When it comes to Dungeon Synth music, it’s almost as if it’s an “open source” genre of musical incantations. Meaning that almost any form of musical styles can mesh and blend with the basic aesthetics of Dungeon Synth without taking away its original intent. That’s why I love artists that put their own spin on the genre, providing a fresh atmosphere for all to enjoy. One artist in particular that travels down this path is Abandoned Graves. With the release of their first full length album, various electronic genres are explored and seamlessly mesh with the traditional foundations of Dungeon Synth music. The results of this is ‘Salvation’, a thirty eight minute journey into the abysmal infrastructure of electronic music that is gripping and transcendental, to say the least.
Poignant album opener, “Spring’s Lament” commences with a corrosive modulation that wavers viciously before fading into a minimalist tone with a lethargic echo effect. This tonal delivery begins the slow dive into Dungeon Synth madness and the sky becomes the limit at this point. Suddenly, a quirky, chip tune sound develops into a fun but menacing anthem. As this short track fades out into oblivion, the darkened textures of “The Dreamer” start to unfold. The deep, atmospheric drones are met with sporadic synthwave modulations that gradually expands into an electronic escapade through various styles. However, this eclectic fusion of expression coalesces into a grandiose offering that is upbeat and surprisingly accessible. Up next is the melodramatic offering, “The Board”. As the somber intonations start up, the dreamy synth effects evolve into a chaotic piece with heavily modulated synths and harrowing background ambience. As if descending into a nightmare, a blend of mesmerizing tones take this song down a darker path than the precious ones. Almost dipping into noisecore, it ultimately subsides into a peaceful Dungeon Synth canticle of harmonizing effort. “The Tower” doesn’t waste any time meshing various tones in a hauntingly beautiful harmony that finds a blend of warm ambience and light-hearted synth chops. However, that all soon comes to an end as we begin to hear pulsating drum beats and deep ambient drones, as a sinister atmosphere comes about. Industrial samples and radiant textures expose a multitude of horrors before -once again – morphing into a Berlin School styled synthwave anthem. This is definitely my favorite track on the album and my only wish was that this song was a little longer. The title track, “Salvation”, starts with an orient-styled effect but sparingly incorporates more sounds to create an amusing jingle that provides a soulful gateway to the next track. With “First Grave”, we get to experience natural sounds of nocturnal essence with the slight howl of crashing waves. Ambient textures begin to build into a tumultuous affair with looping drones and obscure effects. As this song evaporates into an audial radiance, we once again get to experience a shift in styles as the twists begin to unfold. Jolting modulations and bombastic Medieval cadences begin to consume the airwaves and vast layers become a musical fortress to these ears. The final track on the album, “The Crypt”, is a full on ambient nightmare, complete with ghoulish drones and creepy sound effects throughout. At just over seven minutes long, a lot is crammed into this bleak offering. Even with all of the malevolent effects, there is a sense of calming throughout that seems more minimalistic than chaotic. That being said, this is a cold, desolate way to close this impressive album and one that will stay in my playlist rotation for sometime to come.
Abandoned Graves has presented a fine experience with the multi-genre offering, ‘Salvation’. Although firmly staying rooted in Dungeon Synth, the Keep gates have swung wide open for the inclusion of an assortment of electronic music styles. That being said, there is a lot to take in on this recording and there is never a dull moment throughout. If an eccentric fusion of music is your thing, then I highly recommend checking out this monumental album. Please click on the link below to begin your listening experience with Abandoned Graves.
Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!
As one of the harbingers of Psychedelic Dungeon Synth music, Psyclopean has developed a passion for producing an ominous blend of nostalgic Dungeon Synth and curious musical obscurities that paints a cinematic landscape of futuristic remembrance. On the projects latest album, ‘Nostalgiamancer’, Psyclopean reaches deep within the psyche of wistful modulations to deliver an album worth being called a soundtrack for pneumatic endeavors. Over an hours worth of retentive musical excursions (including two epic-sized tracks), this album is one meditate to, as well as to exercise one’s own thought patterns for eternal cleansing.
The album opener, “Hypnosynchromystical Transfiguration” is nearly sixteen and a half minutes of transcending electronic music that is exactly what’s needed to commence this hypnotizing journey. Beginning with retrospective synth effects and a short spoken-word narrative, this track quickly sets a tone for magical and enchanting adventures. Hisses, crackles and pops are some familiar production tactics to give this a nostalgic vibe and thoughts of yesteryear primarily consume the listeners thoughts. Soon after, psychedelic sequences take over and thicken the overall sound, inputting a dreamy sense of melody in the process. As one part flows into the next, we are presented with an arrange of instrumentation, such as acoustic guitar and trance-like percussive elements. As the song seamlessly continues, each phase flows perfectly into the next, allowing the listeners to create their own adventures that match the serene harmonies within. From faster cadence sections to whimsical compositions and exerting in between, this track is such a majestic offering. Up next is “The Uncanny Valley”. At just under four minutes in length, this is one of the shorter songs. However, where it falls short in playing time, it’s made up for in the masterful melodies and impressive use of tracking to make the most out of the lead sections. Beginning with a war-like pounding of the drums, this song transparently molds into several influences before closing in a sea of spacey bliss. “A Walk Among The Ruins” is probably one of the most beautiful songs in Psyclopean’s entire discography. A soothing synth melody continuously plays in the background while haunting orchestrations flow higher in the mix. Creating a landscape of melancholic passion, it’s hard not to elicit an emotional response. Toward the end, clean synth leads breathe new life into the song, as if one is in a deep meditative state or whisked away in a territory of astral projection, where distant stars slowly move closer within reach. “Noble Sons Of Celephais” is more of a Dungeon Synth track in the traditional synth, relying on bold Medieval incantations rather than vivid visions of the imagination. The mesmerizing synth leads mesh well with the background ambience and occasional percussive spots, as there are some massive theatric moments during this five minute masterpiece. “Life Is A Weird Fiction (Which We Narrate To Ourselves)” is the ultimate reputation of what this album stands for and is pretty much an adventure within the adventure. With a playing time of nearly twenty six minutes, there is a lot to uncover in this relic of a story. As the tape hisses commence, so do the dreamy synth leads that are reminiscent of classic symthwave effects. Various electronic patterns are synchronized in a way that shouldn’t work, but this song quickly comes together as a unified musical wonder. There are a lot of ambient patterns, as well as Berlin School sequences that are audible throughout, and it’s all arranged so sensationally, that it’s hard to tell when the various sections of this song begin and end. The assorted tones and effects represent an arrangement of colors and shapes that are dominate visuals for this audial escapade. As the shapes and colors bend and shift, the music takes shape in hypnotic fashion, ensuring that nothing else is interfering with this sonic journey. The final song on the album is “Court Of The Somber Queen” and it introduces some actual singing, slightly distorted by wavy effects. Another short piece, this is a very appealing way to close out this psychedelic experience. Complete with soothing synths and acoustic guitar passages, I get the sense that this is the song that awakens the soul and brings a sense of reality back to the listener.
Psyclopean continues to outdo previous efforts with something bolder, more creative and enjoyable than the last. As a big fan of Psyclopean’s back catalog, I can proudly say, this is the strongest effort yet from this project. From epic song lengths to a variety of tones and effects, ‘Nostalgiamancer’ is the ultimate listening experience for those that enjoy a bit of variety in your Dungeon Synth music. Head on over to the link below and down this album and don’t forget to experience the back catalog as well. This year is already starting off with a bang, thanks to enchanted albums like this one.
Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!
The first time I heard Skuggkonungen, it was an instant gratification to these ears. A masterful blend of my favorite musical genres to include Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient and Berlin School, this kindred fusion of Medieval resolve produces an output of top notch synth music that is really impressive and warming to listen to. I recently had the opportunity to communicate with the entity behind the project and found a humble, yet engaging dude that loves making music. Heres what he had to say:
1. I really appreciate this interview opportunity and Happy New Year to you. How’s 2023 going so far?
Likewise! Thank you! So far it´s going pretty good! Me and my wife spent New years eve in a cabin in the countryside with some friends. How was yours?
2. It was time we’ll spent with family, thanks for asking. I’m always interested in learning about an artists beginnings. How did you learn of Dungeon Synth and what made you want to play this style of music?
I was always kind of aware of it. I heard about Mortiis when i was a young ultra-TRVE teenage metalhead, but i was not at all interested in electronic music at that point, it was far later that i “noticed” DS. I got really interested in it in 2019/2020 when i was dming a lot of fantasy ttrpgs, it was the perfect music to have in the background, or just when writing or just chilling out. I´ve played in punk and metal bands since i was 13 and later “discovered” electronic music, and started making it myself when i was 16-17. I was drawn to the aspect of making music yourself without other people, not needing to compromise which im sure that everyone who has ever been in a band will know all about. I think what drew me to try and make it myself was just experimentation. That´s how i usually learn how to do things, by trying out a specific genre, or technique like: “Hmm i wonder if i could make a techno track, let´s try”. One of the things that drew me towards it was the sense of DIY, especially the culture of releasing on tapes. I have a unhealthy obsession with cassette tapes haha.
3. Your first album, ‘Det Glömda Landet’ has a lot of Dark Ambient textures. Is that another genre of music that influenced your brand of Dungeon Synth?
I´m a bit ashamed to say that i have ZERO experience with dark ambient haha. I´ve surely enjoyed some dark ambient artists/bands but I could not tell you like a single band/artist name im afraid! Det glömda landet was as you probably know inspired by a ttrpg campaign I ran for my wife and some friends, so I was mostly trying to capture the feeling of that setting (which is so amazing, please check out Forbidden lands) and the vibe of the characters.
4. Where you going for a particular theme with this collection of songs?
The campaign that we played focused a lot on an ancient demon slowly gaining power in the region that the players were in, so I tried to capture that vibe of impennding doom. Two of the players were Orcs belonging to basically a death cult so that was a theme I tried to incorporate as well. I wanted to make a tribute to the campaign and to my players, something that they could listen to and remember those game sessions.
5. On ‘Västmarken’, I notice a shift in ethereal soundscapes, was this in an attempt to expand your overall sound?
I actually wrote most of Västmarken before Det glömda landet, but I remember trying to make something more ambient and not so melody driven. I have a modular synth that I remember using a lot on those sessions. Im a very lazy musician and I try to be very cautious of just doing the same thing over and over again, so I try and make music in very different ways and I think Västmarken is a perfect example of that, just trying a different approach.
6. I love how dreamy this album sounds and it seems to embody a particular celestial spirit. What is the meaning of this album for you?
I recorded most of Västmarken in the late summer of 2021, and I remember playing a lot of Skyrim and Stardew Valley on my switch at that time and I definetly think that influenced the sound of it! I think it reflects on that period of late summer, autumn is slowly creeping in, in sweden the late summer and early autumn is kind of a very somber, or bittersweet time. It gets very dark and cold, but in the same time it´s very beautiful. I enjoy that time very much and i wanted to capture that feeling i think.
7. My introduction to this project was the amazing release, ‘Månens Vidunderliga Kraft’ and again, it shifts toward a very minimalistic vibe. What was the influence for this recording?
Månens vidunderliga kraft was the first Skuggkonungen music I ever recorded actually! I sent it off to a couple of labels, I was expecting rejection but hopefully someone would give me some constructive feedback so I was kind of amazed when Voices of the Ainur wanted to release it! So I think the minimalism of it was mostly due to me not knowing how to write “Dungeon synth”! The phrase “Månens vidunderliga kraft” was something that came to me when I was working night shifts at my job. It translates roughly to: “The wondrous power of the moon”, I thought there was something powerful about that sentence. It´s like an incantation in a way, or a warning. Beware the wondrous power of the moon. I always like to start with something in that vein when I start a new project, a phrase, word or vibe that will go on throughout all the album.
8. The title track for that album has such enlightening harmonies. What instruments did you use to record that song?
Thank you! I´m pretty sure the main melody is a electric piano patch on my Korg volca FM, I also used an access virus TI Snow for the pad, and the Korg Minilogue for other chords and melodies. The Minilogue in particular is one of those synths that I’ve used on all Skuggkonungen releases.
9. As you may know, ‘Dar Skuggor Aldrig Bleknar’ was included in my Top 10 Dungeon Synth albums of 2022. What does the title mean (In English) and what was your focus for these icy cold songs?
And I’m so thankful for that! I was kind of amazed when I saw it! Där Skuggor aldrig bleknar translates (roughly) to: Where shadows never pales”. The concept was sort of a place where the veil between the living and the dead were very thin, a place where shadows never pales, where no one is ever truly gone or there. The inspiration for that actually came from the Lucio Fulci movie “The Beyond”, I wont spoil it but if you´ve seen it, you´ll know…It also came from negative experiences with my last job. My line of work can be very hard emotionally and I really felt like a lot of the anxiety and dread that I was carrying around went into that album.
10. The title track has a Berlin School influence – which is one of my favorite synth styles. Could you see yourself doing a Berlin School-styled project?
It´s one of my favorite styles as well! I think I’m leaning pretty heavily into Berlin school, sometimes I think to myself that I’m not even a “Dungeon synth artist” anymore haha. But I love that most people in this scene is actually very cool with artists expanding and experimenting with other genres inside the DS “sphere” if you will.
11. Your latest album, ‘Analoga Ritualer’ has a heavy use of Berlin School sequences but the base music form is almost like a return to your earlier albums. How did this album come together?
I think that it´s a combination of me listening to a lot of tangerine dream and trying to experimenting and trying to refine my own sound. It´s hard to define your own voice in a way, and that was something i was definetly aware of when making that album, and that reflects in the name: “Analogue rituals”, I’m trying to conjure up my own music. I usually write my music in “Manic episodes”. No Skuggkonungen album has taken more than two weeks to write and record. I wanted to capture that in that particular album.
12. Of all the albums you’ve released, which is your favorite?
Im very fond of Det glömda landet. Mostly because of the memories attached to it. But all of my releases has a sentimental value for me.
13. How has the feedback been from your fans on the output of these albums?
I’m not sure actually haha. I love getting feedback but I suffer from intense shyness and a pretty bad self-confidence so I get kind of embarrassed when people compliment my music. Dont get me wrong: I’m very proud of my music and the success I’ve had but i always kind of feel like one of these days people are going to go: “Wait a minute, his music is shit”. This is a very swedish way of seeing things haha. We have something called “Jantelagen” which is a swedish mentality of: “Dont think you´re better than anyone”. It´s kind of hardwired into almost all swedes. A perfect example of this is this: Everytime I send music to a label I think: “They are probably going to reject me and tell me not to quit my day job”. On the flipside it kind of keeps you humble I guess.
14. What are your recording plans for 2023 and are there any additional surprises in store for us?
I’m becoming a Father in March so I’m not sure how music I will actually be able to make but I got a lot of music done that I’m looking to sign! I got a very special release with a “big” label in the pipeline but im not sure how much I can talk about it, so i´ll leave it at that haha. Im very interested in working with some labels I’ve released with in the past so hopefully that will work out! At the moment I’m gearing up to record a full-on Berlin school EP based upon the concept of Ancient astronauts and Erich Von Dänikens interesting (but full of bullshit takes) book “Chariot of the gods”. I’ve also played around a lot with my old gameboy so I have a lot of “chiptune Dungeon synth” that I don’t know what to do with haha. AND as a last surprise..: I recently started working on a follow-up or sequel if you will to Det glömda landet, based on the new West marches style Forbidden lands campaign I’m running!
15. Again, I appreciate the opportunity for this Interview and most of all, the wonderful music. Do you have any final words for those that may be reading this interview?
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed and for supporting my music, I really appreciate it alot! Keep buying tapes and if you want to support my music directly be sure to check out my bandcamp. And thank you to all the nice people who are saying nice things about my music!
This was another amazing year for the Dark Ambient genre and again, I had a very difficult time fine tuning my Top 10 list. If truth be told, I could have probably created a Top 50 list. Many mainstay projects created some of their best music ever, while a lot up up and coming artist created spectacular albums that could easily compete with the best of them. Either way, these 10 albums are my favorite of the year and I’m excited to share them with you. How many of these albums made it to your Top 10 list?
10. Blackweald – From The Dust Of The Old Hungarian Plains, Emerges The Invisible Claw That Drags Us Into Our Rotting Grave
Blackweald always leaves an quite an impression with each release. On his sole release from 2022, we get to experience a bold blend of space ambient, mesmerizing drones, soundscapes, narrative samples and enough field recordings to create a series of audial adventures that are spread across a ninety minute platform. Not as dark as previous efforts but certainly versatile enough to appeal to a wider audience in the electronic/ambient community.
9. God Body Disconnect – Spiral Of Grief
God Body Disconnect never disappoints and I’m always looking forward to a new album by this project with eager anticipation. On ‘Spiral Of Grief’ we get a nice dose of the traditional narrative parts with soothing drones and soundscapes that are hypnotizing from start to finish. Tracks such as “Memories Become Distant Rooms” and “The Fathomless Heart” are downright otherworldly. However, as peaceful as this recording is, there is an underlying darkness – in the form of desolation – that gives these tracks extra meaning.
8. Ajna – Mors Ultra
Ajna creates a slowly deteriorating realm of alluring drones and space ambient elegance on the nearly two and a half hour opus, ‘Mors Ultra’. Defining a process that lethargically gnaws at the psyche and combining it with an acumen of tonal clarity, this is a highly addictive album that has garnered a lot of playtime from me, hence earning a spot on my list of favorites Dark Ambient albums for this year. Not having a dull moment on the entire album, each track will have you listening (and understanding) with grave enthusiasm.
7. Eshaton – Arheia
This is one of my new favorite projects by Scorpio V. The mastermind behind Metatron Omega and Monasterium Imperi, presents another take on the Warhammer 40k sound with a much rawer style and delivery. Looping tape hisses and layers of Gregorian chants pave the way for this thirty four minute long track, as the grainy production and synth delivery is quite unique and enlightening. ‘Arheia’ presents a dark unknown from an ancient civilization that is part ritualistic and part spiritual – in the sense of how the music has such a strong, dynamic effect. It’s hard to count how many times I’ve listened to this album but even rolling into the new year, that counter will continue to climb.
6. Sana Obruent – Aftoktonia
I first became familiar with the works of Sana Obruent on the 2021 release, ‘Fatem’ and instantly became a fan. To say that I was extremely excited for another album is a huge understatement. This year saw the the release of ‘Aftoktonia’ and as expected, its a triumphant release. Nearly an hour and forty five minutes of minimalistic, looping drones. ‘Aftoktonia’ is an imposing collection of obscure tones and discordant modulations that are as eerie as they are tranquillizing. Sana Obruent excels at creating a world that’s easy to get lost in and ‘Aftoktonia’ is the ultimate, creative set to keep you there.
5. Caldon Glover – Labyrintia
Over the past few years, Caldon Glover has left quite the impression by releasing some amazing albums under a few different project names (a few in which I have reviewed on this site). However, his ultimate collection of Dark Ambient anthems just may be his current Cyclic Law release, ‘Labyrintia’. Deep, spacious drones and pronounced soundscapes make up the arsenal of this gigantic creation. With the backing of a major Dark Ambient label and a killer production, this is one of my favorite recordings of the year. It’s obvious that the passion that went in to the making of this album was spot on, as the distressed cadence and tense settings are sure to render a lasting effect.
4. Tineidae – Mothership
‘Mothership’ has been one of my most played Dark Ambient albums of the year so far. With a bludgeoning sound that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies (Blade Runner 2049), this is the empyrean dystopian-themed release of the year. The synth sound is so huge, portraying a trance-filled atmosphere with chronic tones and soundscapes. If this is what the distant future sounds like, please hurl me there now so that I can partake in post-apocalyptic battle for humanity, while playing this soundtrack for all to here. Such a stunning release that should be heard by all.
3. Colonial Skyway – Evening On Earth
When I’m looking for a specific type of music that provides a meditative soundtrack of wonder and openness, I look no further than Colonial Skyway. My go-to artist for all things drone, Colonial Skyway has a niche for turning monotonous noise into asomatous art that is not only relatable but introspective to say the least. Each track has a disparate style but delivers in complete solidarity when played as a whole. Not only does this album provide a level of entertainment value, but is excels at cleansing the mind of reprehensible thoughts in exchange for a positive focus.
2. Mombi Yuleman – Hours Lost
It’s extremely hard to pick a Mombi Yuleman album for a Top 10 list, especially with everything he produces is FIRE! That being said, one thing that draws you in to his music is the conceptual themes that coincide with the audio. For 2022, the album that resonated with me the most was ‘Hours Lost’. Based on the true story of an alien abduction case from 1961, ‘Hours Lost’ has a particularly nostalgic value that takes the listener back to that era for an experience like no other. Deep drones, sinister soundscapes and an alien-like vibe are some of the key factors that ensure this album is the real deal. If you’ve not heard this one yet, you’re missing out on quite the Dark Ambient experience.
1. Metatron Omega – ISIH
Metatron Omega is my favorite Dark Ambient artist and the intonations created by this project are something that must be experienced. Heavily themed in the Warhammer 40k universe, Metatron Omega uses Gregorian Chants along with malevolent ambient tones to create the most powerful electronic music around. Call me biased, but this is not only my favorite Metatron Omega album (so far), but my Dark Ambient album of the year. To top that, “Megalosthronos” just may be the best MO track of all-time. With the use of looping percussion, this song has an unusual groove and form that stands out amongst the rest. Don’t sleep on this exemplary album.
The main article image is a unique creation from the WOMBO Dream APP.
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.
Additional forest photos courtesy of Carlton Whittle Photography. Please follow him on IG:
The main article image is a unique creation from the WOMBO Dream APP.
From the distant reaches of the macrocosm, I bring you another planetary offering of Dark Ambient summary reviews. This batch of Celestial Ephemerides offers a copious selection of mystical performances that surges deep in the spheres of dimly lit voids. From noise and ritualistic to supernatural soundscapes and haunting field recordings, this is the most impressive gathering of Dark Ambient albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in a while. Hope you enjoy!
1. Pillars Of Golden Misery – ‘Riders Of Misfortune’
‘Riders Of Misfortune’ is a majestic blend of discordant algorithms and resounding clamor in this abrasive but enjoyable offering. Served on a tumultuous platter of indignant ambience, this recording is not for the faint of heart or those with sensitive hearing. Piercing effects and elongated droning produce a disquieting pulse of audial horror that is as punishing as it is enthralling. Highly recommended for fans of harsh noise, glitch and transfixing avant-garde.
2. VSSP – ‘Modular Performances’
‘Modular Performances’ is such a fitting title for this massive collection of ambient tunes from VSSP. Innovative, tranquil, dreamy and calming are other adjectives that also accurately describe this seventy three minute offering that traverses the drone, space ambient and dark ambient genres. One thing that is predominant on this recording is the real sense of melody in each track. The emotional feeling is almost heartbreaking and sorrowful but extremely compelling to listen to. Highly recommended for background music on a cold, rainy day or while relaxing with the intent to cleanse the mind of negative thoughts.
3. Sana Obruent – ‘Aftoktonia’
To these ears, this is one of the most complete Drone Ambient recordings I’ve heard in a long time. Aside from a few other artists, Sana Obruent is quickly becoming my go-to artist for epic drone excursions due to the prominent foray into meditative resonance. Minimalistic & simple, yet effective and powerful, ‘Aftoktonia’ is over one hundred minutes of reflective musings that brings together powerful drones and circadian effects that is as relaxing as it is strident. This is one of my favorite Ambient albums of 2022 and probably will remain that way for many years to follow.
4. Underwater Sleep Orchestra – ‘The Night And Other Sunken Dreams’
Underwater Sleep Orchestra, the new, brooding collaboration between Cities Last Broadcast and God Body Disconnect is a seventy eight minute magnum opus of polarizing dark ambient music. From hypnotizing drones to warm soundscapes, this is a project that I cannot wait to hear more from. These songs are lethargic and melodic and are a bit different from the typical dark ambient setting. You can definitely hear the input of each artist as they bring their signature sound to this musical alliance. Can’t recommend this one enough, especially if you’re looking for something to listen to while drifting off to never never land.
5. Leila Abdul-Rauf – ‘Phantasiai’
It’s not often we get a fascinating album with trumpet and glockenspiel performances, but here we are. ‘Phantasiai’ is a spellbinding album of bleak expression with chilling vocals and dreamy production. Cyclic Law continues to recruit the finest artist that are ready to deliver the best of their craft. Thankfully we have Leila Abdul-Rauf to continue the flow and this album fits in with a long list of stellar releases.
6. O Saala Sakraal – ‘Heven’
The concept of improvisation by O Saala Sakraal is a must listen and ‘Heven’ is one of those albums that will draw the listener in based on the sheer amazement of the unknown. Although only 21 minutes long, this collection of spontaneous incantations is both ritualistic and engaging. Soothing vocal parts with sinister narrations coalesce with haunting atmospherics to provide a post-apocalyptic feel without sounding dilapidated. I can’t wait to hear more from this artist and thanks again to Cyclic Law for continuing to release amazing albums like this.
7. Muhd – ‘Dilogia’
‘Dilogia’ is another prime example of hypnotic ambience that builds in layers to achieve a fusion of synthwave and dark ambient excellence. Warm, harmonizing drones go through an assembly of thickening tones and modulated soundscapes to produce emotion canticles that represent an exceptional blend of retro and futuristic synth virtue. Also from the Cyclic Law label, it’s no wonder why this album made it into the lineup as it sounds fresh, inviting and completely divergent.
8. Yuko Nakai – ‘Me, And The Waters’
There is nothing more soothing than the blissful sounds of crystal bowls, harmonizing with natural soundscapes. Yuko Nakai excels in this area with a splendid three-track EP, ‘Me, And The Waters’. Fusing the sound of crashing ocean waves with extended hums of crystal bowls, beautifully arranged songs of scenic allure expel a magnitude of harrowing sequences that lure the listener in with unimaginable power. My only wish is that this album was about an hour long in order to fully appreciate its hypnotizing effect. Highly recommended for a deep, meditative experience.
9. Gdanian – ‘Submersion’
Gdanian is a new edition to the Cryo Chamber label lineup and upon initial listen, I can confirm that it’s the perfect label to release an album as alluring as this one. An oceanic-themed outing, ‘Submersion’ pulls no punches with including aquatic soundscapes and sub-surface atmospherics. Beautifully produced, each track immerses the listener into a vast world of unexplored adventure. With the feeling of unimaginable depth, there is no choice but to sit back and soak in (no pun intended) the bleak soundscapes and minimalistic drones. An amazing recording that should not be overlooked.
10. Lētum – ‘The Face Of Life And Death’
Lētum presents a cinematic nightmare of an album with ‘Tue Face Of Live And Death’. A conglomerate of disturbing samples and soundscapes backed by malevolent drones and pads. Horrifying vocal sequences are enough to to disrupt your sleeping pattern and send you down a vortex of enraged evil and madness. Coupled with theatric production values, this is a highly professional offering from one of Dark Ambient’s independent achievers. Recommended for Dark Ambient fans that don’t mind being on edge during a whole albums worth of menacing intonations.
The main article image is a unique creation from the WOMBO Dream APP.
Logically speaking, big things come in small packages. That’s the first thing that comes to mind after listening to Maronian Athenaeum’s fascinating album, ‘The Fall Of Svælinørg’. Two tracks of uncompromising Dungeon Synth with a playing time of nearly thirty two minutes. Going in to this without knowing what to expect, it’s easy to assume that there may be a lot of build up between active moments, as well as a lot of backing ambience to set a particular mood. However, upon the initial listen, I was quite impressed – blown away actually – at the variety of music and how the various parts fuse together seamlessly to express a fascinating Medieval story.
The first track, “The Great Stand Of King Svænim”, proceeds in a dreamy, theatrical way as the opening sequence showcases an inspiring Synth melody that emits a tone of melancholic unease and sadness. The heavy reverb gives it a grande sound while soothing melodies compliment it with graceful harmony. Bits of percussion are slowly induced to form an ebullient cadence around the heart of the track. After a brief moment of field recordings, the track blasts into overdrive with a soundtrack-like refrain that is sure to get the blood pumping. Staying true to traditional Dungeon Synth characteristics, a mournful synth effect creates an atmosphere of anguish and dreariness. As this sixteen minute track continues, other facets of electronic music are interpolated, further expanding upon the normal traditions of a track of this magnitude. From whimsical to bombastic tones, this song provides an extremely magnified listening experience. Thinking that I’ve heard the best of what this album has to offer, the second (and final) track is what really blew me away. “Min-Min’s Reign” is a mesmerizing sixteen minute escapade through an assortment of synth genres that are merged in a magnificent sequence of meticulous song writing. Commencing with the soothing sounds of rain and polarizing sequences, patterns of retrospective synthwave begin to take shape. With a mild tempo and addictive arrangement, it doesn’t take long for the lister to be fully engaged with this masterpiece. Soon after, a complex arrangement of hasty rhythms shows a change in pace and an algorithm of futuristic vibes. I sense a mild Berlin School influence as the keys affix in a looping pattern while the song builds around it. Industrialized effects continue the element of malevolence that are sure to cause moments of anxiety or discomfort. This pattern slowly ascends into an ambient tone, creating a dark space for the remainder of the track. Celestial keys contribute to the bleak, spacious atmosphere with haunting relevance as this daunting song comes to an end.
I am more than impressed with Maronian Athenaeum and the variety of music that is included on ‘The Fall Of Svælinørg’. Using Dungeon Synth elements as the base for these tracks, a multitude of other electronic sounds forge an impressive blend of music that is sure to resonate with fans of a variety of synth genres. These tracks certainly do tell a compelling, mythological story that has no boundaries for self-interpretation. I highly recommend this album to everyone that loves synth music and I can’t wait to hear what this artist has in store for us in the future.
Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!
I almost don’t like putting together these year-end Top 10 lists because it’s so hard to pick 10 albums out of the hundreds or thousands of Dark Ambient releases in a given year. However, at the same time, I do want to show my respects to the albums that held the highest entertainment value for me, thus equating to my FAVORITE Dark Ambient albums of 2021. I really hope you enjoy this list as much as I had putting it together and if there is anything that strikes your attention on here, please check them out and show your support for these amazing artists. Without further a due, I present to you my favorite 10 Dark Ambient albums of 2021.
10. Blackweald – 666 Minutes In Hell
What better way to get this list started than an album consisting of nearly eleven and a half hours of diabolical Dark Ambient. ‘666 Minutes In Hell’ is that album and just the length alone is downright captivating. As for the music itself, this is some of the most sinister Dark Ambient I’ve heard in a long time and the endless supply of field recordings and soundscapes are enough to make an actual trip to hell seem like an endless endeavor. This is a very creative album that sets a gloomy atmosphere and only Blackweald could pull this off with such a grim attraction.
9. Xerxes The Dark – Soundtrack To The Blind Owl
Xerxes The Dark continues his string of impressive releases with the Industrial-styled, ‘Soundtrack To The Blind Owl’. One of his most chaotic and abrasive releases yet, this album is not to be taken lightly, as the amount of discord and pandemonium contained within can be alarmingly harsh if not expected. However, for me, I love this type of audial chaos and for nearly fifty three minutes, XTD thrashes the listener through a gauntlet of maniacal sounds and glitches by way of synth and guitar manipulation. Definitely check this one out if you’re into the more extreme side of Dark Ambient music.
8. Dead Melodies – Fabled Machines Of Old
For the past couple of years, Dead Melodies has been one of the busiest and most consistent Dark Ambient artists around. From amazing solo efforts to haunting collaborations with the likes of Zenjungle and Beyond The Ghost, he has amassed quite the discography of varied material. ‘Fabled Machines Of Old’ is another prodigious notch in his belt with a ferocious blend of Dark Ambient tones, haunting acoustic guitar passages and the warm embrace of dark noir styled jazzy impulses. The result is an album full of assorted & gloomy characteristics that are extremely fulfilling and a breath of fresh air for the Cryo Chamber label.
7. Mora-Tau – Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer
Mora-Tau has quickly become one of my favorite Dark Ambient artists with his brand of exhilarating improvisations. Releasing a magnitude of albums on his own Bandcamp page, as well as several other labels, it’s hard to pick a favorite album – especially since they are all so amazing. However, one that I keep returning to the most is the dispiriting ‘Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer’. These four tracks describe a dismal scene of a bleak, post-nuclear atmosphere of nothingness and regrowth. Using an assortment of synth effects and drones, Mora-Tau is like a voiceless narrator for a scene filled with disaster and radiance. I’m so glad that Mora-Tau exists at this point in time and I highly recommend checking out his whole discography, but starting with one of my year end favorites, ‘Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer’.
6. Wampyric Solitude – Echoes Of Undying Darkness And Bloodshed
Dungeon Synth maestro, Wampyric Solitude has not only created one of my favorite Dungeon Synth albums of the year, but he’s also produced one of my favorite Dark Ambient album, ‘Echoes Of Undying Darkness And Bloodshed’. Expecting another Dungeon Synth masterpiece, I was both shocked and blown away by the sounds of menacing drones, ominous atmospherics and apocalyptic styled soundscapes that decays from within. This is bleak adventure that I can’t stop listening to and I would to love to hear more of this type of dynamic caliber from Wampyric Solitude in the very near future.
5. Dahlia’s Tear – Adrift On The Edge Of Infinity
Anyone that is familiar with the works of Dahlia’s Tear can agree that there is a recognizable sound throughout the impressive discography. However, it’s the Cryo Chamber releases that finds the artist at his best and the post-apocalyptic presentation is as doleful as it is hypnotizing. Just when you think you’ve heard the magnum opus effort by Dahlia’s Tear, along comes another album of equal or better quality. ‘Adrift On The Edge Of Infinity’ is a driving force of intensity that exudes melancholic proportions with a haunting soundscape. I eagerly await new albums by Dahlia’s Tear and this one was no exception and it surely doesn’t disappoint.
4. Sydalesis – Living Machine
‘Living Machine’ is a masterclass in Berlin School styled Dark Ambient music. This mammoth recording hosts 14 tracks of lenitive, atmospheric anthems that expands beyond two and a half hours of playing time. Mixing ambient music with Berlin School sequences has become one of my favorite styles of electronic music and I tend to get completely mesmerized by its output. ‘Living Machine’ elicited that exact result from the initial listen back in April until now. This album remains a fascinating experience and it – unfortunately – didn’t get the attention that it deserved. I highly recommend checking this one out immediately.
3. Hilyard – Division Cycle
The albums that Hilyard produces for Cryo Chamber are just different – in a great way. He seems to pull out all the stops when making music for the giant label and ‘Division Cycle’ is my favorite Cryo Chamber label release for this year. An excellent blend of Space Ambient and minimalistic droning, this album was an immediate hit and greatly surpassed all of my expectations. Subtle soundscapes and industrial undertones generate an atmosphere of endless tranquility, darkened by blissful aggression. This is one of the most meditative albums of the year and I still can’t get enough of its bleak embrace.
2. Delmak-O – The Colony
I must say that ‘The Colony’ was quite a surprise upon initial listen. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. However, what I got was one of the most impressive Ambient albums that I’ve ever heard. Fusing Berlin School sequences with Space Ambient drones, otherworldly soundscapes and a Sci-Fi conceptual story, this album is a masterpiece from start to finish. This is one of those albums that you can blast in a pair of good headphones and be taken away on an astral adventure without any care in the world. A very enjoyable album that brings a much needed variety to the Dark Ambient community.
1. Sumatran Black – A Taxonomy Of Grief
I’ve been a Sumatran Black fan for a few years now and equally love the other projects by the same artist, Black Box Memories and Atasehir. Even though the output of dystopian style Dark Ambience has been quite impressive, ‘A Taxonomy Of Grief’ is light years ahead of previous efforts. For nearly two hours and twenty minutes, the listener is treated with a melancholic blend of mesmerizing synths and mournful soundscapes that depicts a gloomy reality of dealing with personal bereavement and loss. Each track completes a cycle of majestic aplomb through soothing arrangements that are insanely breathtaking. Because of these alluring intricacies, ‘A Taxonomy Of Grief’ is easily my favorite Dark Album of 2021.
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!!