Since 2020, Calignosa has been producing a very distinctive brand of cinematic Dungeon Synth. Combining haunting orchestrations and majestic synth tones with ethereal Medieval themes, Calignosia has established a quality that is undeniable. On latest effort, ‘What Has Risen May Sink, And What Has Sunk May Rise’ Calignosia delivers his most gallant offering yet. Forty six minutes of ambient-filled Dungeon Synth, influenced by mighty Lovecraft tales complete this audial saga that transcends boundaries and amplifies spectacular songwriting.
On opening track “An Invocation To Cthulhu”, ominous tones and instrumental variants emit an introductory song riddled with mystery and haunting soundscapes. The percussive elements depict a time of precipitancy and excitement. “Once Upon A Time In Arabia” is a sonic piece with a Middle Eastern vibe and spacious orchestrations that are soundtrack worthy. As the arrangement shifts through volume changes and crescendos, Calignosia skillfully fuses patterns of beautifully constructed parts that produce a stellar orchestration. “Wandering In The Desert Of Rub’ Al Khali” is a light-hearted interpretation of vast melodies and layers of harmonious intonations with a touch of dreamy narrations that – at times – are very brooding. “By Night They Come Alive” is akin to a professionally composed orchestration with the addition of splendid narrations and a touch of traditional Dungeon Synth sounds. “Iram Dhāt Al-‘Imād” is a somber track with elongated synth notes and light ambient impressions with bouts of lead orchestrations and an overall ethereal vibe. Naturalistic field recordings add to the ambiance, creating a a warm world of solace and tranquility. “Spectral Winds Always Blow From The North” begins with an ambient fill that crescendos slowly into a dark soundscape with menacing results. Inaudible narrations with grim effects add a level of darkness that amplifies the gloomy sounds of this track. “Toward A Nameless City” is a buoyant song full of warm emotions and effervescent orchestrations. This track definitely represents a gleeful time in a distant fantasy world. Modulated narrations are a welcomed touch that injects a sense of animation into the overall experience of this track. “Meditations Of A Mad Man I (Within The Nameless City)” presents an obscure darkness that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With the feeling of a certain evil lurking around every corner, the menacing nuances throughout do an amazing job at painting a surreal picture of bleak embrace. “Meditations Of A Mad Man II (De Profundis)” is a continuation of the crepuscular sounds of Part I but in a more ambient way. With layers of elongated notes, angelic vocal effects and the occasional discordant tone, this is a quixotic way to conclude this two part magnum opus. The final track on this breathtaking album is, “Bedouin Song”. A lively song that embellishes peace and harmony, it features stringed instrumentation and a jaunty blend of synths and percussion that is sure to result in a celebratory dance of boundless energy.
Calignosia is an exceptional artist that epitomizes the orchestral sound and goes above and beyond to create an authentic brand of Dungeon Synth that is easily recognizable. Layers of exuberant orchestrations, unerring soundscapes and an ear for memorable melody are the keys to the mighty adventures that Calignosia always sends us on and ‘What Has Risen May Sink, And What Has Sunk May Rise’ is no exception, as it may be his most exploratory album yet. Fans of classical orchestrations and adventurous Dungeon Synth tones shouldn’t pass on this massive undertaking. Click on the link below to check out this astounding album, you’ll be glad you did.
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One thing that is really unique about the artists on the Cryo Chamber Label, is that they all have their signature sound that distinguishes them amongst their label mates. Tineidae brings a fresh, exciting sound that is perceptible in several ways. For one, there is an invigorating fusion of Berlin School, trance, and other facets of electronic music that create a futuristic sea of emotion. There is also an abrupt sense of dystopian landscapes that are crushing in every way. That being said, Tineidae has become a premier up-and-coming Dark Ambient artist that you won’t want to miss. I had a chance to catch up with the rhapsodic producer to find out more about this exhilarating project, it’s beginnings and what the future holds.
1. I really appreciate this interview opportunity. Tineidae has already released a few really impressive albums on the mighty Cryo Chamber label. How did that relationship come to be?
Hey and thanks for the questions! Cryo Chamber is a bunch of creative people with quite a specific aesthetic, that I myself dig. I liked some of the older stuff of Atrium Carceri released in Cold Meat Industry era (in fact that was one of the first dark ambient projects I have enjoyed listening to). Naturally after some time I had a change in the sound of the project that seemed to be fitting. So as per usual, I looked up Cryo Chamber demo policy and sent in my demo (which was EXO at that time). It was a gradual development and there was communication going on between Simon and me, but in the end he quite liked it and so EXO was set to be released through Cryo Chamber.
2. ‘Exo’, released in 2020, had such a massive, dystopian sound – which perfectly matched the times of the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Did you explore a lot of Dark Ambient tones or situational events when coming up with your signature sound?
Ah man, it’s hard 😀 I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember what led me to it. It’s just more bass-heavy ambient, I guess. I wasn’t really aiming at something specific, as most part of it I think was created still when pandemic wasn’t a thing. But yeah, it played nicely together, esp. that I like heavier and darker feel in music in general.
3. You impressively blend in subtle bits of Berlin School and Trance. What are some of your influences for the Tineidae project?
Funny that you mention trance, and actually you’re quite on point 🙂 For Berlin School electronica part, I think most of it comes from the time when i was a kid and my parents and i liked to listen to a lot of 80s electronica on cassetes or vinyls. And for trance, yeah, all the supersaw trance of 2000, but also later post-industrial stuff (aggrotech, rhythmic noise, dark-electro etc.) were all heavily focusing on synth leads with that trance-like feel and that is the kind of music that i like to this day. I just like catchy melodies i guess.
4. Before Tineidae, were you involved with other musical ventures?
There were some, yes, fortunately none of those are on the Internet anymore (or at least I hope so). At around 2007-2008 when I was quite under influence of post-industrial (and esp. goth industrial on peak of its popularity), there was one project where together with another guy we were making music (something akin to aggrotech) and I was on vocals. It was fun, there even were some local gigs, but ultimately I stopped enjoying it after a few years. Later on there were two other bands (some black, some death metal) where I tried as a vocalist, but I think I attended a few practice sessions at most and didn’t really feel like it was my thing.
5. Since you mentioned Black and Death metal, do you there there is a parallel between extreme metal and Dark Ambient music?
Oh absolutely. Someone was asking me on discord some time ago about what it feels like to release stuff on Cryo Chamber and be part of its roster, and I was joking that it often feels like a chill-room for tired metalheads, as a lot of artists are or were involved in different kinds of extreme music.
6. Earlier this year, we saw the release of ‘Mothership’ which greatly expanded on the ‘Exo’ sound. What was the process like going into producing this album?
It was indeed an attempt to expand the setup and have some more bits of lore here and there suggested by the track names. The sound turned to be a bit more aggressive (at least now when i listen and compare, i feel like it is), unintntionally, likely again due to the heavier influence of industrial and other dark electronica i’m into lately. We’re not done yet tho 🙂
7. What kind of world/dimension do you want your listeners to experience when listening to your work?
I don’t like to have things overly specific, as this way every listener has their own story in mind that unravels with each album. For me personally it is a story of distant future where people drift through space living aboard huge motherships, harvesting resources from the planet’s atmosphere, discovering new habitats and lifeforms.
8. “Behind The Seal” is my favorite track from ‘Mothership’. There are so many explorations in this track that make it stand out amongst the others. What was your vision for this particular track?
For people who are still living on the planet’s surface, Mothership is more of a mystery, they only see its lights slowly drifting in the night sky every once in a while, knowing nothing about what’s actually happening inside. As the album is retold from a point of view of a new recruit who comes aboard the mothership, it is that moment of unveiling the greatest mystery of his life (as no one ever returns back from the Mothership).
9. In terms of the equipment that you use for recording, did anything change between albums or did you use the same gear? Can you describe what your recording setup is like?
The setup is rather minimal – field recordings are done with good old Zoom h2n, some sounds come out of Roland JD-XI, some from a bass guitar meticulously tortured by different exciters, but like 95% is in the box (VST synthesizers and effects, samples etc.). Actually i think i even got the whole process of making at least one of the tracks during live-streams (uploaded to my youtube now), and that one was 100% in the box (okay maybe some odd field-recordings or other noises from “outside” sources, but that’s about it).
10. Going back to ‘Mothership’, another track that I find truly impressive is “Manufacturing Facility”. The dynamics of that track is so massive and the sampling sequences are quite mesmerizing. Do you approach each track with a particular idea or do you build a story and find ways to connect each track?
Thanks, yeah that’s a neat track. Usually there is a rough idea it all starts with and there are different approaches to try and implement it, sometimes it takes a good bunch of attempts to get somewhere. In this particular case it all started with a sound design session, which means, i just get some sound source and try to destroy it with a variety of effects, modulations and what not, all while recording it. Then a resampling comes into play, where I pick the parts that I like the most and do another bunch of processing and mangling and modulations and what not. The process continues till I arrive at something that feels particularly close to what I have in mind, or if not I may restart it from scratch. In this case I had a bunch of “best picks” from one of such sessions, that sounded quite mechanical to me. At that time I already had an idea of a space inside the Mothership that would be some sort of a factory or a refinery unit, so all these things pretty much started falling into their places after some time spent arranging and playing with moods and melodies. In other tracks I sometimes start with melodies instead, and continue developing ideas with more focus on melodies, but resampling and sound design usually still find there way in.
For the second question, I tend to have an idea first and at least try to lead the sound that way (it doesn’t always work tho and sometimes music just starts living on its own, which isn’t bad either)
11. Most recently, you released a collaboration album with Drifting In Silence called ‘Simulation’. How did this partnership come about?
Derrick has found me on facebook and IG some time after ‘Slowly Drown In Static’ was released. at that point I haven’t heard his music yet, we had some chats about music in general, he’s just a cool human being who happens to have a similar taste in music. At some point we started discussing the possibility of a collaborative release, and yeah he had some amazing ideas and so he was more like leading the way and we started working on it (slowly, with some breaks at least on my end due to IRL stuff and having several other projects ongoing at the same time – bad time management skill, simply put).
12. Musically, both Drifting In Silence and Tineidae are sonically different, yet the combination of these projects work quite well. How did the two of you collaborate on the actual song building?
As I mentioned, Derrick had some really good ideas, and some jams and drones recorded in his studio – those were a starting point. Some tracks were in my opinion pretty much ready, so i probably added just a bit of flavor, and others we worked on different layers, sometimes adding sometimes taking out things, or even splitting and rearranging some of the longer tracks giving them different feel and texture. There was quite a bit of experimentation and trusting the gut feeling so to speak on my end, but i feel like for the most part those experiments turned out pretty good.
13. Do you have any plans to collaborate with other artists in the future?
I love collaborations, really, often to the point that I start too many and have hard time finishing any of those in a timely manner. And so this year several of those came out and some yet to come out at the end of this year, and there are still several ongoing and I can’t wait to share more info about those when they’re more fleshed out.
14. Speaking of collaborations, I just realized that you took part in last years’ annual Cryo Chamber Lovecraft release, ‘Dagon’. What was that experience like?
The whole collab is akin to a big brainstorm process, but in musical terms – all artists have some ideas and generate sounds and drones that are fitting the narrative or overall atmosphere,and then those are used as building blocks to form a bigger picture. It’s a pretty cool opportunity, esp. for a more sound-design-driven approach (as not everything has to be a drone or a melody), and you get a chance to focus on the fine details of each sound as much as you want to. Also limited sound pool lets you find different ways for implementing creative decisions as some of the sounds may be out of your “comfort zone” and you have to figure out how to make it work the way you want it to.
15. When not creating music yourself, who are some other artists (any genre) that you enjoy listening to?
Without a specific order or priority: Access to Arasaka, Sole Massif, 0 0 0, Belief Defect, X1-Y2, LORN, Cresil, REZZ, Tzafu, Swarm Intelligence, Maenad Veyl, Swarm Intelligence, Braden Koksal, Filmmaker, Jim Kimchi, meii, Prox.Bleep, Carpenter Brut, Sierra, Restive Plaggona, Pact Infernal, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and stuff in that vein.
16. If not done so already, are there plans to bring Tineidae to a live setting?
Likely the other way around (at least for now) 🙂 Back in the days of Tympanik Audio, I had some live shows and performances here and there. Currently with all the stuff happening IRL I doubt I’ll be able to properly prepare for live events, so instead i’d rather focus on production more and stream the process for anyone finding any helpful info in it.
17. Again, I truly appreciate your time and most of all, the fantastic music that you produce. Do you have any final thought for your fans or anyone else that may be reading this article?
Thank you so much for the questions, and you’re very kind. Stay true to yourself, put the most effort into what makes you feel complete or fulfilled, make your dreams into goals and plan on how to realistically achieve them (if possible of course), and most importantly try to keep your physical and mental health in check. Cheers!
For some reason, trees seem to be synonymous with all things spooky and evil. Whether it’s a darkened forest in a horror movie, or the ruffling of leaves in an evening breeze that has us looking over our shoulders for something creepy, trees create a space of frightening imagination with limitless potential for purpose. For Halloween, trees portray a gruesome shadow in the night that causes goosebumps and chills when not expected. Remember the tree in the original Poltergeist film? They also create a blockade for hiding behind so that you can jump out and scare your friends while trick or treating. Whatever the case may be, trees serve more of a purpose than the ecology for their existence. Like trees, music provides the same escape by enticing an imaginative spark for which you can escape from reality. That’s exactly the case for these twelve chilling albums. They are the soundtrack for the season and so much more. Please enjoy these summary reviews and show your support for these artists by downloading their killer albums. Happy Halloween!! 🎃
1. Lamp & Dagger – This Tape Is Haunted Too!
Lamp & Dagger is back with their second spooktacular collaboration, featuring a handful of ominous artists that aim to frighten your very existence. From Sombre Arcane’s psychedelic massacre to a modicum of Dark Ambient soundscapes from The Night Keep that feature morbid field recordings and samples. FVRFVR offers a chip tune spectacle that is part crypt hop and part nostalgic cinema. Whispering Mirror offers a droning canticle full of gruesome modulations, while Halm conjures up some disgusting field recordings to create a gruesome scene of terror. The final track by Spectral Manse proposes a climactic ending with eerie narrations, malevolent haunts and lots of dark melody that penetrates deep in the psyche, proving that the sequel is just as damning as the original offer. I’ll never get enough of these compilations so I’m already looking forward to Halloween 2023.
2. Guild Of Lore – Night Of Halloween
Dungeon synth stalwart, Guild Of Lore, steps beyond the realm of Winterstead, leaving behind the Medieval intonations to embrace a world of 80’s-influenced synthwave with elements of cinematic horror. The results are a fascinating blend of B-horror movie anthems full of ghoulish field recordings, theatrical samples and rhythmic patterns that scream the elements of classic horror film soundtracks. “Lurking In The Shadows” is a prime example of ample beats, darkwave undertones, and retrospective synths, while “The Festivities” is done in the style of a skit, with spooky narrations, haunting screams and bleak atmospherics. This is an album that’s not just enjoyable during All Hallows’ Eve, but can provide eerie entertainment throughout the year, and for many years to come.
3. Erythrite Throne – A Shade Of Melancholy In The Shadow Of Death
If your not listening to Erythrite Throne on All Hallows’ Eve, then you’re either very much afraid or have already been bitten by a post-apocalyptic zombie. In the case of the latter, perhaps ‘A Shade Of Melancholy In The Shadows Of Death’ has become the perpetual soundscape for your existence. Expertly fusing classical synth tones and the occasional blasts of tasty percussion, this is another magnum opus from the master of Dungeon Synth music. Just as the title suggests, this album is a bit more lugubrious than other Erythrite Throne albums, but that’s what makes this project so special. Especially on Halloween, this is some classically creepy music to enjoy on this malevolent night.
4. Aleksis Tristan Shaw – Crooked Teeth
The ever so cleaver Aleksis Tristan Shaw once again keeps us on our toes with a musical endeavor that defies genre categorization but is presented just in time for Halloween. These three tracks showcase beautiful, yet twisted piano melodies with a dreamy, atmospheric production. Just as the album cover suggests, I can only imagine a blurry figure sitting behind the ivories and playing these dirges to conjure up the spirits of ancient past, allowing them to provide frights once again. Although each track is different, they each have a thematic element that maintains a dark but elegant mood. A full album of these ghastly sounds would be awesome as well.
5. Wodenwyrd – The Teutoburg Massacre
Wodenwyrd presents a rather unique recording as a short narrative is read over obscure backing tracks that fusses Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient and synthwave. Read over a series of Acts (seven in all), the story summarizes the first battle between German forces and the Roman Empire around 9 AD. As compelling as the story is, the music fits perfectly and produces a brooding gray background for a malevolent narrative. There are three stand alone tracks that serve as an intro, intermission and outro and they explore more nostalgic territories such as 80’s cinema and dreamy effects. In all, this is a fantastic album and I wouldn’t mind having a series of recordings in this style.
6. Born From Pain – Begotten (1989)
Just in time for Halloween, Born From Pain delivers another compelling motion picture re-score. This time, 1989’s horror/fantasy film, ‘Begotten’, becomes the object of creativity as the quest for Dark Ambient obscurity reigns supreme. Over seventy two minutes of ethereal order becomes the pallet for rediscovering this film in a more sinister light. The film itself, is supremely bleak and a boldly obscure statement for cinema at the time of its release. If your a fan of cult filmmaker, Maya Deren, then you’ll have a good understanding of this film. As for the music, Born From Pain masterfully captures that essence with gloomy soundscapes and haunting effects that will lead to nightmarish outcomes in itself. Another fascinating adventure that I can’t recommend enough.
7. Scott Lawlor – The Livestream Series, Volume V
Scott Lawlor, the king of spatial Drone music and a jack-of-all-trades Ambient musician that never stops working and has enough released material to create the soundtrack to your very existence for years on end. On Halloween of last year, he produced a five hour livestream special that will be digitally released on Halloween this year. Spanning eleven tracks, this colossal of an album, flows like a never ending experiment through celestial voids and dark passages, as enigmatic effects combine with baneful textures to create the realm you’ve always dared to travel through. Each track presents a malefic journey through dark regions of the subconscious, bringing a terrorized reality to the forefront of the mind. Good luck getting through all five hours of this but enjoy the breathtaking adventure along the way.
8. Orcchasm – OrcChasm!
Orcchasm is truly unique experience, as we encounter a variety of musical intonations during this thirty one minute endeavor. From creepy ambience and whimsical synths to bazaar arrangements and nonstop frills, this is a musical adventure that is equally enjoyable and fulfilling. From grandiose, Medieval incantations to light, flute fills, you never know what direction the music is headed. However, hold on to your witches hat and broomsticks because this is a venture that won’t want to miss. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, showcasing a story of dark dungeons and numerous escapades. “Groping For Wild Hogs In The Dark Paphian Abyss” is my favorite track and it truly represents the musical prowess of this album as a whole. Don’t pass up on this warm journey into the wildly unknown.
9. Pumpkin Witch – The Return Of The Pumpkin Witch
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Halloween favorite, Pumpkin Witch. However, after finally rising from the Orange tomb of seasonal vegetation, they’ve returned with their most enigmatic spectacle to date, ‘The Return Of The Pumpkin Witch’. Eleven spooky anthems that provide an audial bludgeoning for almost forty four minutes, these progressive haunts are just what the doctor (or vampire or serial killer) has ordered to infiltrate your Halloween playlists. From distorted, doom-laden guitar tones and retrospective drum beats to hair raising electro sequences and synthwave tactics, this is the album that checks all the blocks for horrifying entertainment. Tape hisses and reverberated production efforts create a sinister ambiance that drives the mail in the coffin (no pun intended) for this masterful recording.
10. Ammothea – My God Is The Moon
Ammothea, the ambient-infused post metal project by Glacial Anatomy, is truly a riveting encounter that satisfies the pallet of those that enjoy the multi-genre experience. Soft, careening vocals, doom metal riffing and dreamy production yields a hypnotic effect, so that you can sit back, close your eyes and indulge in your own trip. These five tracks disperse almost sixty four minutes of playing time but, it’s over before you know it due to being completely lost in the mix of these alluring intonations. “Depth” and “My God Is The Moon” are standout tracks that incorporate a more upbeat approach without diverting away from the haunting gray that the entire album discharges. This is an extremely impressive release and I’m already looking forward to more from this artist.
11. Whöreplay – Whöreplay
A good dark wave tune goes hand in hand with the Halloween season, given its close ties to Gothic romanticism, vampires and grim landscapes. It also has provided bleak, atmospheric backdrops for scenes in classic horror films such as ‘Silence Of The Lambs’. This two track spectacle from newcomer, Whöreplay, fits right in with all of the aforementioned. Although only five minutes long, the artists wastes no time setting the listener on a collision course with haunting electronics, reverberated vocals, and a dreamy production. These tracks slice through like a jagged dagger, leaving a spot of coagulated blood for the creatures of the night to feast on.
There is no better time to come together for delivering a darkened dungeon synth experience than Halloween. Unsheathed Glory and Ozeregroth combine their talents of Medieval summonings to render a five track split album, culminating in twenty four minutes of effortless canticles set to the gloomiest night of the year. Not only does each artist produce two tracks of their own, but they collaborate on the daunting self title track. Although each artist delivers contrasting tones, they mesh together very well and and flow transparently with ominous accord. This is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth collaborations of the year and I hope these artist get together again in the future, to produce more music like this.
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Sombre Arcane is a collective that needs no introduction. Going above and beyond to produce an electrifying amalgam of Dungeon Synth music, they are quickly becoming a premier element in the genre and have amassed a favorable following. Combining an exceptional mix of electronic and traditional instruments, they successfully craft masterful pieces that become more than just songs, but an unparalleled sonic adventure. ‘Realmsong’ finds the duo in top form as they weave their spell through twelve finely crafted canticles with sheer brilliance.
Taking a wistful approach on the album opener, “The Time-Space Conundrum”, somber melodies are met with galloping instrumentals that present a classic synthwave vibe. However, before the completion of the track, Medieval harmonies and drum beats turn this atmospheric offering into a Dungeon Synth anthem. Following up with “Rhythm Of The Saintless”, a harrowing drone commences, as we wait for whatever intonation comes about. With almost a jubilant delivery, dreamy keys belt out a traditional Dungeon Synth chop. Before too long, additional chord transform this track to a battle-ready opus that elicits the fighting spirit in all of us. “A Day’s March Through The Ancient Elven Forest” brings back eloquent effects and fills the empty space with chirping birds and brisk ambient tones. A quixotic synth melody penetrates the darkened soul and loops in a much wanted pattern before percussive elements enter the mix. Keeping a serene resonance throughout, this is one for the dreamers and forest wanderers that disengage from the sense of time. “Moon Sphere Of The Dancing Court” commences with the inaudible banter of a crowded tavern and then glossy instrumentals pave the way for a peaceful transition into vast landscapes and tranquil haunts. “Dinomace” takes us back to the battlefield with a velvety cadence that instills a sense of pride and victory with each and every note. The drums are very progressive and the lush textures are a warm welcome as well. “Kelthas The Dread” follows, with a meditative sound and pensive production that constructs an abysmal scenario with a massively rich tone. There is a nice dose of distortion on some of the keys that beefs up the modulation and the overall output is that of angst and betrayal. The distressing “Dread Certainty Of Our Chosen Path” is an ominous gouge at the psyche and the emotional output that pours from within. The arioso of the main riff is not only tasty, but one that can be enjoyed over and over again. A darkened cadence is introduces and provides the feeling of a sudden loss and the ensuing dirge that is needed for comfort. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album and I’m sure many other will feel the same way about it. “Devilry Of Inertia” is a beautiful follow up to such a deep track, that it’s easy to get lost in all that’s going on. Wondrous layers of celestial ambience creates a comforting sensation. Suddenly, this transforms into a Crypt Hop masterclass with thunderous beats and whimsical melodies. Truly unexpected but also extremely enjoyable. “Lansharra’s Leavetaking” is another masterful tune, as this piece aquatints the listener to a sonic vocal that layers folk sounds with noble storytelling. I can imagine drunken commoners at a local pub in a far away ancient kingdom, paying homage to their ancestry and love ones with this amazing vocal effort. “Finley’s Rest” is another placid effort of precise instrumentation and soothing background ambience that depicts an early morning dawn of halcyon times. Layers of magical instrumentation builds throughout the track and it eloquently leads into the next track, “Jebrin’s Ride Home”. Starting with some comfy textures and a synth effects that’s buried deep in the mix, this is a luscious guitar piece that renders pastoral vibes in a jubilant countryside setting. The final track on this magnum opus is the hypnotic “Return From Dragonspear”. Mixing dark undertones with warm instrumentation, this track sets a dynamic and climactic ending to the ‘Realmsong’ story. With an alluring orchestration mixed deep in the background, everything suddenly surges to a roaring grind, as the multitude of effects clash in unison. However, it comes to a halt and is calmly replaced with a suspended piano melody that will succeed in melting hearts. The pace begins to grow again and powerful guitar and drums synchronize in a heavy but melodic ending.
Sombre Arcane first struck Medieval gold with their 2018 self-titled demo. Gaining a huge momentum (and fan base) from that effort, it help paved a path of immeasurable opportunity to excel in the wondrous Dungeon Synth community. Now, with the release of ‘Realmsong’, they’ve cemented their place alongside the genres best. This is an album of beautiful orchestrations, galloping instruments, spacey ambience and a conglomeration of other effects that results in one of the best, most diverse Dungeon Synth albums in a while. Although this album has been out since last year, I can’t recommend this one enough. Check out the link below and support this amazing artist and their craft.
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Kalamine Records has been delivering stunning releases on its Bandcamp page since 2019. The online label from Bordeaux, France specializes in Dark Ambient, Noise, Experimental music as well as a vast array of obscure genres that migrate well off the beaten path. Producing top quality material on a regular basis, it’s difficult for me to schedule these albums for a normal review as I simply don’t have the time. However, with the introduction of this column last month and the multitude of spectacular albums that Kalamine Records have put out as of late, the timing was right for me to pick ten of these albums for summary reviews. I hope you enjoy this article and please check out Kalamine Records at the links below.
1. Mono Hideout – True Lord
‘True Lord’ is a thirty three minute session of adversarial ambience that depicts a dystopian atmosphere of chaos and evil. Although these tracks are shorter than the typical Dark Ambient intonation, the urgency of soundscape buildup and dismal drones fuel a fire of angst-laden heresy that are compelling as much as they are effective at providing huge, atmospheric settings. From celestial & spirited pieces like “Harpocrates” to sinister and minimalistic drones of “The Snake Himself”, Mono Hideout has fabricated a world of dark malevolence.
2. Helecho Experimentar – OU.. OU.. Sintaxis
Helecho Experimentar combines ominous sound effects, samples and controlled noise on the brilliant release, ‘OU… OU… Sintaxis’. Commencing with a thirty six minute opus that forges a tumultuous passage through layers of obscure musical stanzas, this album presents a relentless impression of restrained noises and hasty modulations. Truly a unique recording, this will soon become an addictive listen as the effort to notice additional peculiarities throughout, are inevitable.
3. Mora-Tau – The Five Sutra
Mora-Tau has quickly become one of my favorite Dark Ambient composers and his ever-growing catalog of consistently great recordings is something to be proud of. ‘The Five Sutra’ is another paradigm of esoteric compositions that slowly portrays a story of tragedy through elongated drones, repetitive synth manipulations and a deep venture into angst-filled arrangements. This collection of retrospective anthems provide almost two hours of listening pleasure, allowing the listener enough time to mediate in its thought-provoking sound.
4. Eijra Woon – Leïla
‘Leïla’ is a compelling offering of Dark Ambient, drone, noise, glitch and a touch of EDM, all wrapped up in a audial adventure that is both seductive and thought provoking. Haunting samples and various spots of vocalizations complete this mesmerizing collection of sonic objects that will leave the listener in a relaxed state at times, as well as emitting bouts of angst during other times. These twelve tracks ebb and flow into various emotive states and the harrowing soundtrack that ensues, is sonically unparalleled. Upon completion of this sixty five minute opus, the listener may become paralyzed with emotional shock and drenched in sweat from sheer survival of the audial jolt that took place.
5. HEL – Innocently Wicked
HEL incorporates a plethora of vocal manipulations to establish a baseline of obscure ambient for showcasing a provocative blend of harmonizing textures and meaningful poetry. This anomalous recording also includes a variety of field recordings and effects to round out this massively peculiar effort. Taking a cappella to extreme realms, HEL emits an uncompromising take on enigmatic, yet experimental music. Highly recommended for those that are brave enough to indulge in uncompromising reaches into evanescent realms.
6. Christian Fiesel – Barren Land
‘Barren Land’ sounds like a dismal exploration into mystical territories during the cultivation of 70’s or 80’s progressive-influenced synthwave. Vast wastelands are brought to light with soothing orchestrations and mesmerizing drones, as tranquil modulations produce a landscape of effervescent bliss and slow-moving sequences. This one hour long track is a lot to consume, but is equally rewarding and ominous sections fuse together in a single instance, as if wandering various rooms in a mansion, searching for clues to a portentous and puzzling storyline. One thing that remains constant throughout is the vibrant drones that seem peaceful and resonant.
7. Philippe Simon – Amarante
‘Amarante’ is a colossal offering of minimalistic Dark Ambience that stretches beyond the imagination and pushes the boundaries of atmospheric synth music. At almost eighty minutes in length, these seven tracks produce a transient environment of electronic music that combine Berlin School, drone, space ambient and quirky effects with resilient results. As these long players unwind, a deluge of celestial textures tell a haunting story of abandonment and foreboding solitary confinement. These songs are equally soothing and enthralling to say the least and once you begin this epic journey, it’s hard to stop. Enjoy this sonic masterpiece and the reward is well worth the endurance.
8. Wasatch Front – I Walked Up Stairs
‘I Walked Up Stairs’ showcases a fascinating blend of Dark Ambient, industrialized soundscapes and contained noise. This is not one to relax to or have on as background music. Wasatch Front demands your full attention to the oblivion contained within these five tracks to fathom a true understanding of the audial depth that they collectively offer. Each track takes a grueling approach to the intricacies of obscurity as the listener ascends a staircase into the unknown. As the music breeches the subconscious, a perilous adventure awaits. However, be forewarned; what goes up, must come down.
9. Hostile Surgery – Into A Cold Light
‘Into A Cold Night’ contains six protracted anthems that extend to almost eighty minutes of playing time. These masterful drones mirror a creativity of malevolent proportions as they represent a barrage of hostile actions that can only be portrayed in nightmares. From deafening modulations to wavering sound effects, there is a certain demise that becomes paramount when indulging in its menacing grasp. Although each of these tracks produce a unique listening experience, the results for all of them is the same- dark, brooding ambience with rugged atmospherics that will leave the listener is a gloomier state than before listening to this massive recording.
10. Glamourie – Imaginal Stage
‘Imaginal Stage’ may just be one of my favorite recordings from Kalamine Records. It combines dark and light ambient with a touch of acoustic folk music and even some forest synth and there is so much variation on this album, it’s hard to grasp within a few listens. However, upon multiple listens, you’ll begin to experience a decaying, yet soothing journey into assorted realms of audial reassurance. On the downloadable version of this album, each track is combined with a beautiful, mystical painting that truly represents the soundscape that affectionately makes its way through the speakers (or headphones). This is such a delightful album and I highly recommend this for those that need a peaceful, meditative source to accompany them in their life excursions.
Scorpio V, the driving force behind Prometheus Studio, is back with a new album from his flagship project, Metatron Omega. One of the few acts that produces Dark Ambient music that centers around Gregorian Chants, this Warhammer 40k-themed entity magnificently fuses soothing dark choir vocalizations with minimalistic, bleak ambience, resulting in an enthralling musical experience. In what may be his most sophisticated outing yet, ‘ISIH’ is the full experience of moody, ritualistic anthems that provide a grim landscape for ancient monasteries.
Right off the bat, title track “ISIH” secures a somber atmosphere with soothing Gregorian chants and effervescent ambient tones that flow like a transparent wave of breathless energy through high mountain ranges and cold, desolate valleys. The mood turn dark, as the ambience descends into the depths of bleakness with distant chants that are more sporadic than often. However, perfectly reverberated, it emits a trance-like feeling and subdues the listener with boundless bliss. “Megalosthronos” just may be my favorite Metatron Omega track ever. Commencing with a consoling drone, a tribal-like percussive element is soon embedded, tracing back to the likes of Paleowolf – where ancient civilizations meet theatrical ambience. Once the haunting chants are fused in, it creates a level of intensity and spirit that are completely unmatched. I certainly enjoy this direction that Metatron Omega has included in its repertoire of musical genius. “Imperium Novum” bleeds minimalistic ambience and the electronic-induced vocalizations are at times terrifying and more often mind-numbing. There are sci-fi elements in the narrative inclusions, as if an alien invasion has intercepted a communication transmission from an ancient culture. The weaving chants are mesmerizing and will leave the listener wanting more. “Arhontes” begins with an enthralling wind-like nuisance with the sounds of distant howls and screams. As the droning effort intensified, so does the angst of anticipation for where this track is headed. Chants of desperation are heard in sporadic patterns and when the depth of emotion finally fades, we are left with a calming path of destruction lead by deep, guttural chants and ritualistic ambience with a repressed ferocity and celestial intent. “Vyachnost” is another spectacular track that offers a rhythmic, drum track and the solar sounds continuously build throughout. Industrialized soundscapes and peculiar effects reflect a futuristic energy that is humbly met with ancient chants and warm synth patterns. There is a break toward the end where it morphs into a deep space ambient piece before returning to true Metatron Omega fashion. Vocalizations echo the synth modulations and are barely audible. However, it creates a type of discordance that is completely tranquillizing. “Blagoslovenie” is a return to form that can be heard on the likes of ‘Illuminatio’. The Gregorian chants are prevalent throughout and provide an immense ride into dark, enchanted territories. The deep drones are alarming at times and the moments of near silence – in particular – can be frightening. However, about halfway through, drums begin to fill the air with substantial cadence and synthwave elements are also introduced, as this song begins to take shape like the soundtrack for a Medieval battle. The final track on this monstrous album is “L.U.X.”. Commencing with looping chants and reverberated effects, this track isn’t as desolate as those that preceded it. The ringing of the church bells signifies the coming to an end of a ceremonial event, while the rest of the track continues to press forward with heroic expression. As the end nears, an incessant drone continues the pace as the all-to-familiar chants become softer and more distant.
Positioned in my Top 5 favorite Dark Ambient artist list, Metatron Omega continues to produce impressive albums that remain in line with its own ritualistic thematic expression, while supremely adding new elements and surprises that expand the boundaries of listening intent. ‘ISIH’ is no exception, as it’s probably Metatron Omega’s most expressive album to date. Including dark and light ambient elements and fusing percussion is a welcomed experience and I hope more of this type will be released in the future. If you can’t get enough Metatron Omega, make sure to also check out some of the other side projects in this same vein. Monasterium Imperi has everything you know and love about Metatron Omega but is less cinematic, while offering a deeper dive into the Warhammer 40k sound. Then there is Eshaton, which is an extremely raw and abrasive version that is gritty and relentless and at times has a Dungeon Synth vibe. At any rate, it’s easy to get lost in the realm of Metatron Omega and ‘ISIH’ is a magnificent album that truly represents this artist and craft. Click on the link below to download this album and enjoy the journey that it holds.
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These days, there are all forms and styles of Dungeon Synth. There is certainly a variance that aims to please not only the seasoned Dungeon Synth fan, but also for those that are curious if this genre is the right fit for them. One artists that has taken a different approach to curating a unique brand of Dungeon Synth is Baerdcyn. A fantastic multi-instrumentalist, Baerdcyn intertwines a plethora of soulful sounds and consoling ambience to create Acoustic Dungeon Synth. With a handful of beautifully textured albums, Baerdcyn invites us into his world to discuss his particular brand of music, his instruments and well, all things Baerdcyn.
1. I really appreciate you taking the time for this interview. How has 2022 been for you so far?
Not too bad! Busy with work and life, but that’s never a bad thing.
2. When did you get the idea for the Baerdcyn project and what were some of the objectives you sought to achieve musically?
Baerdcyn started in late fall of 2020 when my friends pushed me to play Dark Souls for the 1st time. I have always had the idea of making “Acoustic Dungeon Synth” before having owned a lute and some recorders at the time from my love of historical renaissance classical music. I never brought the idea to fruition however until I heard the menu theme and the “Firelink Shrine” theme from the 1st Dark Souls. When I 1st heard these tracks, they brought to me a feeling of orchestral Dungeon Synth. I promptly made a cover of the “Firelink Shrine” theme (Which has yet to see the main light of day) and from that recording process is what led to the ideas behind my debut.
3. What’s the meaning behind the name Baerdcyn?
So the name’s meaning itself was a complete accident. And for the record for all you reading, the pronunciation is (Bard-Koon) the “ae” is supposed to be an “æ” but alas I didn’t know how to get it to work on my phone at the time. The “y” in Old English is pronounced kind of like a cross between “ew” (in “ew that’s gross”) and “oo” (in “Racoon”). Back to the meaning of the name, I originally just made it because it sounded cool, but in the long run, you could take the modern english “Bard” and the Old English “Cyn” , meaning kin or offspring, to make a meaning of “The Bard’s Kin” or a little more interpretively, “The Son of a Bard”
4. You play a variety of instruments on your albums and you seem to excel at them all. Are you self-taught or do you have any formal training?
I am self taught on all my bardic instruments. I play a few more non-bardic instruments, but the only I play that I was professionally taught was saxophone.
5. Can you give us a run down on some of the instruments that you play?
In terms of the Bardic stuff, I can play the Lute, Lyre, Classical Guitar (along with steel string and 12 string steel string guitars), Celtic Harp, Mandolin, Bowed Psaltery, Hammered Dulcimer, Hurdy Gurdy (which I don’t believe is on a recorded release…yet), Irish Penny Whistle, Bass Recorder, Soprano Recorder, Kalimba, and Tongue Drum. As for the non-bardic instruments, I play Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone Saxophones, Banjo (ragtime jazz), fretless banjo (old time folk), Bass Guitar, -very minimal- Electric Guitar and classical organ.
6. Does being professionally trained in the saxophone make it easier for understanding and playing other instruments?
I find that it makes the wind instruments I play a lot easier as it boils down to being a saxophone with less keys on it, in a simple sense.
7. What’s the backstory on your love for the saxophone? Can you read sheet music as well? If so, do you make tabs of your own music?
When I was in 5th grade, so about 11 years ago, I ended up signing up for school band and playing saxophone. As for the sheet music, I do read sheet music, but I do not make sheet music for Baerdcyn. My recording process is very improvisational, so transcribing the pieces to sheet music would make an extra step that I don’t really feel like doing.
8. Thematically and musically, you fit right in with the Dungeon Synth community. However, would you classify it as anything else
I have always believed I have sat in the realm of Dungeon Synth. Since day one, I have called myself “Acoustic Dungeon Synth” or “Dungeon Synth Unplugged”
9. Take us back to ‘The Cave Of Time’. What was the concept behind this album and was this your first recording experience or were you involved with anything prior?
So this was my 1st official recording experience. I did however have a very short lived run of a dungeon synth -with acoustic instruments too- audio drama called “The Tale of Bjorngar” which exists in it’s unfinished state on my bandcamp. The theme came from when I recorded the cover of “Firelink Shrine”. I had realized that the reverb patch I had made, when picking up myself wetting my lips, sounded like drops of water in a cave. Thus the cave theme was born.
10. In the Bandcamp notes for ‘Heritage Of The Bay’, you dedicated the album to your Grandfather. Was he a big supporter of your musical endeavors or did he have a major influence in your life?
He has and still does in both. My Grandfather is one of the leading causes of my love for nature. Living in the coastal salt swamps of southern New Jersey, we often would, and still do, go to the bay or the meadows. As a child we would spend hours just cleaning up trash and tidying up and then followed it up with a walk through the area looking for “treasures” anything from clamshells to oyster shells, long decomposed crab shells to cool rocks, driftwood to barnacle encrusted goods. You name it, I loved it. He is a major influence on my life, and keeps me going to this day. He also always gets an artist copy of my tapes when I have one to spare. You’ll most likely read this Pop, so thanks. Thanks for everything and all that you do.
11. ‘Fantasy February’ was a unique album, in that it contained short snippets of music. We’re these ideas that were never transformed into longer tracks or were these short pieces intentional.
So Fantasy February originally started as a drawing prompt challenge. I then added the idea of making a song for each picture I drew and thus the idea was made. The minute-per-song run time was due to the fact that my main platform of interaction being instagram didn’t allow videos longer than a minute at the time.
12. Speaking of snippets, you post a lot of videos on Instagram that showcases your amazing talent. Are these videos improvised?
All of the little snippets on my Instagram are improvised, yes. Being trained in Saxophone I took a deep interest in funk and jazz improv with that, and it has carried over into my newest field of music.
13. I really loved the concept of ‘Meditations Of Forests Old’. Have you considered creating a video for the main track?
I have! The release was originally to be recorded field recording style in my local trail, and then a video of a walk through was to be made to accompany it. It never came to be, but I still have the hopes of going back and doing such a thing.
14. On one of your latest releases, ‘The White Oak’, I sense some extreme somberness with these tracks. We’re these written to embellish a particular mood or experience?
Nope. I just have a knack for that somber feel, so I roll with it.
15. Your album covers are a mix of photos and drawings/sketches. Do you do all of the artwork yourself? If so, is there a story behind the development of the various characters?
I do all the art and photography myself. The Characters on the cover of my debut was just a wizard I drew, but I -might- have plans to embellish on him in the future, and the character on the inside of the J-Card from my split with Elminster is one of my friends DnD characters. Besides that not much thought goes behind the characters.
16. Speaking of your split will Elminster, that recording was amazing! Do you have any plans for future collaborations?
Not that I know of, no.
17. Do you have a goal in mind for the amount of releases you produce each year or do you release albums once you’ve completed a concept or theme and then move on to the next?
I release as I finish. Most of my themed releases start coming to mind about halfway through the previous release, but I like to release things as soon as it’s done. I absolutely hate sitting on things longer than I have to.
18. I really appreciate this interview opportunity and I’m truly a fan of your art! Any closing comments for those that may be reading this?
Thanks for having me here and thank you all that support. It means the world to me that I can bond with so many people so far away over our love for nerd music. It truly baffles me how wonderful of a community we have, and I love you all. Thank you all for everything you’ve done. Keep trekking through that dungeon, we are all gonna make it. One day or another.
Like all other genres of music, Dark Ambient comes in all shapes and sizes (figuratively speaking). A variety of sub-genres keeps this obscure pallet of music interesting and unique – to say the least. One of my favorite offsprings of Dark Ambient, is Drone. I know what you’re thinking; isn’t Drone and Dark Ambient the same? Should it be in a separate category all together? In my opinion, yes, it should be separate because there are subtleties and intricate nuances that render them differently. Drone is more experimental, minimalistic and sometimes, hard to tolerate (by those that aren’t quite familiar with this style of music). However, there is beauty amongst the controlled chaos of Drone music and it’s contents are entirely open for interpretation. As for me, I love listening to Drone music while working, reading and when I need something in the background to help me concentrate. One up and coming artist that has caught my attention is Conducive, and with their debut album, Global Makeshift Wounds, out now on Veinte 33 Records, I’m happy to report that is some of the most trance-inducing Drone music I’ve heard in a while.
This forty minute turbulent broadcast is cleft into two parts. Separately, they stand on their own as narrative transmissions that detail a dark, scenic reality that plays into the senses and provides the essence of real-world chaos. However, together, they fuse a building chronological that portrays a dismal landscape of time, brutal machinery and the inconspicuous element that spews “we are not in control.” On the surface, “Global Makeshift Wounds #1” begins with the every day sounds of a hurried life, perpetuating that we have a certain control of our destiny. However, underneath, esoteric droning commences, setting into motion a controlled, chaotic modulation of tempestuous energy of impending doom. As the volume of this monstrous effort escalates above the existence of all other natural sounds, a peculiar comfort begins to exist, taking over the listeners ability to grasp the humbleness of existence. As we continue to sink into this eclectic drone, small subtleties begin to emit imperfections with the machinery, causing angst and misguided nervousness. There is nothing that can be done, other than to give in to the systematic noise and become one with the grueling soundscapes. Just as you begin to get use to this setup, we get a semi-abrupt ending, providing a well deserved break from the pandemonium. It’s mind-blowing how this didn’t feel like twenty minutes at all. “Global Makeshift Wound #2” commences with audial samples of people moving about as if it’s part of their daily routine. Like there is no care in the world or fears of what’s to come, the calming pattern of their ordinary commotion is soon to be preempted by another dose of overworked machinery that has been put through the rigors of systematic stress and pressed beyond their capabilities with no regard for its malevolent impact of failure. By the five minute mark of this track, the exhaustive industrialism materializes in full spectrum, drowning out the majority of the quotidian annoyances. There is a magnificent power that is portrayed by these layers of drones that contributes to the overall mesmerizing output of this track, achieving a substantial audial radiance in the process. At around the eleven minute mark, a tranquillizing dose of white noises are mixed in and duplicated about a minute later, producing a menacing buzz that can be a bit terrifying for those that are not use to this kind of ambient projection. At around fifteen minutes in, all hell begins to break loose, as the machines struggle to maintain form, creating a disruptive audial flow In frequency and initiating an reprehensible cacophony of destruction. At the end of the track, the machinery gives in its catastrophic demise, diminishing all sound abruptly.
This year is shaping up to the the breakout year for Drone music. As one of the more minimalistic elements of the Dark Ambient community, Drone music is on the rise and more releases of this kind are piquing my interest more than ever. Conducive is an amazing artist that can now be added to that list and ‘Global Makeshift Wounds’ is bound to make an impact. For a debut release, this album covers a lot of ground, in particular with the audial arrangements and the exceptional production. I highly recommend checking out this album and you can support the artist by downloading it from the link below.
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It’s a tranquil Sunday afternoon and I’ve decided to take a little time to catch up on some reading, as well as to focus on my next Dungeon Synth review. Since I love to listen to music while I read, I put on ‘The Eternal Traveler’ by Nachtjäger. It was the perfect arrangement, as the somber vibes emitted from this album played in to the harrowing novel that I was reading. This near seventy minute opus consists of eleven tracks that range in a myriad of synth varieties, albeit remaining steadfast in the realm of Dungeon Synth. The result is an amazing adventure through bleak – but alluring – domains, with minimalistic modulations and calming synth leads.
“My Watchtower In The Darkness” commences with a darkened intonation that would be fitting for a Medieval crusade. Slightly grim, yet composed in a way that exudes strife and victory. With a dirge-like cadence, this is such an emotional song to kick things off. “Crystalline Caverns” is one of my favorite songs on the album with its eerie vibe and haunting ambience that is detailed throughout. Limpid synth leads establishes a transparent connection with the layers of bleak atmospherics, causing a ritualistic effect. “Traveling On Spectral Vessels” once again changes the vibe of the album, giving off a lighthearted appeal that is enough to sooth a savage beast. Well written, there is a plethora of melodic parts and they are woven together seamlessly in an orchestral fashion. “Woodland Sanctuary” is a chilling abode with minimalistic drones and sparse synth leads. However, this approach is extremely effective, especially with creating an emotional sound of theatrical proportions. “Insights Born From Ashes” again alters the audial course and gives forth a Renaissance-era anthem with gothic undertones and slightly reverberated keys. “Lost Scripts Of Old” is an enticing piece that includes a psychedelic vibe and clean synth leads that are reminiscent of the Comfy Synth sub-genre. There are several layers of keys that create a delicate harmony and the outcome is quite mesmerizing. “Ancestral Homelands” takes us back to a darker sound, almost emitting a Black Metal-style song introduction. However, whimsical effects elicit a funereal vibe and concludes with a buildup of synth leads that has a massive sound. “Winds Tell Of A Dying Age” is constructed like a saddened symphony, with a reluctant pace and a passionate arrangement that is redolent of somber times and post-war struggles. Without a doubt, this is the most elegant track on the album and another of my personal favorites. “Astral Signs In The Northsky” is a besieging song that combines many elements of ambient music and Dungeon Synth variants. The slow climb and descent of the musical scale is fused with eccentric synth effects, producing a slightly lurid sound that ends rather abruptly. “Heralds Of The New Dawn” is a dreamy little dirge with retrospective effects and a heartfelt arrangement that combines rhythmic tones and atmospheric expression. The final track on the album is a majestic masterpiece. “Transcendental Relics” is a twenty three and a half minute long treasure that integrates soothing ambience and elongated synth tones is an epic symphonic composition. There are bits of synthwave, orchestral arrangements, and obscure melodies throughout that definitely keep this long player interesting and most of all, relevant to the theme of the rest of the album. With a substantial amount of reverb, this song sounds really thick and quixotic, demanding multiple listens with it’s addictive appeal. This is my favorite song on ‘The Eternal Traveller’ and such a beautiful way to finalize this exhilarating album.
Nachtjäger has successfully produced an amazing Dungeon Synth experience with ‘The Eternal Traveller’. With tracks that transfer the lister to majestic dimensions of castles, Medieval setting and mystical elegance, this album is a spectacle of synth amazement that resists genre tags and symbolizes musical growth in the community. If you’ve not heard this album, I highly recommend checking it out and please support the artist by downloading it from the link below.
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Last year was a tremendous year for the Dungeon Synth community. We saw a plethora of albums being released by a lot of our seasoned favorites, cassette releases all over the place, and a ton of new artists making their way on the scene with various intonations of the genre and gaining a stronghold of fans that typically remain loyal to the music and fascination that it brings. One of those new artists, Landsraad, was a standout in my book with the mesmerizing album ‘The Golden Path’. Paying homage to the Dune series, that album could have easily been an unreleased soundtrack to the classic movie of the same name. The album was also in my “Top 10” list for Dungeon Synth albums of 2021. Fast forward to August of this year, and we are greeted with the sophomore follow-up album, ‘Fate; The Inevitability Thereof’ and another trip back into the Dune universe. How does this album stack up to the debut? Let’s take a deeper dive into each track to find out.
From the opening progression of “A Secret Meeting//Edrics Precience”, the fantasy-based synth harmonies present a range of otherworldly emotions and melodies. Berlin School styled sequences places the listener directly in the middle of the Dune Universe, in the presence of a sandstorm of influential characters and fascinating plight. This is a beautiful album opener that respects the thematics of classic storytelling and fictional magnificence. “Face Dancer” immediately opens up with a bold modulated synth sound and an array of leads that build off each other, but always seem to be in unison in this heralded composition. “A Body In The Sand” is a light-hearted track that flows like a brisk breeze over vast mounds of endless sand, while the heat radiates off of its bright surface, producing hints of valuable spice. As if moving in slow motion, the droning nature of this track will leave one breathless and wanting more. “The Lion Throne//Walking The Path” brings a musical shift toward darker, somber tones and audacious radiance. Bringing back a classic, synthwave sound that will resonate with fans of 80’s electronica, the rhythmic succession of tone in this track leads to bleak adventures in euphony as imaginative excursions play out in the subconscious. The melodic journey really picks up with “Hayt”. The opening harmony is memorable and would last a lifetime (if I had my way). As one of my favorite songs on this album, it truly transcends categorization and could easily be included in a motion picture soundtrack. The sequential intonations casually ascend into a world of honor and dignity. “Stoneburner” continues on with the same emotive spirit of the previous track and the monumental music it contains creates an imposing force of majestic synth wizardry. This is another treasured track that is sure to gain multiple listens from fans of electronic music in general. Truly a masterclass in exquisite synth compositions. “Scytale (feat. Thanaphos)” returns to the buoyant sounds of the first several tracks, with dreamy passages and warm droning ambience in the background. This is an enlightening foray into more peaceful times and the arrangements are just a bundle of ear candy, full of tonal flavors that can’t be resisted. “Abomination Pt. 2” is a ballad of sorts, with minimal use of Berlin School sequences and deep pounding synth pads that thicken the sounds of this semi-upbeat performance. It’s as if a daunting trip to find a land of paradise, finally played out in the favor of the songs protagonist, proving the journey was worth the battle to get there. “All Things Yet To Be Said” is another noteworthy achievement that includes crisp, Berlin School patterns, wavy celestial drones and resolute synth leads that describe a drama unfolding with only the use of alluring arrangements. “Bijaz//Oracle” is an introspective offering that features an ornate harmony arrangement that is kind of hidden behind a wall of reverberated chaos. However, if you listen closely, you’ll be able to find a soothing culture of tones that are simply amazing. The albums final song, “A Path Broken//Walking Into Dune” is a breathtaking display of conclusive audial proponents that combine the efforts of the previous songs into an awe-inspiring summation. Multiple layers of haunting melody calmly collide with synth leads that extend beyond the reaches of space, yet gather all of the sounds into a cluster of tonal perfection. This track is such a a wonderful outro to this chapter of Landsraad’s Dune Universe and leave plenty of room for more innovative synth compositions to come in the future.
Landsraad is such an amazing project and it’s hard to categorize the true genre of the music contained within the highly impressive (but small) catalog of album. Of course there is a traditional Dungeon Synth influence but Landsraad also incorporates classic synthwave, Berlin School, soaring harmonies, and an amazing theme to produce a signature sound that can’t be denied. ‘Fate; The Inevitability Thereof’ is a thoroughbred recording of the highest caliber and just may end up on my year end Top 10 list. I highly recommend checking this album out as it has so much variety to offer. Also, the songwriting is out of this world and will surely peak the interest of those that love a good science fiction themed musical outing.
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