Not Dungeon Synth Nor Dark Ambient But…Fifteen Albums From 2021 That (for me) Transcended Greatness!!

Although The Dungeon In Deep Space is primarily focused on Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth, I take great pride in the fact that my love for music has no borders. I’m a life-long metal fanatic but there are so many more genres that I love and respect. Here are some of my favorite albums of 2021 and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

1. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

https://spiritboxofficial.bandcamp.com

A lot of hype surrounded the release of Spiritbox’s debut album ‘Eternal Blue’. Prior to its release, quite a few video singles were released that catapulted the band into a much bigger realm. Was the album worth the wait? Absolutely!! With an impeccable blend of djent metal and commercial anthems with a slight pop vibe, the album lived up to the hype and much more. Soaring vocals, masterful instrumentation and top notch songwriting make this one of my favorite albums of 2021. Best of all, there was a cassette release as well!

2. Atomic Skunk – Wisdom Of The Sun

https://atomicskunk.bandcamp.com/album/wisdom-of-the-sun

I’ve been a huge fan of Atomic Skunk since 2009 and it’s the blend of light ambient, World music influences and a plethora of soundscapes & field recordings that make this style so unique. After an 8 year hiatus, Atomic Skunk started releasing consistently great albums in 2019 and has been on a relentless escapade since then. This years ‘Wisdom Of The Sun’ has been one of my favorite electronic album of the year and I hope this pace continues for the foreseeable future.

3. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

https://cannibalcorpse.bandcamp.com/album/violence-unimagined

Hands down, ‘Violence Unimagined’ is Cannibal Corpse’s best album since 2006’s ‘Kill’. I’m not sure if it’s the addition of Erik Rutan (who recently replaced Pat O’Brien) or the fact that their songwriting is getting better with age. Either way, this is a banger of an album from start to finish and it reiterates the fact that Old School Death Metal is alive and well…and here to stay.

4. Kowloon Walled City – Piecework

https://kowloonwalledcity.bandcamp.com/album/piecework

Kowloon Walled City excel at creating a lethargic brand of Post Punk. The songs are complacent, not overly aggressive and no other band does it quite like they do. As adroit songwriters, they are able to blend heavy music with scaled back distortion while maintaining a massive sound. ‘Piecework’ is one of their best albums and I still listen to it on a regular basis.

5. Cosmic Abyss – Midnight

https://cosmicabyss.bandcamp.com/album/midnight

Cosmic Abyss is one of the best DIY artists in existence right now. Producing an offshoot brand of Doom Metal with an alluring ambient vibe, this is obscure experimentation at its best. ‘Midnight’ is one of his best offerings thus far and sets a high bar for other artists that dabble in this style of music.

6. Dinosaur Jr – Sweep It Into Space

https://dinosaurjr.bandcamp.com/album/sweep-it-into-space

80’s alt-rock masters, Dinosaur Jr., continue to release their brand of pre (and post) grunge rock. Expect plenty of fuzzy guitar tones, laid back vocals and well executed songs that continue to impress from an aging band that doesn’t see an end in sight.

7. Human Figures – After An Ordeal

https://popnihil.bandcamp.com/album/after-an-ordeal

If you grew up in the 80’s and were exposed to the surge of dark wave and post pop and liked it, then look no further than Human Figures. Creating a resurgence of the aforementioned genres, Human Figures excels at recreating that retrospective vibe and the production value alone is the icing on the cake. ‘After An Ordeal’ is an EP’s worth of incredible tracks that are sure to impress the listener with its emotional output and captivating sound. Don’t sleep on this one!

8. Breather 1 – The Noodle Bar

https://breather1.bandcamp.com/album/the-noodle-bar

Breather 1 has the whole cyberpunk and synthwave vibe down pat. ‘The Noodle Bar’ is a massive conceptual album that takes the listener on a retrospective journey in a futuristic setting. Sit back, grab your favorite headphones and enjoy this staggering ride to an enchanted world that you won’t soon forget.

9. Friendly Donut Shop – Childish Footsteps

https://friendlydonutshop.bandcamp.com/album/childish-footprints

There is a reason that Comfy Synth is a thing. It was meant to be a peaceful approach to the easy listening of obscure music. Friendly Donut Shop takes that concept seriously and is one of the best in the business. Latest release, ‘Childish Footsteps’ has a soothing and warm feeling that will take the listener away from their worries and replace it with positive energy. Another amazing effort by Friendly Donut Shop and I hope more albums of this variety are on the way in the near future.

10. Primordial Serpent – The Winter Warrior

https://primordialserpent.bandcamp.com/album/the-winter-warrior

Upon initial listen I was blown away by ‘The Winter Warrior’. Primordial Serpent has a serious knack for writing aggressive tunes that conjure that primitive sound of early 90’s black metal. With a lo-fi production and contentious style, this is exactly what I want to hear when listening to barbaric black metal.

11. Phurpa – Hymns And Rituals Of Gyer

https://modernbon.bandcamp.com/album/hymns-and-rituals-of-gyer

Phurpa takes ceremonial chanting and Tibetan ritualistic vocalizations to the next level. For some, an acquired taste must be obtained before soaking in the deep value of a Phurpa recording or you may not be able to handle it. However, for others that like it, the output is extremely rewarding. ‘Hymns And Rituals Of Gyer’ is nearly three hours of extreme mediation through deep chants and throat singing. Ancient instrumentation are used to give this bleak occasion a setting of ritualistic darkness.

12. Mastodon – Hushed And Grim

https://www.mastodonrocks.com/?frontpage=true

Although Mastodon is not as heavy as they were when they first started out, for what they lack in the “heavy” department, they more than make up with superior songwriting. This mammoth two-album set of songs is some of their best – and most accessible – work to date. There are some heavy tracks on here as well as dark ballads and they are all amazing. What’s more impressive is the three-vocal attack that just keeps getting better.

13. Flotsam And Jetsam – Blood In The Water

https://www.flotstildeath.com/news/flotsam-and-jetsam-releases-title-track-brand-new-video-of-upcoming-album-blood-in-the-water/

80’s Thrash Metal pioneers Flotsam And Jetsam may not have a storied career like that of Metallica, Megadeth or Slayer, but you have to be impressed with their sticktoitiveness approach to releasing music. ‘Blood In The Water’ is their fourteenth full-length album and quite possibly their best to date. Every track is a banger and the vocals, music and production are the best they’ve ever been. Definitely check this one out if you’re into that classic Thrash Metal sound with a slight modern influence.

14. Converge & Chelsea Wolfe – Bloodmoon: I

https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/bloodmoon-i

I love collaboration albums and when I heard that Converge and Chelsea Wolfe were releasing an album together, I almost lost my mind. At first, I had no idea what to expect, especially since the styles of both artists are on the opposite end of the spectrum. However, the results is a clean mix of both artist with even distribution of styles and pristine song writing. I wish more artists would follow the lead of Converge and Chelsea Wolfe and push the envelope of fusing styles. This is amazing stuff.

15. Novemthree – Storms Of Memory

https://glassthroatrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/storms-of-memory

I’ve never been disappointed with any release from Glass Throat Recordings. With artists such as Blood Of The Black Owl, Moon Mourning Earth, and Cedar Dreamer, Glass Throat Recordings releases Nature-inspired Folk music with elements of acoustic passages, ambient, and impressive vocalizations. The addition of Novemthree is just a natural progression of the label and ‘Storms Of Memory’ is one of the finest albums to be released this year. Light vocals, dreamy instrumentation and the occasional percussion input are stand-out factors for this highly impressive album.

Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2021

The great thing about the Dungeon Synth community is that it’s growing at a staggering rate and it seems like multiple albums by an array of artists are getting released on a daily basis. The downside of that is picking just 10 releases to be featured on my Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth albums list of 2021. If I had the time to create and talk about my Top 50 releases, I’d certainly do so. However, since it would take me too long to get that done, you’re stuck with a list of my Top 10 favorites of this year. Please enjoy and show your support for these artists if you don’t already do so.

10. Lamp & Dagger (Various Artists) – This Tape Is Haunted

https://lampanddagger.bandcamp.com/album/this-tape-is-haunted

Although this may be considered by some “a seasonal album”, it’s much more than that. It’s like a soundtrack of dread and horror that provides a terrifying backdrop to your ghoulish nightmares. Lamp & Dagger assimilated an all-star cast of Dungeon Synth artists to step beyond their traditional undertakings for creating a spectacle of anguish and fear. The results are breathtakingly evil and definitely deserves more than a seasonal listen. I’ve not stopped listening to this since it’s release and it’s more than worthy of kicking off my Top 10 Dungeon Synth/Synth albums of 2021 list.

9. Baerdcyn – We Are But Somber Beings

https://baerdcyn.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-but-somber-beings

Baerdcyn is a multi-talented artists that finds his stride with a myriad of acoustic instruments and organic tones. Just off the beaten path of traditional Dungeon Synth, ‘We Are But Somber Beings’ is a masterclass in instrumental compositions with raw emotions as the driving force. These mournful tracks contain some of the most serene arrangements that I’ve heard in a while and it’s been one of my go-to albums when I relinquish myself to a period of relaxation and relief from day-to-day endeavors. Tune in to this peaceful, Medieval offering and enjoy its blissful mystery.

8. Elminster – Mountain Specters

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/mountain-specters

Elminster is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth artists that has turn it up a notch or two this year with releasing multiple stellar albums and expanding his arsenal amongst multiple project titles. Although just about everything has been amazing, it’s the ‘Mountain Specters’ album that has consumed the most plays from the ever-growing Elminster catalog. The tunes are very dreamy with an alluring charm that depicts a brief time of light during a rather dark period. If someone were to ask me a good starting point for discovering Elminster, I’d look no further than ‘Mountain Specters’.

7. Vandalorum – Maewyn

https://vandalorum.bandcamp.com/album/maewyn

‘Maewyn’ came out earlier in the year but I still listen to it quite often. The conceptual album based on the legend of Saint Patrick maximizes the sound spectrum with massive layers of synth effects, odd noises and percussive patterns & drum fills that are out of this world. With a fusion of upbeat and gloomy arrangements, this is not only an interesting album to listen to, it’s also one of my favorites of 2021 and it rightfully deserves the space on this list.

6. Jenn Taiga – Lunar Nocturnes & Esoteric Incantations

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

Jenn Taiga has hit another home run with ‘Lunar Nocturnes & Esoteric Incantations’. Auspiciously fusing Berlin School, retro synthwave and the underlying elements of Dungeon Synth, Jenn Taiga has created a type of energy that is impressive, addictive to listen to, and at times leaves an anxious feeling of the unknowing with regards to song structure and limitless capability. For me, it’s hard to top 2020’s ‘Plight’, but ‘Lunar Nocturnes & Esoteric Incantations’ expands the horizons of the aforementioned with its awe-inspiring resilience and is just as impressive.

5. Uilos – I: Dark Night Of The Soul

https://socalledhell.bandcamp.com/album/i-dark-night-of-the-soul

Out of all the albums in my Top 10 list, this is the only one that caught me by surprise. This is a pensive recording that exposes a meditative value with each and every listen. The production effort is a predominant factor that maximizes the tranquility of this recording and it’s the wall of sound vibe that makes this such a grand offering. The music ranges from Medieval styled anthems to modern synth harmonies and everything just fits…perfectly! Uilos is an artist that I’ll be following really closely from now on.

4. Wampyric Solitude – The Splendor Of Loneliness

https://wampyricsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/the-splendor-of-loneliness

Wampyric Solitude is the only artist (at least for me), that has an album in both of my Top 10 year end lists (one here and another in my Dark Ambient list). In what I consider to be his defining moment in Dungeon Synth, we are graced with ‘The Splendor Of Loneliness’. This album emits almost ninety minutes worth of abrasive Dungeon Synth that is dark, ominous and portrays the hardship of Medieval confrontations. Every track is a near masterpiece but there are several that stand out. “Enthroned Amongst The Eldritch Shadows” and “A Putrid Stench From The Grave Of Hope” are without a doubt some of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. If caustic Dungeon Synth is your thing, then don’t go another minute without checking out this gem.

3. Landsraad – The Golden Path

https://landsraad.bandcamp.com/album/the-golden-path

Dungeon Synth constructed around the Dune Universe? Yes, absolutely and not only is the concept enthralling but the music is some of the best that was produced all year. Although comfortably seeded in the Dungeon Synth genre, it’s the synthwave aesthetics that propel this album to great heights. Providing a futuristic atmosphere with retrospective effects, this is a true audial translation of the Dune story. This spectacle is sure to stand the test of time and will remain one of my favorites for many years to come.

2. Erythrite Throne – Eternal Frost Of The Dark Ages

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-frost-of-the-dark-ages

Whether you’re new to the Dungeon Synth genre or not, Erythrite Throne is most likely one of those artists that will get referred to the most as the “go to” for consistent musical releases. After all, in this modest community of artists and fans, Erythrite Throne would be considered a household name. That being said, there are several amazing facets to his music including Vampyric Blackened Synth and Symphonic intonations. Although every bit is amazing, it’s the symphonic side that I tend to gravitate to the most. ‘Eternal Frost Of The Dark Ages’ is one of those albums and – in my opinion – may be the best album in the discography. Made up of four epic long players, these cinematic anthems deliver a gloomy but melodic style that is supremely written and produced. Every song stands out in this masterclass effort and this has been one of my most played albums of the year.

1. Leander – Sorrow Dwellings

https://leander33.bandcamp.com/album/sorrow-dwellings

There is something extremely special about Leander’s sophomore effort, ‘Sorrow Dwellings’. Not only is the music absolutely incredible, but as a whole, it just feels personal, as if it were exclusively written for me and/or my emotional state. This album was released in January and here in December, it has remained my favorite Synth album of the year. At times it has a traditional Dungeon Synth vibe, other times it has a 70’s prog rock feel to it and above all, these compositions were exquisitely written and are some of the best tunes I’ve ever heard – of any genre. Although only consisting of five tracks, they all stand out in their own way during this thirty seven minute journey. I can’t wait to hear what the future holds for this exciting artist.

Top 10 Dark Ambient Releases Of 2021

I almost don’t like putting together these year-end Top 10 lists because it’s so hard to pick 10 albums out of the hundreds or thousands of Dark Ambient releases in a given year. However, at the same time, I do want to show my respects to the albums that held the highest entertainment value for me, thus equating to my FAVORITE Dark Ambient albums of 2021. I really hope you enjoy this list as much as I had putting it together and if there is anything that strikes your attention on here, please check them out and show your support for these amazing artists. Without further a due, I present to you my favorite 10 Dark Ambient albums of 2021.

10. Blackweald – 666 Minutes In Hell

https://blackweald.bandcamp.com/album/666-minutes-in-hell

What better way to get this list started than an album consisting of nearly eleven and a half hours of diabolical Dark Ambient. ‘666 Minutes In Hell’ is that album and just the length alone is downright captivating. As for the music itself, this is some of the most sinister Dark Ambient I’ve heard in a long time and the endless supply of field recordings and soundscapes are enough to make an actual trip to hell seem like an endless endeavor. This is a very creative album that sets a gloomy atmosphere and only Blackweald could pull this off with such a grim attraction.

9. Xerxes The Dark – Soundtrack To The Blind Owl

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com/album/soundtrack-to-the-blind-owl-24bit

Xerxes The Dark continues his string of impressive releases with the Industrial-styled, ‘Soundtrack To The Blind Owl’. One of his most chaotic and abrasive releases yet, this album is not to be taken lightly, as the amount of discord and pandemonium contained within can be alarmingly harsh if not expected. However, for me, I love this type of audial chaos and for nearly fifty three minutes, XTD thrashes the listener through a gauntlet of maniacal sounds and glitches by way of synth and guitar manipulation. Definitely check this one out if you’re into the more extreme side of Dark Ambient music.

8. Dead Melodies – Fabled Machines Of Old

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/fabled-machines-of-old

For the past couple of years, Dead Melodies has been one of the busiest and most consistent Dark Ambient artists around. From amazing solo efforts to haunting collaborations with the likes of Zenjungle and Beyond The Ghost, he has amassed quite the discography of varied material. ‘Fabled Machines Of Old’ is another prodigious notch in his belt with a ferocious blend of Dark Ambient tones, haunting acoustic guitar passages and the warm embrace of dark noir styled jazzy impulses. The result is an album full of assorted & gloomy characteristics that are extremely fulfilling and a breath of fresh air for the Cryo Chamber label.

7. Mora-Tau – Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer

https://thechurchofnoisygoat.bandcamp.com/album/wellcome-back-nuclear-summer

Mora-Tau has quickly become one of my favorite Dark Ambient artists with his brand of exhilarating improvisations. Releasing a magnitude of albums on his own Bandcamp page, as well as several other labels, it’s hard to pick a favorite album – especially since they are all so amazing. However, one that I keep returning to the most is the dispiriting ‘Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer’. These four tracks describe a dismal scene of a bleak, post-nuclear atmosphere of nothingness and regrowth. Using an assortment of synth effects and drones, Mora-Tau is like a voiceless narrator for a scene filled with disaster and radiance. I’m so glad that Mora-Tau exists at this point in time and I highly recommend checking out his whole discography, but starting with one of my year end favorites, ‘Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer’.

6. Wampyric Solitude – Echoes Of Undying Darkness And Bloodshed

https://wampyricsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-of-undying-darkness-and-bloodshed

Dungeon Synth maestro, Wampyric Solitude has not only created one of my favorite Dungeon Synth albums of the year, but he’s also produced one of my favorite Dark Ambient album, ‘Echoes Of Undying Darkness And Bloodshed’. Expecting another Dungeon Synth masterpiece, I was both shocked and blown away by the sounds of menacing drones, ominous atmospherics and apocalyptic styled soundscapes that decays from within. This is bleak adventure that I can’t stop listening to and I would to love to hear more of this type of dynamic caliber from Wampyric Solitude in the very near future.

5. Dahlia’s Tear – Adrift On The Edge Of Infinity

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/adrift-on-the-edge-of-infinity

Anyone that is familiar with the works of Dahlia’s Tear can agree that there is a recognizable sound throughout the impressive discography. However, it’s the Cryo Chamber releases that finds the artist at his best and the post-apocalyptic presentation is as doleful as it is hypnotizing. Just when you think you’ve heard the magnum opus effort by Dahlia’s Tear, along comes another album of equal or better quality. ‘Adrift On The Edge Of Infinity’ is a driving force of intensity that exudes melancholic proportions with a haunting soundscape. I eagerly await new albums by Dahlia’s Tear and this one was no exception and it surely doesn’t disappoint.

4. Sydalesis – Living Machine

https://sydalesis.bandcamp.com/album/living-machine

‘Living Machine’ is a masterclass in Berlin School styled Dark Ambient music. This mammoth recording hosts 14 tracks of lenitive, atmospheric anthems that expands beyond two and a half hours of playing time. Mixing ambient music with Berlin School sequences has become one of my favorite styles of electronic music and I tend to get completely mesmerized by its output. ‘Living Machine’ elicited that exact result from the initial listen back in April until now. This album remains a fascinating experience and it – unfortunately – didn’t get the attention that it deserved. I highly recommend checking this one out immediately.

3. Hilyard – Division Cycle

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

The albums that Hilyard produces for Cryo Chamber are just different – in a great way. He seems to pull out all the stops when making music for the giant label and ‘Division Cycle’ is my favorite Cryo Chamber label release for this year. An excellent blend of Space Ambient and minimalistic droning, this album was an immediate hit and greatly surpassed all of my expectations. Subtle soundscapes and industrial undertones generate an atmosphere of endless tranquility, darkened by blissful aggression. This is one of the most meditative albums of the year and I still can’t get enough of its bleak embrace.

2. Delmak-O – The Colony

https://delmak-o.bandcamp.com/album/the-colony

I must say that ‘The Colony’ was quite a surprise upon initial listen. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. However, what I got was one of the most impressive Ambient albums that I’ve ever heard. Fusing Berlin School sequences with Space Ambient drones, otherworldly soundscapes and a Sci-Fi conceptual story, this album is a masterpiece from start to finish. This is one of those albums that you can blast in a pair of good headphones and be taken away on an astral adventure without any care in the world. A very enjoyable album that brings a much needed variety to the Dark Ambient community.

1. Sumatran Black – A Taxonomy Of Grief

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

I’ve been a Sumatran Black fan for a few years now and equally love the other projects by the same artist, Black Box Memories and Atasehir. Even though the output of dystopian style Dark Ambience has been quite impressive, ‘A Taxonomy Of Grief’ is light years ahead of previous efforts. For nearly two hours and twenty minutes, the listener is treated with a melancholic blend of mesmerizing synths and mournful soundscapes that depicts a gloomy reality of dealing with personal bereavement and loss. Each track completes a cycle of majestic aplomb through soothing arrangements that are insanely breathtaking. Because of these alluring intricacies, ‘A Taxonomy Of Grief’ is easily my favorite Dark Album of 2021.

Noisesculptor & God Cancer Pay Chaotic Tribute To Doctor Who With ‘Wanderers In The 4th Dimension’

Architects of harsh noise and industrial ambient, Noisesculptor and God Cancer, are closing out my year of abhorrent reviews with an extreme collaboration effort. ‘Wanderers In The 4th Dimension’ is a strident tribute to the golden era of Doctor Who and of all the eccentric and quirky subject matter and themes that the British show portrayed for many years. Containing three tracks of bizarre modulations and bleak atmospherics, this is definitely a worthy musical endeavor for such a respected TV show.

Lead off track for this daunting effort, “Edge Of Destruction”, begins the cycle of controlled chaos on this retro-infused EP. Living up to its namesake, this song immediately begins on a downward spiral toward an ominous journey through strange worlds and abstract time periods. Tumultuous modulations produce an algorithm of hectic adventure as random soundscapes forge a dark destiny of unsettled variation and dismal remnants. As if the random frequency sounds are creating an algorithm of despondent measures, the cracks of distorted synth terror reek havoc on the listeners ears. Next up, “The Mind Robber”, commences with an audial assault that is sure to invoke generations of hysteric and sinister vestiges. Creepy effects attune over ambient noises that appear discordant and heavily distorted. You can almost hear patterns of vocalizations as the noises continue to adjust. Although seeming random, the patterns represent a frenzied madness that can only be solved by sincere concentration and audible adaptability. The final track on this immense EP is the epic, “Web Planet”. Starting with various soundscapes that at first, sound soothing and placid, there is an underlying pandemonium that slowly begins to form as the track continues. Various cosmic sounds depict a race through time and space, while the hiss of looping drones radiate with sheer terror. As the track continues to unfold, chilling synth intonations emit pulses of icy cold effects that places the listener in strange, frigid worlds where frightening resolve remains imminent. This space-like adventure continues on until the feeling of angst is all that’s left to hold on to. This masterful track is just what this EP needed to finalize the effects of the noise terror that ensued within.

Noisesculptor and God Cancer had one major objective with producing this album, and that was to create a source of menacing ambience that consecrates one of the best science fiction dramas to ever be broadcasted on TV – Doctor Who. ‘Wanderers In The 4th Dimension’ is a fascinating offering that chronicles the retrospective sounds that could have been easily heard throughout the golden years of the show. From celestial sequences to harsh modulations, this is a mind-numbing effort that is an addictive listen and is of high entertainment value. Unfortunately, the cassette/digital release appear to be (currently) removed from Bandcamp but I’ll continue to check to see if it may be released again in the future. This is an album that I highly recommend and I hope one day that it will – once again – be available for consumption.

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Mørk Hest Solidifies A Dark Fantasy Spectacle Of Cinematic Proportions With ‘Conspiracy Of Angels’

I will never seize to be amazed at the amount of energy and focus that Dungeon Synth artist ingrain into their craft. While keeping true to the classic Dungeon Synth sound, acoustic instruments, soundscapes, other genres and dark ambience add layers of transparent value to the genre while keeping it fresh and innovative. Also, the fact that minimalism creates such a massive distinction is fascinating to witness. One artist that is certain to grab the listeners attention with a minimalistic approach to cinematic excellence is Mørk Hest. Solidifying his mainstay in the Dungeon Synth community with the engaging ‘Conspiracy Of Angels’, we find soothing compositions with theatrical build ups and alluring sustainment that is captivating throughout the entire album.

Mørk Hest explores an assortment of musical techniques on this album, but on the tenacious opener, “March Of Iron”, we hear a bombastic percussive segment that as powerful as it is poised. With mild reverberations and a constant rhythm, this is a style that sets the mood for Medieval tales and enchanting anthems. “A Dream Unfinished” commences with soft, chant-like intonations before dreamy synths take over and illicit arrangements alter the emotional stance of the album. “Dead Calling” continues the dive towards darkness as grim synth effects emit a gloomy and subjective vibe. Even though the tone alters several times, there is no question that this is a huge cinematic effort and the power of the ancients is in full effect. “Chatter Of War” starts with an uplifting cadence as illusory synths play a scale of elegant notes that lead into a haunting melody. “Knight’s Last Conquest” is one of the most decadent songs on the album and is of soundtrack-like quality that could easily be heard on a dark fantasy film. “Divinity Of A Night’s Eclipse” takes a turn toward a darkened abyss as a Dark Ambient style drone leads the charge in this ethereal hymn. Ominous vocals are featured as well and provide gothic overtones to this otherwise eerie offering. “Echo Of A Thousand Lost” contains vibrant orchestrations that are intended to calm the soul, especially since the precious few tracks created a sharp descent into a blackened realm. Next up is the tranquil, “Harper’s Ferry”. Including various reverberated soundscapes, this tracks has an underlying melody that is reminiscent of Renaissance-era musical endeavors and contains a trance-like quality that gives it an extra sense of depth. “Perilous Journey” epitomizes the fantasy synth sound with inspiriting keys and a gentle production value that diffuses the minimalistic setting. The title track, “Conspiracy Of Angels” employs a calming synthwave style with looping notes and a gentle harmony that is reminiscent of a daybreak setting, where life begins to take shape at a relevant pace and ataractic appeal. The final track on the album is “Wounded Spear”. Continuing in the same mesmerizing fashion as the previous track, this swan song provides an alleviating sense of ease, as peaceful ventures overtake the dark descent heard previously. This is such a beautiful and emotional way to end this album that you don’t quite want it to end.

Mørk Hest has accomplished an amazing feat of musical proportions by creating the consummate Dungeon Synth album. Although this is more of a orchestral and cinematic endeavor that the traditional sounds of Dungeon Synth, there is no denying the influence of the aforementioned. Utilizing space but dreamy vocal chants, soothing percussion, and an array of synth effects, ‘Conspiracy Of Angels’ is a fantastic album that should be heard to be appreciated. If you’ve not listened to this riveting album yet, please click on the link below and support this impressionable artist.

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Links:

https://morkhest.bandcamp.com/album/conspiracy-of-angels

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dark Ambient Summary Reviews, Part IV

I present to you my final round of Celestial Ephemerides for the year 2021 and I hope you enjoy the following Dark Ambient recordings as much as I have. I certainly wish that I had the time to give these albums a long form review but with the amount of request that I get on a daily basis and the actual time I have to spend on doing them, there just isn’t enough time in the day, week, month or year. At any rate, I hope these summary reviews will do and again…enjoy!

1. Beyond The Ghost – The Desolation Age

One of my favorite Dark Ambient artists, Beyond The Ghost is back with not only his greatest achievement yet, but a sensational recording that incorporates a magnitude of synth styles. With the deep drones in tact, he manages to include elements of synthwave, retro synth and a ton of melody to make this one of the most triumphant releases of the year. Emotional highs run rampant on tracks such as “Exodus”, “Pale Conquerers” and the piano-heavy “Slow Motion Downfall”. The Cryo Chamber label hits another home run with with valiant effort and I’m glad to see Beyond The Ghost release another effort that supersedes all expectations.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/the-desolation-age

2. Max Corbacho – Nocturnes III

What an honor it is to be alive during the existence of Max Corbacho. He is a world renowned ambient artist that has no problem producing either light or dark ambient and anything in between. On Nocturnes III, he darkens the mood on his brand of bleak, yet powerful ambience. Tracks such as “Altar Of Stillness” and “Lunation Sequence” produce a celestial boundary of deep space vibes and ominous sound effects. It’s easy to get lost in these long tracks as the mesmerizing drones continue to captivate from start to finish. Another brilliant album by the Ambient Master himself.

https://maxcorbacho.bandcamp.com/album/nocturnes-iii

3. Kalte – Morphology

Kalte puts the “minimal” in minimalistic with the starkly austere ‘Morphology’. Four tracks of space-like drones with the occasional soundscape that sounds like looping, industrialized textures that are sure to creep you out. “Stochastic Resonance” and “Coleoptera” are my favorite tracks on this short, thirty four minute EP. However, as a whole, this album contains epic creations that are sure to please fans of both Dark Ambient and Industrial Droning. Looking forward to hearing more from this promising artist.

https://kalte.bandcamp.com/album/morphology

4. Uburgrund – Dionelos

Uburgrund doesn’t hold back with their maniacal version of noise ambience. Harsh, looping effects and industrial-like distractions creates a whirlwind of discontent and uneasiness. However, there is a mesmerizing sensation when listening to this album as a whole that goes unmatched. Standout tracks include “Colonia De Sarcopti Din Palma (Swarm Of Another Life)” and “Trusa Iua Hinton (Rubik In Wonderland)” with endless fusillade of extreme modulations and frequency manipulations that will send the sensory glands into maximum overload. Also, at times the music seems audibly unbalanced but I think that’s another tactic that is completely relegated in this insane group of recordings. Highly recommended but listen at your own risk!

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/dionelos-2

5. Cities Last Broadcast – The Umbra Report

Cities Last Broadcast always brings a warm, vibrant tone with his brand of Dark Ambience. Including loops, tape hisses and various oddities that embrace a particular twilight, you can always expect a nostalgic walk down a darkened noir path. The Umbra Report is no different, as it entwines the same smoky sentiment found on the ‘Black Stage Of Night’ and ‘Black Corner Den’ releases with Atrium Carceri. Tracks such as “Unvocal”, “Disembodied” and “Antumbra” carry the minimalistic torch while creating a spacious, articulate texture that embraces more warmth than darkness. Simply put – another brilliant album by Cities Last Broadcast!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/the-umbra-report

6. Dr0ne – Nimb

Listening to Dr0ne’s ‘Nimb’ is like a complete exercise in futility. If you can make it through this one hour nightmarish drone-fest, then you can get through just about anything. With just two tracks – each almost thirty minutes long, this is like a bleak excursion like no other. These tracks slowly rip away your soul until there is nothing left but a skeleton of audial dissonance. At times, a deep plunge into darkened chambers occurs, taking the listener to cold outlets of deafening voids, while at other times, perpetual static remains consistently mesmerizing. This one is definitely worth checking out, especially if blasphemous droning is your thing.

https://dr0ne-sb.bandcamp.com/album/nimb

7. Daughter Of Dawn – Crushed Into Dust By The Weight Of The World

Fans of Peter Bjärgö should not pass up on this tasty offering of blissful, folk ambient by Daughter Of Dawn. These compositions are excitedly serene, but it’s the overall melody that will heighten your emotional state and draw you in for a near thirty minute ride down a soothing atmospheric aurora. Album opener, “Juniper Boughs Collide Upon My Shores” is quick to set a euphoric mood with reverberated acoustic guitar chops and dreamy vocals. “The Liminal Space In Which I Reside” has shades of shoegaze and dream pop genres that are feverishly fused with masterful songwriting and constructive vocal harmonies. This is a fantastic album that must be heard to be believed. Don’t pass on this magical offering.

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/crushed-into-dust-by-the-weight-of-the-world

8. Alphaxone & Proto U – Back To Beyond

Alphaxone & ProtonU create a spacious, sonic atmosphere like no other. On their second collaboration effort, ‘Back to Beyond’, they produce a colossal space ambient recording that takes the listener to the far reaches of space and set them in a drifting motion that transcends the relevance of time and speed. As if floating through a galaxy of stars, a gathering of soundscapes and effects paint a galactic portrait of uncharted territories. With a mix of light and dark drones, standout tracks such as “Dreams Of Solace” and “Delusions Of Omniscience” present a space odyssey like no other. It’s always a magical occurrence when these two artists join forces and I hope this wont be the last recording of its kind.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/back-to-beyond

9. Bonzaii – Death In The Cities

Bonzaii is a unique artist for the Dark Ambient genre and they successfully combine two of my favorite things on the ‘Death In The Cities’ EP, and that is emotional Melodie’s and distorted synth effects. Although both of these sound qualities are at distant ends of the musical spectrum, together they provide a monumental output that can be both soothing and terrifying. Tracks such as “Liturgy” and “Eyes In The Water” stand out with their breathtaking atmospherics and masterful arrangements. The looping synths are at times retrospective and borderline on Berlin School sequences without actually maintaining a stronghold on that style. All in all, this is top quality ambient music and recommended for those that know no boundaries when it comes to genre styles.

https://decayingspheres.bandcamp.com/track/death-in-the-cities

10. European Drought – By Ways Of Winter Past

“By Ways Of Winter Past” is a single, twenty eight minute long track of austere winter synth that catapults the listener right into the eye of a winter storm with no end in sight. This immensely minimal track is so chilling, that it can be downright alarming at times due to the notion of unknowingness around every corner. Synth effects remain absolute throughout this recording, representing the cold adventures that are experienced along the way. As the track continues, there is a sense of overwhelming chaos that takes over and deafening tones signal the downfall toward an icy oblivion. Nothing about this track will sent the mind at ease, but it will set a chilling mood for mindful atonement.

https://europeandrought.bandcamp.com/album/by-ways-of-winter-past

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Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dungeon Synth Summary Reviews, Part IV

Hello deep dungeon dwellers, I’m back with my last dose of Celestial Ephemerides for the year that covers the Dungeon Synth genre. These albums are simply amazing and I wish I could devote more time doing long form reviews but As a single-human operation, I seem to run out of time quite often. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this collection of summary reviews and please support the artists and this community!

1. Elven Sorrow – A Rise And Fall To Be Forgotten

Elven Sorrow brings us a mighty dose of Dungeon Synth in the form of a single, forty plus minute tracks. From impulsive elements of dark dungeons to retro synthwave tones, this track plays through a range of electronic goodness that succeeds in captivating the listeners attention, specially with the epic song length at play. With a dim production and minimalist dynamics, ‘A Rise And Fall To Be Forgotten’ is up close and personal rather than being grandiose in design. Impressive debut album from this artist.

https://elvensorrow.bandcamp.com/album/a-rise-and-fall-to-be-forgotten

2. A Compendium Of Curiosities – The Resting Place Of Dreams

‘The Resting Place Of Dreams’ is a sulky combination of synth wizardry and Renaissance-era atmospherics. These five tracks are a beautiful reminder at just how in depth the Dungeon Synth genre is, as it has a sound all of its own, yet plays right into the traditional Dungeon Synth aesthetics. Another mesmerizing album by A Compendium Of Curiosities and one that instills hope of continued growth in this loyal community of artists and fans.

https://acompendiumofcuriosities.bandcamp.com/album/the-resting-place-of-dreams

3. Borja – Antediluvian

Although a slight departure from Dungeon Synth in the traditional sense, ‘Antediluvian’ is a fresh take on theatric synth music. Soothing in nature, these tunes are memorable and will leave a lasting impression of the dreamy content that it portrays. Tracks such as “Where Dreams Fade To Ashes” and “Under The Eyes Of The Serpent” pack quite a punch with darkened arrangements and minimalistic vibes. This is an exquisite release with high entertainment value and impressive compositions that is sure to please all fans of electronic music.

https://borja375.bandcamp.com/album/antediluvian

4. Lóndrangar – Lóndrangar

Lóndrangar creates menacing Dungeon Synth for the warrior soul. These three expanded tracks produce nearly thirty three minutes of gritty synth tones with compounding melody throughout and a lasting impression for battle-like consequences. Mild orchestrations and gloomy production intensify the music while the epic arrangements set forth a dark path of Medieval influence. Find a cozy place and light a candle to enjoy this massively impressive effort.

https://londrangar.bandcamp.com/album/l-ndrangar

5. Calignosia – Páramos

With a grim assembly, Calignosia emits a musical pallet full of joyous rhythms, acoustic passages and a wondrous sense of melody that is sure to whisk the listener back to ancient times. With a slight reverberated sound and minimalistic approach to recording, the echoes of a Medieval past can be heard throughout this amazing recording. Each track presents a solitary stance that easily come together on an impactful audial journey. Highly recommended for those that welcome modern, world musical influences in their Dungeon Synth recordings.

https://calignosia.bandcamp.com/album/p-ramos

6. Goryō – Kaidan

Ancient Japanese instrumentation and traditional arrangements from the Samurai era prevail on this intense album of archaic tranquility. Deep drones and intensified soundscapes provide the landscape for these alluring compositions of a sinister output. I can imagined traveling in an unforgivable, wintry mountain terrain and being stalked by silent warriors of the night. This is one of the most unique recordings I’ve heard this year and it’s garnered plenty of playing time in my secluded domain. Highly recommended for fans of the orient and Japanese nostalgia.

https://goryokai.bandcamp.com/album/kaidan

7. Diego S. – Border Lands

Diego S. really knows how to set the mood with his brand of atmospheric Dungeon Synth. Beautifully produced, each track has a a crystal clear sense of direction and every instrument sounds exquisitely charming in the overall mix. Tracks such as “Beyond The Mist” and “Remnants Of A Hero” prove their worth with gloomy arrangements and mystifying synth effects that electrify with ethereal consistency. Defiantly an album worth checking out and an artist worth following to keep up with his musical endeavors.

https://diegosofficial.bandcamp.com/album/border-lands

8. Uilos – I: Dark Knight Of The Soul

Uilos presents ‘I: Dark Knight Of The Soul’ and it’s like listening to Dungeon Synth from the future and quite possibly an Album Of The Year contender. Songs like “Hermits Hideaway” has a touch of retro synthwave while “Strength Of Ten” and “The Last Stop” manipulates soothing guitar tones for a mystical adventure. This album has something for everyone and the journey – from start to finish – is absolutely amazing.

https://socalledhell.bandcamp.com/album/i-dark-night-of-the-soul

9. Shrouded Gate – Ravenlore

‘Ravenlore’ does the stronghold proud by stirring up an aggressive dose of Cinematic Dungeon Synth. The use of multiple synth layers are prominent throughout and the stellar songwriting broadens the scope of its fabled delivery. The dreamy production effort also enables this to cross multiple sub-genres such as comfy synth, forest synth and grandiose, dark Dungeon Synth. Standout tracks include “The Gentle Blossoms” and “Through The Dream Sky” – which has a mesmerizing percussion section. Don’t pass on this excellent album that has so much to offer to the listening ear.

https://shroudedgate.bandcamp.com/album/ravenlore

10. Inexistence – A Journey Through Ancient Times

Inexistence are the masters of variety as the tracks on ‘A Journey Through Ancient Times’ maneuver between sadistic synth intonations, chip tune endeavors and menacing symphonic black metal intro-style synth offerings. You never know what you’re going to be listening to from track to track but rest assure, these intonations are well constructed and hold their own either in a single track listening session or as a full album venture. From bombastic to minimalistic, expect the unexpected and enjoy the deep dive into this magnificent recording.

https://inexistence1.bandcamp.com/album/a-journey-through-ancient-times

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Video Premiere Of Dmigor’s “Pathways Beyond The Hallowed Rift”

Malibu Psychic Laboratories presents the daunting short film of Dmigor’s “Pathways Beyond The Hallowed Rift”. Nearly nineteen minutes of ominous dungeon synth with the visuals to match. The lo-fi tones of this musical journey are set against a minimalistic environment of forestry, dark images, ritualistic manner and perilous characters that succeed at telling a voiceless story. Director Vilus Rilus did an excellent job at capturing the spirit of the music and conceptualizing the necessary visuals that do it justice. Check out the video below and enjoy!

Directed by Vilus Rilus. He had this to say about the Dmigor endeavor:

“The voyage with Dmigor has been a great one, indeed, both harrowing and marvelous. Upon my first listen, the vision for the film unfolded effortlessly and the portal to the Realm of One Million Veils had been opened, spewing forth the sights we share with you now.”

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Links:

https://linktr.ee/malibupsychiclaboratories

https://dmigor.bandcamp.com/releases

Eyre Transmissions XIV: Interview With Dark Ambient Composer And Multi-Instrumentalist, Dead Melodies

Over the past few years, Dark Ambient producer Dead Melodies has been extremely active by creating one high-caliber album after another. Whether recording solo spectacles or excelling on collaborative musical endeavors, the consistency has paid off by making him one of the most respected Dark Ambient artists as of late. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the mastermind behind the project and learned about its beginnings, lineage and what keeps the creative processes flowing.

1. I’d like to thank you for this interview opportunity and for creating some of the most impressive Dark Ambient releases in recent years. How was Dead Melodies formed and did it rise out of the ashes of another project?

Thanks for the kind words and for the opportunity to discuss my work. 

Dead Melodies was indeed a rise from the ashes project, borne out of the need to rebrand after my old moniker, Indigolab became saturated and lost its direction. I have this tendency to dabble in many genres and after 10 years of covering a lot of ground from dub to folk to industrial, electronica and much more the project had totally lost its identity to me, so I wanted to start afresh with a newly focussed output. The initial premise for Dead Melodies was and still is at its core, storytelling through ambient music with dark ambient naturally being the perfect musical playground for this conceptual approach. Inevitably my cross-genre tendencies have crept their way into Dead Melodies, but something that’s always been essential to me for pushing art forward is fusion, so I think I just have to roll with the variety of styles in my head while ensuring each deviation works as a fully developed concept album.

2. For some artists, it seemed like 2020 (the year of COVID) created many constraints but for Dead Melodies, the project was extremely busy, releasing 3 albums (1 solo and 2 collaboration). Where did all of this creativity come from?

What an awful time I hope we’re seeing the other side of now. I think many artists found solace in music during the lockdowns, and I’m no exception there with the extra time hidden away from the world and the angst of what might be pathing the way for a lot of new ideas and more importantly the thinking space to develop them. The first two albums in 2020, ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘The Masterplan’ were actually recorded in 2019 as I’m usually a good while ahead of actual releases so it was in fact ‘Crier’s Bane’ and ‘Fabled Machines of Old’ that were I guess my real ‘lockdown albums’ feeding off all the strangeness of 2020.

3. The album ‘Anthropocene’ was in my Top 10 Dark Ambient albums of 2020. How did this collaboration effort with Zenjungle come about?

Thank you, I was incredibly proud of this album. Phil Gardelis of Zenjungle and I have been friends since 2011 in the early days of Soundcloud after sharing thoughts on each other’s music and chatting in general. I remember being totally blown away the first time I heard his music and trying to get my head around the unreal sounds he creates with a saxophone. Long before ‘Anthropocene’ we worked on several tracks together as well remixing each other’s music with the results being up there with some of my personal favourite collaborations. I’d always wanted to see if we could put out a proper collaborative album so I was really pleased when the opportunity presented itself.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/anthropocene

4. Was there a concept in mind for the album or did you guys pass around ideas until a solid foundation was formed?

It started with me buying a new bass guitar and exploring its sonic capabilities using an ebow and a few other experimental approaches. As soon as I realised what I was working on was starting to tap into a dark noir field I ran the early drafts by Phil to see if he wanted to add some saxophone or anything else and the collaboration was born. Initially it was more just the sound that was the underlying theme, but as we started refining the arrangements the underbelly of the city concept fell into place, which of course was pushed to the next level once Simon Heath constructed the concept artwork to go with it. Most of the tracks came together quite relatively quickly, whereas the spralling 17 minutes of ‘The Lowering’ ended up being a huge feat to complete. I think it turned out well, or at least it’s my personal favourite from the album, if only for the effort we both threw at it and for bringing a slight variation to the instrumentation of the rest of the album.

5. ‘Crier’s Bane’ was also a solid masterpiece with an exceptional concept and sound. How was it working with Beyond The Ghost and will you guys be releasing anymore collaborations in the future?

Much like with Phil, Pierre Laplace of Beyond The Ghost is another friend from the early Soundcloud days – they truly were great days to be a musician self-publishing online with a community spirit I’ve yet to witness since. Nevertheless, Pierre and I made friends back then talking about music and I also remixed something for his dark folk band of the time, The Sandman’s Orchestra. We got talking again when he branched out into dark ambient and soon after he joined Cryo Chamber putting out some incredible albums. He’s a very talented guy and being a multi-instrumentalist like myself, we both contributed a whole range of different elements to the album. I think this collaboration worked so well as we often lend a critical ear and feedback on each other’s works in progress, speaking frankly about strengths and weaknesses in compositions and mixes which set a great foundation for working together. As to whether we’ll collaborate again, we’ve both said a follow up would be fun.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/criers-bane

6. Did you go into that project with a Victorian-era theme in mind or did it culminate once the musical process started flowing?

The initial idea behind this was to craft a dark ambient album that carried the atmosphere and mood like that of Tom Waits’ Victorian/Vaudeville styled world. I’ve long been a fan of Waits’ music and it struck me one day there was some real mileage in the atmospherics behind his music that I really wanted to explore on a more ambient level. I started off playing around with a mic’d up melodica trying to simulate an accordion squeezebox, which worked surprisingly well with the right effects and layered with some field recordings I’d taken at a Christmas market the year before. Once I added some acoustic guitar ambience the foundations of the sound I’d envisioned was starting to take shape. Up until a few tracks in it was a solo venture, but I felt the vision needed a wider viewpoint to fully realise the world so knowing Pierre also had a wide taste in music I pitched the idea to him. Needless to say, he was on board and ideas and concepts bounced back and forth, with us both bringing our interpretation of English and French 19th century themes to the table – ultimately it ended up being set in the iconic and murderous East End of London with accounts of Whitechapel, Workhouses and Jack the Ripper inspiring some of the tracks. Once this was set in stone I had some fun writing the narrative, picturing the story through the eyes of the town crier, who went on to become the album’s namesake.

7. On 2020’s ‘The Masterplan’ it seems like you went for a more desolate & ominous sound instead of the space ambient approach that was on 2019’s ‘Primal Destination’. Was there a particular influence behind this shift in direction?

This always feels like a strange album in my catalogue. I’m very happy how it turned out, but it did feel almost miraculous that the original idea actually turned into something audibly cohesive. There were two key drivers in the sound when I started out; the first was an unpicking of the twisted technical elements of Drum & Bass and underground UK techno (my first musical home, producing and DJing in the 90s). I wanted to capture some of the bass and tech inspired sounds and reform into an ambient setting. The second element was using a technique, which I call guitar tapping, though it might have a proper name; essentially using pens, sticks etc to percussively play the strings like a dulcimer. I used a few different guitars, but the main instrument used throughout the album was a battered old mandolin which gives a really unusual Eastern tone when mic’d up and tapped and scraped. As the recordings progressed in production, with some work I managed to get the two elements to work together then with some synth layering the sound of the album came to be. To get back to the original question though, I think the influence was ultimately just the challenge of trying something different.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/the-masterplan

8. ‘The Masterplan’ seems to be themed around emptiness and corruption leading to an apocalyptic demise. Was the the concept you had in mind for the music?

Yes, exactly that. The technical aspect mentioned previously felt very final and apocalyptic once paired with the sorrowful guitars and warm drones so I pitched the narrative this way to compliment that mood. I did actually feel quite self-conscious when it was released in April 2020. The pandemic had taken its grip with the whole world feeling like the end was upon us and I’m releasing an album with the fictitious demise of humankind at its heart. Just felt a bit wrong, though I had written the music and narrative a good six months earlier and it was pretty well received, so maybe it tapped into the general morose mood of the time.

9. Do you approach your music and songwriting construct around a story or concept idea, or is it the other way around.

It varies to be honest. Sometimes I start recording with a clear vision in mind setting myself the challenge of capturing a sound, style or mood but equally as often I just hit record, follow the grain and shape the concept around the sound. My most recent album, ‘Fabled Machines of Old’ started with the sound and the story/concept came as the album developed, whereas my Cryo Chamber debut, ‘Legends of the Wood’ was a concept I had more or less fully mapped out way before I even started recording, all inspired by an old forest I used to knock about in as a kid where it was always rumoured there were some spooky goings on. In contrast to those, my second Cryo Chamber album, ‘The Foundations of Ruin’ started out with absolutely no concept in mind but when listening back to some eerie recordings of me playing an out of tune upright piano, I heard a glimmer of Resident Evil/Silent Hill lurking in the melodies, so I built an album and concept around those recordings.

It’s fun to approach each project from a different angle, not only to keep the creative process interesting and to test my abilities but also to ensure the end product has its own identity. Something I always hope each album has.

10. One of my favorite Dark Ambient albums of this year is ‘Fabled Machines Of Old’ in which you – once again – show your versatility with musical direction and instrumentation. Did it come natural to start including acoustic instruments as an element of your music?

Thank you, I put a lot of time and energy into this carefully trying to get the balance of acoustic guitar in a dark ambient setting right. I knew it was a risk with the acoustic being an odd choice for the genre but when I ran some early demos by Simon he was encouraging and of course ended up collaborating with me on the album as well as creating the utterly mind-blowing cover art.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/fabled-machines-of-old

The instrumentation was pretty natural to me as it’s something of a hark back to a huge amount of my back catalogue, pre-Dead Melodies when I recorded as Indigolab. The general premise of that project/band for around 10 years was fusing acoustic and electronic instruments. At first it was acoustic guitar in a dub techno or trip hop setting but over time I developed a style over a few albums I called Ambient Folk – a kind of chilled out mellow sound consisting of picked guitars, synths, nature ambience and live percussion. Much more uplifting and warming than my current output but the sound palette was not too dissimilar to ‘Fabled Machines’ – that was an unusual phase in my recordings where I just couldn’t find it in myself to write dark music, no matter how I tried (I think due to becoming a father around the time) but I just rode the creative wave putting out a lot of more welcoming and positive sounds than I normally would until I found my dark groove again. It actually changed the way I approach music in general in finding that using warmth and essentially happy music in contrast with darker elements worked well in lulling the listener to a false sense of security before unleashing the darkness. Much the same way in a horror movie where the story and setting usually starts off serene and peaceful before things go bad. Anyway, since starting Dead Melodies I’d been trying to figure out a way to bring the acoustic back to the forefront of my music to see how far I could push the ambient folk concept into dark ambient, but without crossing the line too far into another genre and this album was the result.

11. What’s your gear setup like and has the dynamics of it changed over the years from album to album?

I keep it relatively simple these days but have been through a lot of gear over the years. Right now I have my guitars; electric, acoustic, classical and bass, a Hydrasynth as my main hardware synth/controller and I use microphones and field recorders for capturing anything from vocals to instruments to experimental found sounds. My PC and software obviously plays a huge part in the studio with Cubase being the heart and soul of everything I work on. I’ve used it since it was just a humble midi sequencer back on the Atari ST and can’t imagine ever having to learn another recording environment as it’s like a second language to me. In previous studio incarnations I’ve been lucky enough to have owned some fantastic instruments which I’ve loved and used for a while then sold on to fund new gear and keep things fresh. I generally keep quite a streamlined set up as I’m more productive without the distraction of hundreds of shiny machines, plus I find the less is more approach pushes me to really squeeze the most out of an instrument. In fact, when I bought an Access Virus b back in about 1999, I stopped producing music for about six months, spending the time truly mastering the synth and building hundreds of sounds. Gave me a huge insight into synthesis and armed me with a suite of sounds I continued to use for well over a decade. I don’t own that synth any more but cherish the skills learnt on it and feel an equally magical relationship starting with the Hydrasynth a year into owning it

12. 2022 is right around the corner, do you have any plans to release more solo albums, collaborations or play live?

I’ve not long finished a new album exploring yet another theme and direction in sound which should be out next year. Among other things, it includes my early exploration of the Hydrasynth and some of the cool textures it can generate.

As for what’s coming after that, I’m currently playing around with some interesting noir concepts which if they continue well may end up forming an album – it’s early days but given the dark winter months are upon us when I’m most productive, I’m hopeful something good will come of it. I’d also definitely also like to explore a collaboration or two; there’s a number of talented artists I’d like to work with and I’m always game for new musical challenges, so watch this space!

13. I really appreciate your time and most of all, your spectacular music! Any final offerings for those that may be reading this interview?

Thanks again for the opportunity to discuss my work and thank you also to those reading and listening. It’s always refreshing to actually talk about my strange and almost secretive music making habits; as I’m sure is the case for many other musicians, it’s a subject most normal people don’t get, or know what to say about it, but with it being something I spend every spare hour working on or thinking about I really do appreciate the questions digging deeper into where the music comes from.

Dead Melodies Links:

https://deadmelodies.bandcamp.com

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/fabled-machines-of-old

Dev-I-Ant’s ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ Is An Intense Descent Into Clouded Realms Of Uncertainty

There is nothing like horror-fueled Dark Ambient music. Of course, the ominous sub-genre is generally inspired by post-apocalyptic settings or components of deep space, but the malevolence created with nightmarish soundscapes takes it to a whole new level. One artist that frequents the use of such sounds is Dev-I-Ant. Using a wide array of ominous textures and modulations, they further a unique signature sound with the use of bleak – sometimes modulated – narrations. This combinations produces a very desolate sound and ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ is a product of said efforts. These seven tracks enhance an austere listening sequence that is as terrifying as it is engaging.

“The Cloven Kiss” makes a grand entrance for the album with a succession of loud blasts as if signifying the beginning of a post-apocalyptic war. A barrage of soundscapes, field recordings and samples produce a terrifying scene of chilling consequences and the start of maniacal narrations soon ensue. “You Are The Devil In Disguise” commences with a sequence of drones that sounds like they are caught in a chaotic loop. Screams and jolting effects can – at first – be heard in the background but a loud thunderous clash definitely get the heart pumping due to its unexpected entrance. Grim narrations once again provide a malevolent storyline as a seemingly endless supply of visceral noises continue to infest without restraint. “The Path I No Longer Follow” is like a motionless dreamscape, where the listener is pinned down by spirited coercion. A wall of white noise slowly crescendos into the mix like a calming splash of ocean waves and delivers an eerie effect with spiraling consequences. Next up is “Where Flesh And Soul Depart”. Beginning with a bone-crushing thunderstorm sound, the tolling of the bell signifies immediate danger to all that can hear it in the surrounding areas. Swaying drones are conjured from the depths like an inbound flock of demons that are ready to instill a season of fear. Loud, pounding bangs compliment the destructive efforts before more harrowing narrations come about. This is also the longest track on the album at just over ten minutes in length and it has its fair share of chaos and dismay. Following that is the second longest track, “Gone For Good”. Reverberated drones set a placid backdrop for a series of bizarre effects and soundscapes, most notably a droid-like machine that is communicating in its robotic language. This can be heard throughout the majority of this nine plus minute track and the more it rattles off it’s series of zeros and ones, the more menacing it begins to sound. “The Winds That Carries The Fog” commences with a sound just as the title suggests. With almost a demonic sound to it, these ferocious modulations are reminiscent of walking through a dark cave, without a light and following the deathly noise just to try and make it out alive. The occasional sudden clank of industrial tones increase the creepiness and prepare the listener for the continued narrations, that sound cloudless and much deeper than earlier injections. The final song on the album is the title track, “Progression Of The Wolf”. Spacious drones commence while frequent howls indicate that the predatory creature is closer than expected. The ensuing soundscapes and field recordings depict a grim scene of people trapped in a cabin, deep in the woods and surrounded by wolves. As they draw closer, the cabin goers realize their demise but try to frighten them away with loud bangs on the door. However the beasts prevail, and the adventures end for the trapped humans.

Dev-I-Ant are like seasoned veterans in the world of Dark Ambient with their signature sound that could be considered more like Terror Drone than Dark Ambient. Nevertheless, ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ is a fascinating album with startling results. The substantial use of narrations combined with an abundance of soundscapes and field recordings provide gruesome surprises around every corner. If you’ve not heard this extremely impressive release, please head to the link below and download this gem and prepared to be abashed by the insane compositions contained within. You have been forewarned!

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Links:

https://dev-i-ant.bandcamp.com/album/progression-of-the-wolf-2