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!

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

Marsyas Zskin Produces An Explosive Combination Of Tranquillity And Nostalgia On ‘Flight Of Icarus’

Now this is a release that I’ve been very excited about reviewing for a while now. Combining Dungeon Synth with a theatrical sense of delivery, ‘Flight Of Icarus’ is a special album for electronic music in general. Marsyas Zskin knows no boundaries as musical thresholds are pushed to the limits in this spectacular collection of musical tales that exudes a soundtrack-like quality. From aggressive impulses to comfy intonations, this album uses a diversified range of sounds to portray a story that is only limited to the listeners imagination.

Opening track, “Visions Of Bright Aether”, exudes layers of ominous modulations creating a bleak atmosphere while droning synths provide a foundation of unimaginable depth. Throughout this seven and a half minute track, an array of effects are manipulated to create a commotion that is as accessible as it is enthralling. Pounding drums find a place to embed amongst the keys, adding a tasty rhythmic tone. Toward the end of the track, symphonic keys pay homage to early renditions of progressive synth wave. Skipping over a few tracks, we find “Memories Of Minoan Winters” where haunting atmospherics meet sinister and discordant synth chops. There is a beautiful underlying melody that screams in anxious disarray, but retro synth tones keep everything in synchronized perfection in the most bizarre of ways. Next is the beautiful dirge, “Dreams Of Foreign Skies”. The keyboard work is simply amazing here as the wizardry of the music continues to impress. However, the last portion of this track turns into a dreamy soundscape that fades out like a soothing, endless drone. A few tracks later, we hear the whimsical, “As A Boy, He Stared At The Sun”. Nearly nine and a half minutes of epic sounds and textures that take the listener on an audacious adventure filled with twists and turns. From the drum-laden intro to the subtle breaks of various instrumental solos, this song hauls a major influence for Medieval journeys of good verses evil. A few tracks later we find “Rise Of A Mysterious Dawn”. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, the fantastic details present an early morning dawn, where all the creatures begin their days’ adventure while evil crawls back to the depths of Middle Earth, awaiting the next heinous encounter with the evening eclipse. The fourteenth track, “Carried By Light, Back To The Sea” is a serene Ambient piece with semi distorted pads and modular loops, that bridges the various sounds found in this recording. Skipping over to the eighteenth and final song on the album, “Weeping Apollo”, we find a more daring intro with harsh drum pulses and doomy synth tones. At almost eight minutes in length, this song covers a lot of ground musically and sees several transitions from engaging Dungeon Synth to Ambient sounds and hints of industrialized noise. Additionally, the overall sound sways between eccentric keys and maniacal impulses, ultimately representing a mischievous excursion of days long forgotten.

Marsyas Zskin has created an amazing album that has no boundaries and isn’t afraid to explore territories normally out of reach in the Dungeon Synth genre. Also, this is a mammoth of a release with eighteen tracks totaling about ninety minutes of playing time. Even with an album that long, there are enough wreathes to keep the listener engaged from start to finish. That’s a huge accomplishment, especially for a genre that sees a ton of releases. If you’ve not checked out ‘Flight Of Icarus’, I highly recommend doing so. Please click on the link below and download this mesmerizing release.

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://realmandritual.bandcamp.com/album/flight-of-icarus

Industrial-Strength Modulations Construct Quite A Commotion on ‘Heterodox’ by Josh Sager

When it comes to Dark Ambient music, I’m always searching for a certain level of obscurity. After all, it’s supposed to be the bleakest form of ambient music so I’m looking to be drawn into a cold world of chaos and emptiness with a degree of emotional grit. There are many artists that surpass my expectations, leaving me with one simple question – How does this genre continue to fascinate me on such a high level? One such artists that I’ve recently been drawn to is Josh Sager. On his latest album, ‘Heterodox’, Josh pulls no punches when it comes to desolation tones and simultaneously excels at embedding poignant melodies that elicit moments of seclusion and bliss. These seven tracks provide a perfect storm of sentimental soundscapes, rhythmic drones and the ability to capture the listeners soul, albeit momentarily, and establish a length of remembrance for every single note that is played.

The albums lead off track, “The Plague Doctors” begins with the subtle sounds of distant turmoil. However, as the modulations grow louder, an eerie chaos can be detected and it draws the listener in like a trance-like frequency. Synthwave harmonies and looping keys lead creates a twisted sensation while a massive build up of sound effects and drones amass a sonic wall of discord. “A Dread Of Something Abnormal” immediately commences with a heavily distorted drone that is reminiscent of an industrial wasteland commotion. Sophisticated effects weave in and out of the elongated note, turning the empty space into and angst-filled void. Drum pads and muffled guitar tones blast their way in, producing a varied space that makes this soundtrack worthy material. “Lurkers” is definitely where the creep factor comes into play, pushing this album to extreme new heights. A thumping bass sound leads a slow cadence while a symphony of noise begins to construct around it. The creepiness slowly turns into a melancholic sensation, rendering an audial passage of despair. This is one of the most haunting ambient tracks that I’ve heard in a while and is seriously worthy of repeated listens. “Monsters Make Monsters” starts with a reverberated piano tone that has a grandiose sound and succeeds at clearing a particular headspace for a dreamy adventure. While the listener continues to be mesmerized by these simply played notes, an establishment of field recordings and synth effects slowly crescendo into a retrospective outlook. I can imagine listening to this track while driving down a long, narrow road during the break of dawn. There is a particular crispness in this sound that offers a serene clarity and the results are amazing. “Ghost Of Mortis” is the most alluring tracks on the album as the delicate melody that is played throughout is full of decadent vibrations and somber emotions. Even though this song is over six minutes long, it ends sooner than expected due to the layers of melody capturing the heart of the listener at multiple intervals. “Fugitive Glances Of Strange Landscapes” is a droning adventure that exhibits various levels of industrial conduct by the waning effects used for the effortless use of distorted modulations. It’s like being trapped in a post-apocalyptic city filled with complex buildings structures that are corroded beyond any livable means. The final track on the album is “Death Is Just The End”. This is another slow builder, but when everything comes into full focus, it’s a force of controlled chaos and magnificent refrain. This is another nostalgic effort that stands out and sounds even more menacing at loud volumes. This is one track that I wish wouldn’t end; it’s that incredible and addictive.

Josh Sager is a really impressive Dark Ambient artist. The way he incorporates melody and makes reference to the retro synthwave era of 80’s compositions is spectacular. This is an album that can easily be played through in one sitting without skipping any tracks and I’m quite sure it will stand the test of time. Do yourself a favor and check it out by listening (or downloading) from the link below.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://joshsager.bandcamp.com/album/heterodox

Grande Loge Evokes Tribal Beats And Ritualistic Atmospherics On Compelling ‘Mantras’ Release

Once again, I find myself arriving late to the party on a fantastic album that was released toward the end of 2020. With so much music being released in the genres that I’ve created this blog for, it sometimes feels impossible to stay dialed in to all of the magnificent works of art that find their way into this world. However, as I’ve always said, it’s better late than ever, especially if discovering something that may have a lasting impact. Grande Loge definitely fits that bill with their awe-inspiring, ritualistic ambient debut, ‘Mantras’. Featuring seven tracks of ceremonial dirges, these songs exemplify ancient tribal hymns with traditional instruments and a solid production.

From the start, “Epopteia” takes the lister back in time, to a medieval Scandinavian period where music and art were inspired by the land, ancients Gods and culture. A broad mix of conventional instruments and hymnal chants, this track sets a particular mood for mythological inspiration and ritualistic dominance. As the track continues, the pace increases and the compositional movements become more austere. “Mithra Invictus” commences with bold vocal incantations, followed by Middle Eastern-style melodies. A variety of percussive elements create a galloping style arrangement and the vocal performance become increasingly powerful. An impressive break toward the middle of the track brings more layers of stringed instruments and soon after, it picks back up to an enchanting performance of strident harmony and ancient throat singing. “Hekaten” continues with the powerful vocal performances in a chant-like manner, complete with serene musical accents, with the occasional bell ring. As the song ages, the vocals become more majestic and continue to stand out. This track is reminiscent of a group of Norse warriors participating in a ritualistic ceremony before forging on to battle. “Avekko” has a compelling and unique vocal performance, with layers of vocal chats & whispers, while drones of throat singing occupies the background elements. Harsh shrills of warrior-like cries peak at random intervals, while a beautiful violin lead stands out between all of the vocal endeavors. “Aecroto” begins with a simple percussive beat and then menacing overtone vocals begin to engage – chanting a traditional narration. A background drone increases with anxious intent while a wide range of voice melodies continue to shine. “Tenya Pon” is a fun little track that will have the listener tapping their feet in unison with the drum beats, while singing along with the simple vocal chants that are present throughout. It’s easy to tell that this is a celebratory track due to the upbeat percussive performance and the sing-along style vocals. The final track on the album is the ceremonial “Hierophantes”. Various traditional instruments synchronize to compose a minimalistic but glorifying final performance. Representing the darkness of nature and melancholy, this song is soundtrack worthy and succeeds in catapulting the listener back to a dark time where an ancient civilization lived off of the land and endured the hardships of Arctic-like elements and suffrage through battle. This is such an exalting way to end this amazing album.

‘Mantras’ is an exception album and such a bold statement for a debut. Grande Loge sustains a high caliber performance throughout this stunningly beautiful magnum opus and every track stands out in the most impressive of ways. Combining elements of traditional instruments, multiple singing styles and haunting background ambience, Grand Loge creates a challenging platform for ritualistic inspired music. Fans of Wardruna and Phurpa should dive into this album immediately and everyone else should take the time to check out this extremely special performance. Click on the link below to download this grandiose musical experience.

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://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/mantras

‘Music For Mental Health’ Brings Much Needed Awareness For World Mental Health Day

Today, October 10th, is the observation of World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1994, this International Day has grown into a global event that expands beyond 150 countries. On this day, supporters celebrate the education, knowledge and advancement against social stigma. What makes this day even more special is when artist across multiple genres of obscure music come together in a collaborative effort and release an album dedicated to this cause. ‘Music For Mental Health’ is that album and Hreám Recordings did a fascinating job curating this collection of fantastic tunes, especially since they have a deeper meaning for many of the artists that contributed. The outcome is over three hours of raw, honest, emotion-filled songs that excel at raising awareness for this special day. In addition, all proceeds from this album will go to Mind UK (link below). Please show your support for this cause and head over to the bandcamp link below and download this amazing album.

From the curator of this project:

The artists involved in this project are all more or less of the No Audience Underground:
8 Track Dogma, A Beautiful Idea, Audio Obscura, Bolivian Fireships, boycalledcrow, D^mselfly, Distant Animals, DJ盲目, Dogs Versus Shadows, Drew Mulholland, EXPOSE YOUR EYES, fencepost, Henrik Meierkord, Lednik Frontier, Malady of Knots, Quiet Clapping, Rauppwar, relay station, Sound Effects Of Death And Horror, The Creeping Man, The New Emphatic, The Owl, The Wyndham Research Institute, there are no birds here, Vanessa Pettendorfer, V’Gernull, Wonderful Beasts and Xqui.

The compilation covers genres as: experimental, drone, ambient, soundscape, electronic and improv. There are 27 tracks all in all and over 3 hours of music waiting for the listener. Most of the tracks are specially written for this project, with a few handpicked. Many pieces reflect over the creators own struggles with mental health issues and there are even some that chosen to leave a written message to read while listening to their creation. We have all worked very hard for this and are very proud of the result. It will be a true joy to be able to share this one with the world.


All proceeds will go to Mind UK:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

Hreám Recordings:

https://hream.bandcamp.com

Withering Of Light Unearths A Collection Of Obscure Fragments On ‘Reliquary’

There is a particularly dark scene in the movie, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in which Luke Skywalker is undergoing his Jedi Knight training. They come upon a dark path of sorts and Luke asks Yoda, “What’s In there”, in which Yoda replies, “Only what you take with you.” That is such a haunting sentence, especially when experiencing the unknown. It also serves as a metaphor for Withering Of Lights latest album, ‘Reliquary’. It’s almost hard to describe in words what that actually means, but fans of Dark Ambient music can easily relate to this analogy, as this genre of music excels at providing a platform for emotional and spiritual expansion. As for ‘Reliquary’, the six songs contained within contribute to a sense of isolation and dread, in which unforetold tales are inevitable and open for an array of interpretations.

Harrowing album opener, “Apocryyphal”, administers a jolt of cold atmospherics and creepy soundscapes that drag the listen down a bleak pit of doom. The drones cascade with minimalistic angst and lurking synth effects crescendo at random intervals, providing an unfathomable experience. “Fane” continues this dark excursion by weighing the listener down with a barrage of consoling drones and sequences of terrifying sounds. As the ear-piercing tones isolate the listener from a peaceful reality, low-end reverberations zero in on the minds gloomy whereabouts. Toward the end of the track, a hint of calming keys expand this emotional journey into new territory. The next track, “Hive”, is like a chain reaction of evil intent, as sinister soundscapes continue to build at will. Superbly arranged synth leads adds a depth of character as this develops into one of the most malevolent concepts on the album. Industrial effects give this an overall apocalyptic vibe as this nightmare increases with each passing second. The albums title track, “Reliquary”, lives up to its ominous name as I can imagine hearing this upon discovering an ancient ark in a long forgotten cave. As curiosity presses you to open the ark for a vivid discovery of the relics contained within, a sense of relentless evil darkens the skies and morphs all tranquil thoughts into an inauspicious will of self-destruction. “Spectral Resonance” is like an austere sense of awakening as this minimalistic piece represents a void of surroundings and a slow-motion effort to investigate a way out of this purgatory. This track also provides a cold, desolate dais for emotional captivity, spewing filthy soundscapes, manipulated by eerie reverberations and manifestations. The final track on the album is “White Chrism”. A great – but excruciating – blend of nominal drones and loosely embedded soundscapes, this track serves as the horrifying exit from a nightmarish adventure and the scarred return to a gloomy reality. Even as the track comes to a close, these dreary modulations will remain as a everlasting cicatrix, replaying over and over again with no end avail.

Withering Of Light does a compelling job at turning minimalistic drones into a work of decaying art. ‘Reliquary’ is an album of evil intent and disquieting accord. Not only are these tracks downright terrifying but for listeners in the wrong state of mind, could cause traumatic affects. The metaphor that I presented in the beginning of this review still holds true for this recording. There is so much space ingrained in this music that the emotions you bring to this listening experience is a customary component to its audial outcome. This is an excellent Dark Ambient album that deserves to be heard by the masses. Please show your support for Withering Of Light by downloading this album from the link below, as well as checking out the back catalog of superb albums.

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://witheringoflight.bandcamp.com

Sydalesis Constructs a Berlin School Classic With ‘Living Machine’

For over a decade now, Sydalesis has been crafting a vibrant blend of atmospheric music that ranges from light to dark ambient with a ton of experimental electronic-based compositions in between. However, earlier this year, horizons were expanded when the Berlin School heavy ‘Living Machine’ was released. This album presented a masterclass of krautrock based synths with over two and a half hours of mesmerizing soundscapes to launch the listener into an overwhelming cosmic universe. On a typical music review, I would present my view of every song on an album but with ‘Living Machine’ and it’s fourteen tracks of celestial encounters, I’ll spend some time elaborating on just a few of my favorites.

Transcendent album opener, “Dawn Of The Rise” blasts off at a contentious pace, setting a resilient standard for the remainder of the album. At six minutes and fifty eight seconds long, it’s actually the albums shortest track. However, the traditional but complex Berlin School sequences provide a nostalgic realm to begin an elongated drift, as this album is undoubtedly relentless. The backing drones elicit a calm demeanor amongst the mild chaotic blend of synth leads and soundscapes. I can’t think of a better track from this album to start this amazing audial journey. Moving right into an epic blend of mesmerizing synths and celestial drones, “Operatives” decreases the velocity initiated by the first track but replaces it with a soothing and emotional retro-adventure for over sixteen and a half minutes. Percussive patterns and melodic keys are the proponents that elevate this gem to solar heights making it one of my favorite tracks. Skipping over a few tracks will bring us to “Epilogue Of War”, an eleven minute sixteen second long excursion into a bleak world of ethereal soundscapes and captivating melody. As one of the darker tracks on the album, the synth leads soar into oblivion over looped percussive patterns and a slightly distorted Berlin School sequence. The retrospective arrangement and bold use of effects will have the listener meandering anxiously in a world of voided space and floating memories. Skipping down a few more tracks, finds my overall favorite song on the album, “Resurgence”. Commencing with a mid-paced sequencer effect and atmospheric keys that quietly build into an aimless composition, the droning keys are what stands out the most to me. The fantastic melody is so fluid, the listener will instantly drift back to a time of neon lights, bleak horizons and cruising in a DeLorean at midnight with their sunglasses on. Although traveling at full speed, the surroundings seem to float by in slow motion, being caught systematically in the keen peripheral vision of the driver. Even at the mammoth length of this song, it seems to pass by too quickly, enticing the listener to hit the repeat button again and again. The last song that I’d like to talk about amongst this fourteen track collection, is the dainty “Capital Metropolis”. Utilizing additional effects and several layers of Berlin School sequences, this near ten and a half minute magnum opus showcases a broader range of sound and dynamics than some of the other tracks. It is arranged in a way that almost sounds like a continuous build. The magnificent synth leads provide a dreamy scenario in which emotional travels to distant worlds can be achieved. Again, this is another fantastic moment on the album in which one doesn’t want it to end. Every single song on this album is simply amazing but I wanted to highlight a few of my absolute favorites.

‘Living Machine’ is a front runner for Ambient Album Of The Year in my opinion. Even though this album is over two and a half hours long, there isn’t a single boring moment on it and the masterful use of Berlin School sequences is absolutely addicting to listen to. Although it showcases a slightly different side of Sydalesis, it will surely leave its mark in several sub-genres of the synth community. If you’ve not had the opportunity to listen to this massively underrated album, I highly recommend checking it out. Please support Sydalesis by downloading this album from the link below. You’ll be glad you did!

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

Celestial-Themed Intonations Lead To Visionary Dungeon Melodies On Time Unveiled Masterpiece ‘Lunar Theology’

It’s certainly pleasing to the ear to hear fresh elements in the Dungeon Synth genre. I’m sure we all have our favorite aspects of the music whether it be melancholic, gloomy, quirky or whimsical but what’s so gratifying is when an artist comes along and redefines the listening experience with a combination of the aforementioned styles. Time Unveiled – a fantastic new project from the mastermind behind the psychedelic Dungeon Synth act Temple Of The Fractured Light – gives us a unique perspective on the genre in terms of compositional approach and thematically driven vibes. The result is an eighty plus minute journey down an ethereal path of solar enlightenment and systematic melodies.

Whisked away to a celestial world with minimal distractions, “Into The New Story” is a satisfyingly gloomy piece with a simple (but infectious) melody that sets the mood for a daring adventure into the far reaches of galactic realms. By the time “…And Her Hair Was Made Of Starlight” kicks in, the journey begins to take flight with a simple but combative refrain that exemplifies a battle-like cadence with whimsical synths. “Master Of No Domain” commences with a single keyboard tone that plays a delightful intonation. After a brief introduction, layers of mischievous synth effects combine to create an amusing ride through harrowing landscapes. A short ambient section fuses two eccentric sections as this seven plus minute track provides the foundation for the remainder of the album. “Unrest In The House Of Solar (Prelude To Battle)” is a short somber piece that exudes a completely mournful state with soothing synths and elongated ambient sections. “Battle For The Sky” is a slow builder but showcases a variety of instrumentation and sounds to create an anthem for an upcoming lugubrious campaign. “Goodbye, Green Castle” features psychedelic effects and stringent synth arrangements and overall has a very nostalgic feel to it. “All The Things Which Make Light” is one of my favorite tracks on the album as has a grim tone and modest production. These are just a few key factors that enhance the experience as the trance-like groove is almost meditative. “A Song For Jacky Lynn” has a sensational bass line that thumps at a harmonious pace throughout the track. The layers of synth melodies build from start to finish and preserve the dark noir approach to this catchy track. The albums title track, “Lunar Theology” is a deceptively dark piece that combines calm, flowing synths with memorable leads. It’s minimalistic in nature but contains a haunting melody that makes it supremely grand. “Arabia In Monochrome” is a fun little tune that contains tribal-like beats and Eastern-influenced synth leads. The beat will have the listener bobbing their head with swift fulfillment while the Middle Eastern synth arrangements will catapult you to a dimension of dry desert heat and mischievous adventures. “XI: Sleep (Träd Cover)” is a beautiful rendition of a song by the late, great Geo Romero. Somber melody leads are superbly fused with reverberated synth tones that are crystal clear and down right mesmerizing. “Skyward, Amber Dancer!” contains guitar-like effects with a pitch-shifting ambient background that screams retro! This is such a fitting track to close out this illustrious nocturnal adventure. The final track is the bonus adventure, “Live At Rainbow Bridge (12/19/2020)” and is thirty five minutes of raw, emotional Dungeon Synth that is out of this world. From gloomy field recordings and soundscapes to dreamy synths, this recording is more than meets the eye as even the subtle imperfections blend well to create a riveting experience that must have been amazing to witness live.

I absolutely love the variance of melody that is embodied on ‘Lunar Theology’. Time Unveiled represents a new era of Dungeon Synth and sends these colossal transmissions on an interstellar orbit by way of renewed compositions and fantastic thematic approach. I highly recommend this amazing album so please click on the link below and support this project.

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://timeunveiled.bandcamp.com/album/lunar-theology

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

I love how Dark Ambient continues to grow and find ways to expand beyond the typical means of uniformity. While the baseline of stimulating drones and gloomy soundscapes are a permanent fixture in Dark Ambient music, the use of textured field recordings and the fusion of other genres show an increased variety in the music created for this genre and how it is able to expand. Welcome to round three of Celestial Ephemerides for my Dark Ambient summary reviews and I hope you savor these broad spectrum of releases and appreciate them as much as I do.

1. Secant Prime – Wavelets

For starters, this album is a few years old but after have been introduced to it, I knew that I had to write about it in some form or fashion. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill Dark Ambient recording, as it is filled with pulsating modulations, harsh industrialized noises with random samples and soundscapes that make this a horrifying affair. However, these five tracks present an hours worth of entertaining dark electronic music that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and trapped in a dark post-apocalyptic world.

https://secantprime.bandcamp.com/album/wavelets

2. Ulvestad – Fall

On the other end of the spectrum, Ulvestad presents the drone-laden, “Fall”. This minimalistic adventure commits the listener to a world of obscurity through elongated drones that build around cinematic soundscapes and grandiose production. This is as disturbing as it is tranquilizing and these four tracks tell a story through masterful synth and pad arrangements.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/fall

3. Tarme Til Alle – Blood Moon Prophecy

‘Blood Moon Prophecy’ is a unique recording in that it contains all of the elements of a theatrical and climactic Dark Ambient album but in a harsher sense. The tone and volume on the instrumentation is mixed louder than usual, creating a level of acerbity and distortion not normally experienced in this genre. Whereas Dark Ambient (at times) tends to be calm and soothing, this album is more abrasive, presenting more of a realistic approach to post apocalyptic and industrial themed tracks. Fortunately, it blends perfectly and I need to hear more of this!

https://tarmetilalle.bandcamp.com/releases

4. Mindspawn – Daemon

Mindspawn excel at creating a drone masterclass with the ominous ‘Daemon’. Extremely minimalistic droning with the help of some very demonic sounding effects, this may not be the album you want to fall asleep to. However, I do recommend this for those times where you need bleak soundscapes to set a harrowing mood. The modulation variants are very creative and the arrangements couldn’t be any better for a one hour recording of ominous sounds from the underworld. Don’t sleep on this one!

https://mindspawn.bandcamp.com/album/daemon

5. Flowers For Bodysnatchers – Infernal Beyond

Flowers For Bodysnatchers epitomizes the conceptual experience with each of his albums. From start to finish, you can expect an enthralling journey through realms of the obscure. On ‘Infernal Beyond’ the use of bleak soundscapes and field recordings propels this journey beyond expectation and the results are a sinister cluster of tracks that will leave the listener in a maniacal disarray. An absolutely amazing album from one of my favorite artists!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-beyond

6. Snake Eggs – The Birdland Chakras

‘The Birdland Chakras’ is a deep dive into the dimension of industrial-tinged experimentation. The variety of sounds and noises, mixed with Dark Ambient undertones creates a frantic output and the outcome is a horrifying collection of intonations that will dismantle your very core. At times whimsical and other times sadistic, this is a well blended assemblage of sounds that is very appeasing and completely entertaining. Can’t wait to hear more from this artist.

https://snakeeggs.bandcamp.com/album/the-birdland-chakras

7. Bocci/Arrighi/Lepore – Anagrammi

Now for something a bit different. Bocci/Arrighi/Lepore combine their compositional talents to create a piano-based album full of darkened arrangements and jazzy undertones. Their masterful piano and synth manipulations present a soothing, yet gloomy take on Dark Ambient and experimental music in general. Consisting of just four tracks, the listener is provided with a forty minute journey of alluring ambience that borders improvisational madness and supremely structured tunes. This one is highly recommended for fans of dark noir themed music.

https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com/album/anagrammi

8. Melkor – Hall Of Bats

‘Hall Of Bats’ embodies the minimalistic listening experience with dark, depressive drones and occasional layers of grim soundscapes and field recordings. Interestingly, there is a sparse sense of melody used throughout this recording, keeping it from become a completely bleak experience. However, it’s used as an expression of dread and increases the grandeur of this Dark Ambient spectacle. This album must be listened to from start to end to gain an appreciation for the full compositional encounter. At times, it’s like having an out-of-body experience.

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/hall-of-bats

9. Kammarheit – Thronal

‘Thronal’ is the perfect Dark Ambient album to listen to if seeking a completely melancholic experience. Agonizing synths accompany deep and slightly distorted drones to produce a deplorable sound that is not only addictive, but mesmerizing to the point of total submission. This album is like a minimalistic soundtrack for misery and sadness and I can’t get enough of it. Highly recommended for those seeking a dark and emotional audial dialog to accompany your own personal experiences.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/thronal

10. J. Donovan Malley – Echoes In A Cage

J. Donovan Malley packs more into this twenty two minute album than a lot of artist in an album twice the length. From warm piano ballads and soothing soundscapes to industrial-based noise fills and vocals (both operatic and harsh), ‘Echoes In A Cage’ is a compelling Dark Ambient album that goes beyond standard drones and synth modulations and explores the psyche of emotional projection. This is another expertly crafted album that I highly recommend checking out immediately!

https://jdonovanmalley.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-in-a-cage

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!