The Wyndham Research Institute Constructs A Retro-Grade Space Ambient Album With The Cosmic, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ Release

When we think about the characteristics of space ambient music, usually deep, prolonged drones come to mind and they are complimented by resounding soundscapes that are celestial in nature. As a listener, we often feel as if we are alone on a spacecraft traveling through deep space on a doomed mission. However, not all space ambient albums have to carry out the same accord and that’s none more apparent than on the latest album by Wyndham Research Institute, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’. Elongated drones are replaced with retro synths and cosmic soundscapes that are more inline with a 60’s science fiction show soundtrack than modern space ambient. Fortunately, that’s the beauty of versatility in music and the creative complex. Although these compositions seem nostalgic, they are effective in creating a dark, intricate atmosphere that’s perfect for any ordinary space adventure.

Each of the seven tracks are presented as notes, as if to represent a transmitted sequence at a particular point of time. Right from the start, “Note I” has a retrospective feel and presents sound effects that could have be heard on a 60’s science fiction show. Minimalistic noises and tones serve as a beacon of nostalgia, just as older spacecraft lack the technology of newer ones. “Note II” begins with obscure modulation bends and frequency adjustments, as a smooth drone sets in to define the mission at hand. Organic effects tend to be a bit distorted and at around the halfway point, more antiquated tones generate a puzzling nuance as if an impromptu meeting with a foreign being is about to take place. The start of “Note III” reminds me of a special effect that Tool or Voivod would use, just before setting into a crushing riff. However, Wyndham Research Institute decides to dial back the noise to a low-frequency drone and more obscure soundscapes. Random ticks and buzzes play on throughout the track, making this a really unique experience. “Note IV” commences slowly into a hollow drone with piercing signals mixed in. Soon after, an 80’s-style horror themed synth pattern begins to play, making this one of the most terrifying tracks on the album. Assorted scratches and screeches intensify the scene as these unidentifiable patterns can only mean mayhem. “Note V” is like a spark of controlled chaos, as various discordances are fused together to present a grueling environment filled with intense moments and obscure happenings. Melodic keys are played throughout, adding a bit of peculiarity to this bizarre track. “Note VI” is one of the most accessible songs yet, as the smooth flowing drones prevail from the very beginning and ascend into layers of deep space bliss. Light soundscapes and an acoustic guitar strum are introduced as well, creating an intoxicating adventure. However, the additional attributes don’t last too long, as they slowly fade out and all that’s left is an austere drone to finish out the track. The final song on the album is “Note VII”. Commencing with a high-pitched frequency vibration and distorted ambience, the track shape-shifts into a mild-tempered hum with a slight Berlin School influence. The heartbeat-like percussive element is a welcomed sound to this final track as many new musical forms are merged together to what may be the best track on the album. The final minute consists of a continuous hiss, reminiscent of a combustion chamber of a spacecraft, thwarting a lonely cosmonaut into the far reaches of the universe.

Wyndham Research Institute have uniquely carved their own path for creating a variety of Dark Ambient, influenced by science fiction of an obsolete sound. This is also a breath of fresh air in the ever-growing Ambient community where modern, complex themes dominate most recordings. ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ is a rare treat for the Space Ambient sub-genre and is an unprecedented achievement for modern synth music. I highly recommend checking out this album so please support Wyndham Research Institute by download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://wyndhamresearch.bandcamp.com/album/interim-report-no-57-io-transmitter-sub-committee

Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2020

What an amazing year for Dungeon Synth (and other underground synth-based genres). This year has exploded with some of the most absorbing musical ventures my ears have been privileged to hearing. Whether it’s the grimness of Vampyric Dungeon Synth, the obscurity of Comfy Synth or the enlightenment of Berlin School dark synthwave, I embrace all of these sub-genres with the hopes of finding the most amazing music possible. Although there were hundred (possibly thousands) of Synth-based releases over the past twelve months, this is a list of my 10 favorite albums of the aforementioned sub-genres. I hope you enjoy…what I’ve been enjoying!

10. Moss Golem – Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-witches-blood-and-angel-tears

What better way to get things started than with a dose of Uncomfy Synth! Moss Golem may be categorized by some as Comfy Synth but this is light years from it. It’s more like a menagerie of darkened dungeon synth arrangements with colossal black metal screams and I absolutely love it. Of the small handful of releases by Moss Golem this year, ‘Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears’ is my favorite.

9. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

https://woodedmemory.bandcamp.com/album/my-secret-horror

‘My Secret Horror’ caught me by surprise this year, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so amazing. Don’t get me wrong, 2019’s ‘The Lost Stories’ was great, but this one is so much better. From the illustrious arrangements to the phenomenal production, I’ve really enjoyed this album and it, accordingly, deserves a spot on my Top 10 list.

8. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/imagination-never-fails

Erang takes us on a mythical journey like no other! From brooding musical-like tracks and symphonic marvels, to traditional dungeon synth and synthwave, Erang leaves no stone unturned and is one of the most ingenious synth artists out today. ‘Imagination Never Fails’ is an addictive listen and I revisit this one quite often.

7. Borg – Woodland

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland

Borg is as quirky as they are talented and this modern day Medieval-style music with analog instruments (and numerous unconventional undertones) is to be taken seriously. ‘Woodland’ is a fantastic album and showcases their capability for idiosyncratic arrangements, as well as more serious sounding tunes that may have well fit in on some cult spaghetti western films. Absolutely amazing!

6. Guild Of Lore – Autumn Bohollow

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/autumn-bohollow

Guild Of Lore is the real deal! The hybrid combination of cinematic elements and dungeon synth makes this one of the most unique albums of the year. The production and arrangements are perfect and the writing will leave listeners (and possibly other artists) in awe of the amazing talents that spew from within. If you’ve not heard this album, you’re definitely missing out!

5. Abholos – Whispers From The Dark Sea

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/whispers-from-the-dark-sea

Abholos is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth projects and I look forward to these release than perhaps most other artists. The fusion of retro-style synth arrangements and maritime soundscapes is exactly what I love to listen to and not many others excel at it more than Abholos. ‘Whispers From The Dark Sea” is my most listened to Abholos album and one of my favorite releases of 2020.

4. Lurk – From The Depths Of Y’ha-nthlei

https://lurkmusick.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-depths-of-yha-nthlei

I knew after being just two minutes in to this album that it was going to end up on my Dungeon Synth AOTY Top 10. The crystal clear production makes it possible to enjoy the outstanding music, soundscapes and samples that grace this behemoth of an album. From start to finish, this album rips and I cannot wait for the next dose of Lurk to come about!

3. Jenn Taiga – Plight

https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight

I listen to this album at least once a week. I mean it’s that good and just puts me in a zone that almost no other album can do. Consisting of two tracks that are nearly forty three minutes long, there is definitely enough time to drift off into another world that depicts a scene of sonic beauty. Heavily influenced by Berlin School and progressive space rock, this enchantment of a recording should be on everyone’s playlist by now!

2. Mystica Visio – Mystica Visio

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com/album/mystica-visio

‘Mystica Visio’ is probably one of the best albums (of any genre) that I’ve heard this year. Gustavo Jobim is an award-winning musician that decided to try his hand at Dungeon Synth this year and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. Not only is this an amazing album, but the track “Spell Of Entrapment” is probably my song of the year for this genre. This album is an absolute must for your collection!

1. Varkâna – Cosmic Terror

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror

Varkâna’s ‘Cosmic Terror’ was released in May of this year and its still one of my most played albums. This Lovecraftian-themed endeavor features some of the most meaningful tracks I’ve ever heard, and the emotional output is only topped by the amazing musicianship, pristine song arrangements and writing. All of these elements combined have made this my Dungeon Synth / Synth album of the year for 2020.

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com

Solo Works Of Gustavo Jobim:

https://gustavojobim.bandcamp.com

http://www.gustavojobim.com

The Genre Eclipsing, Progressive Synth Compositions On Jenn Taiga’s ‘Plight’, Are Nothing Short Of Extraordinary

This album has been in my queue to review for several months now but due to my hectic schedule and backlog of review requests, it’s taken me longer than expected to get to this. Well, the time is finally here and I must say that this is one of my most anticipated reviews of the year. Jenn Taiga is a phenomenal musician and songwriter and on her latest effort, ‘Plight’, the bar has been raised yet again, as two long-form compositions show strong multi-genre influences including Berlin School, 70’s Progressive Space Rock, Krautrock and avant-garde. In addition, these pieces will take the listener on a retro-futuristic journey like no other.

The opening keyboard arrangement from “Solivagant” sounds similar to an outlandish communication pattern from an unidentified craft from outer space, trying to make an initial contact. After a few minutes of this abstract melody, it dwindles down into a decaying deep tone to make room for a slowly ascending synth pattern that sets a galloping pace while various leads fill the airwaves with crushing sounds of nostalgic audible poetry. At various times throughout this twenty plus minute track, the galloping rhythm in the background changes octaves to match the cacophonous effort that continues to take center focus. At around the nine and a half minute mark, the background sequence is modified into a slightly different rhythm, bringing a new found dexterity to the track. The continued use of various effects on the lead parts are simply exhilarating and it’s just so easy to close your eyes and get lost in this massive adventure. The second and final song on the album is the massive twenty two plus minute long ‘Proteus’. After a few seconds of silence, harsh modulations permeate, creating a sense of isolation, then frantic frequencies spread at a rapid pace before an old-school synth interpretation begins a trotting loop. Layers of lead synths and keys build a massive wall of sound that takes the listener back in the past and forward into the future, as if they’re embedded into an 80’s style video game with modern technological themes. The swaying, saucy synths around the fourteen minute mark are some of the most intriguing works on the album and definitely one of the highlights for me personally. I could listen to this stuff all day! The final four minutes of this track are special as well, as the echoing effects on the keys are both eerie and compelling. As the end approaches, the echo effect increases, becoming louder and more predominant, ending this album on a distraught high note.

Jenn Taiga has created an extremely special album with ‘Plight’. With hints of retro, Berlin School influence from artists such as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, as well as progressive space rock from the 70’s, there are also modern twist and turns to keep the sound fresh and relevant. This album does an excellent job of absorbing the listener and emerging them into a completely different world for it’s forty three minute duration. Without a doubt, it’s one of my most played albums of the year, and the cassette release sounds even better. I highly recommend checking this out and supporting this exceptional artist! Click on the links below and enjoy ‘Plight’!

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Links:

https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight

Cassette Release:

https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/plight