds of gentle waves crashing on a shoreline are added and maintain repose until the end of the track. The next song, “Beyond Hill And Dale”, is a relaxing, yet whimsical tune with random bits of distant laughter and a variety of instrumental effects. Although just a couple of minutes long, this is a beautiful piece that fits right in with the rest of the album. “The One Atop The Mountain” commences with a cracking fire and a soft ambient tone before fusing into a noble synth melody, suffused with layers of harmony and trance-like modulations. I love how the mild use of discordant notes change the atmosphere of this track and the spirit of this arrangement is one of my favorites on the album. “The Oxenfurt Drunk” begins with a quick narrative clip that is loud and crisp in the mix and if you’re not expecting it, you’ll probably jump at first listen. As the narration firmly belts out, “I’m here to talk about the contract”, you’ll be fully participating in the audial essence of the music that begins right after. From ambitious to whimsical, this track goes through several atmospheric changes and is a strong contender for the most cinematic track on the album. “A Story Night Of Arcane Hexes” starts with softly played synth leads and a hint of a strange commotion in the background. Key leads and haunting vocals are reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack while a multitude of dangers lay ahead as the song is filled with evil sounds, firing blasts and obscure melodies that paint a bleak scene of destruction. “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues” dabbles in the synthwave arena while staying firmly planted in the cinematic Medieval Synth genre. Elongated synth leads combined with dark, oppressive soundscapes and field recordings provide an extremely textural composition with the occasional subtlety to keep it pertinent with the rest of the album. “Child Of The Elder Blood” is a dreamy arrangement that combines pastoral synth leads and melancholic drones. It’s as if you’re having an out-of-body experience and this track is maintaining a trajectory to propel you to another plane. This is an amazing piece and another one of my favorites. “The Path Of Warriors” is more on the lines of a traditional Dungeon Synth song with lo-if synth effects, combined with soft, flowing winds and a beautiful backing synth arrangement. From chirping birds, a warrior drawing his sword to an overall peaceful setting, this is another outstanding track and is sure to gain multiple listens. The final track on the album is the epic, “The Lord Of Undvik”. At almost eleven and a half minutes Lin length, it’s the longest track on the album and the most diverse. Beginning with the usual field recordings and soundscapes, an ominous drone carries forth in the background and flows persuasively from side to side, as it fuses into layers of ghastly synth leads and battle-like soundscapes, as if a deranged outcome was suddenly bestowed upon an unlikely kingdom. This haunting track concludes with devilish laughter and dark ambient-like drones and a perplexing end to this fantastical story.

I’m so glad that the Noctilucant mastermind decided to venture out and try his hand at Dungeon Synth. Not only is it a highly impressive album, but it showcases quite a story as well. There is adventure, cinematic music, a daring mix of genres and an entertainment value that will definitely keep this album in my play list for a long time to come. I highly recommend checking out this amazing album as well as all the other incredible albums on the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Please click on the link below and download “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues “ by Gavella Glan.

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Links:

https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/a-silent-vigil-for-oncoming-plagues

Hilyard Unveils Another High-Caliber Drone Excursion With ‘Division Cycle’

There is a reason why Cryo Chamber is the premiere label for cinematic, dark ambient music, as they consistently release stellar albums on a continual basis. Even artists such as Hilyard – that release other albums independently – seem to put out his best work under the leading label in the genre. ‘Division Cycle’ is no exception and it’s slowly becoming one of my favorite Dark Ambient releases of they year. Not only does it excel in drone modulations, but the cinematic quality is stellar and creates an addictive combination of mesmerizing tunes and emotional concepts, that demands multiple listens. Whereas 2018’s ‘Furthermore’ was a masterclass in Space Ambience, ‘Division Cycle’ is an exploration into an anatomical realm of grand design.

Lead off track, “Division Cycle” is heavy on the soundscapes in the beginning while a sustainable drone slowly builds. Synth effects provide a bit of melody while the trance-like forces maintain a powerful timbre. After several minutes, the track quietly (and slowly) descends into darkness, providing a dynamic introduction to the remainder of the album. Next up is the mesmerizing, “Equal Segments”. Not only is this my favorite song on the album, it is probably my favorite Dark Ambient song of the year so far. The layers of drones are extremely thick and they are positioned in such a way that emotions can be felt from their reverberations. A couple of minutes in, synth pads create a beautiful melody that is not only captivating, but equally serene. Although this track is just over six minutes long, I wish it were about fifteen or twenty minutes in length, in order to sustain that mindless state. “Of Hatred And Wrath” is an excellent follow on track as it continues the calming nature of the previous track, but adds a bit of depth and darkness to it as well. The flow of this song is so smooth and haunting, you’ll not want it to end, as it’s inductive of an out-of-body experience. Subtle soundscapes portray an ominous escape, but the over arching theme is relaxation of the mind and spirit. “Altars Of Warflesh” commences with a malevolent drone and theme-worthy soundscapes, as mischievous activity seems perpetual. The drones grow louder and closer as if destruction is imminent, but consoling synths & pads play dismal melodies that add to this daring adventure. “Feed The Earth” is another track of consoling drones but this time complimented by ghostly vocals. There is something eerie about this track that will leave the listener in total awe and unnerved at the same time. This is probably my second favorite track on the album and I could listen to this one over and over again and feel several types of ways with each listen. “Roots And Bones” begins with maniacal field recordings and minimalistic soundscapes over quiet albeit drifting drones. It’s as if you’re floating in a field of nothingness but headed slowly to a destination of importance, however as you get closer to the end, it seems to drift further away. The power of this music speaks in volumes with the variances of emotions that are created and observed with each listen. “Heartwood Reverie” contains bleak drones that leisurely builds in layers, while providing a stable platform to transform the mental state to another dimension. This is one of the most minimalistic tracks on the album, but it’s extremely alluring and conforms to the rest of the album perfectly. “Abandoned The Ramparts” initiates with ghastly soundscapes that fade into a spacey drone with a soft water-like field recording in the background. As the field recording dissipates, the drones become more existent and remain consistently hypnotizing until the completion of the track. The final song on the album is “To The Warmth Of Pyres (feat Dronny Darko & ProtoU)” and it’s an immaculate way to close out this impeccable album. Beginning with soothing field recordings and soundscapes, layers of synths & pads start to release audial tension as an audible dreamscape begins to unfold. The superb collaboration of these artists can be felt in each elongated note as a quest for solace and darkness unravels. So adventurous, yet remaining calm and pretentious, this is such an amazing track to close out the album as it properly summarizes the approach of all of the previous tracks.

Hilyard’s second album on the Cryo Chamber label is much different from his initial offering, but it speaks in volumes of the type of artist he is. Whether it’s lighter ambient (that is mostly presented on his own Bandcamp page), Space Ambient, or the haunting drones of ‘Division Cycle’, Hilyard is a seasoned ambient artist that has the skills needed to release countless cinematic adventures. Not only is the cover of ‘Division Cycle’ a proper representation of the album, but the music contained within is some of the best Dark Ambient/Drone music released this year so far. I highly recommend checking out this album so please click on the link below and support Cryo Chamber and ‘Division Cycle’ by Hilyard.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/division-cycle