Eyre Transmissions XVII – Interview With Dungeon Synth Trailblazer, Erang

If you’ve been a fan of Dungeon Synth for longer than two minutes, then you should be familiar with the name Erang and all of the glory that has been brought to the genre by way of an extended catalog of influential albums. With a successful foray into the many folds of synth music, there is no doubt that Erang is a progenitor of a unique style of Medieval summonings. Voyaging beyond the confines of Dungeon Synth, Erang is heralded for creating many exclusive endeavors that bridge the gap between Dungeon Synth, Synthwave and Black Metal – just to name a few. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of ‘Tome I’, the artist behind this crowning craft has allowed me to borrow some of his time to discuss his music, achievements and emotional declarations behind all things Erang.

1. Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview and congratulations on 10 majestic years of Dungeon Synth ventures. Take us back to 2012 and tell us at what point Dungeon Synth became a creative focus.

Thanks for your words, glad to be there. Well, to tell you when DS became a creative focus we need to go back a bit further, in 2011, when I stumbled upon the Dungeon Synth blog. Prior to that I discovered some Ambient tracks from Black Metal project in the documentary « Until the Light Takes Us ». I fell immediatly in love with that sound. It was like if I found what I was looking for and I immediately stopped it to check online if I found similar stuffs. That’s how I ended up on the DS blog and the work of Lord Lovidicus… and it all clicked together: there was no turning back after that. Dungeon Synth til I die.

2. The Dungeon Synth genre didn’t flourish back then as it does today, so what were some of the processes for which you promoted your craft?

“Didn’t flourish” is a light word, as it was pretty desert in 2011 and 2012. I’m not sure the word “promote” fit well because of that. There was no facebook group, no board, no youtube channel, so I just posted in some Ambient or Metal group, or in the forum of Encyclopedia Metallum. There might still be some old posts from me from 2012… it was mostly on forums : RPG forums or Fantasy forums.

3. Erang truly transcends the Dungeon Synth genre by composing in other realms of synth music. Has this always been a vision for this project?

The only vision behind Erang is to stay true to my Imagination and inner feelings, no matter the musical genre. Of course Dungeon Synth is at the core of it because of the involvement I had in the revival of the genre back then. But I’ll never be afraid to mix it with many other influences or thematic if I feel it in my guts. Like with my prior album PRISONNIER DU RÊVE : I knew the theme was too french and too obscure for a broader audience but, at that time, I needed to do it because it had a really personal resonnance toward my past and childhood.

4. Who are some of your greatest influences for creating this kind of music.

That is absolutely impossible to say because it changes on each album and even on each track… It is always a very large mix of so many things. And lots of them are not musical but come from movies, books, cartoons… that and, of course, my own personal history and things from my past…

5. Did you have a musical career prior to forming Erang back in 2011/2012?

I don’t (and never will) consider what I’m doing as a “career”. I make music because I have to, I need to, it’s like the air I breathe. Without it I would be dead and empty, I have no choice. 

I’ve been making music since I was 14, I guess, but just for myself. My first real musical connection with the outside world was with my first Erang album, Tome I, in 2012.

6. Let’s talk about ‘Tome I’ (2012). Was there an overall concept for this album? To me the music flows just like a storyline or script for a movie.

The concept was simple : I told myself to stop trying to make art or something modern or innovative or I don’t know what… I told myself : make music like you used to draw when you were a little child. Without thinking about the outside world, just alone in your bedroom, lying on the ground with papers and markers. Without thinking about technics or what is right or wrong… Just make something straight from you heart. I thought about movies or books that were important for me as a Kid and named the songs after that… And after that first album, I understood who I was for the first time and things have never been the same since then.

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/tome-i

7. That album has truly stood the test of time, as those songs still sound really fresh. What made the songs on that album so resilient in a genre that has sprouted in a vast way in the past few years.

Thanks ! Well, that’s hard for me to say… I guess the most well placed to say it (if it’s true) are the people who enjoy it.

8. ‘Tome II’ as also released in 2012 but there is a noticeable growth in song compositions. What influenced this growth spurt in such a short amount of time?

From my point of view, the first 4 albums are really linked together and from the same vein, hence the « Tomes » names. So I wouldnt say there are a real difference in compositions or sounds from my point of view. It was really me toying with the Dungeon Synth basics… They really are a whole together. Things started to change with the album just after these : « Another World, Another Time ». That’s why I named it like the first track of « Tome I ». Because it was a rebirth for me. If you noticed, that’s why the 4 albums just after the fourth first Tomes, are all named after a track from the respective previous Tomes.

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/tome-ii

9. One of my favorite albums by Erang is ‘Within The Land Of My Imagination I Am The Only God’ (2014). This album was so full of Medieval substance that in my opinion, it’s a true structure of the Dungeon Synth genre. In your opinion, what makes this album so audibly different?

I guess this one is an important one in my discography. I think that, mainly, it was different in scope : 17 tracks was a big thing to put out for me back then. And the title of the album is also an important and strong statement for me. When I knew it was named like this, I remember thinking that I really had to put out something worth this title. I hope I didn’t failed. Because that sentence ‘Within The Land Of My Imagination I Am The Only God’ is really something at the ground of my personality and the world of Erang.

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/within-the-land-of-my-imagination-i-am-the-only-god

10. On 2016’s ‘Anti Future’, you ventured into the synthwave/darkwave and the results were a highly addictive album. What was the mindset behind its creative concept? Do you plan to produce anymore albums of this nature?

Well I already produce SONGS of SCARS which was the direct inheritor of ANTI FUTURE. I really wanted to make something in that vein for a long time. Being a child from the late 80’s, the synth sounds from that era were really a cradle for me. In advertising, in TV shows, etc. it was full of synth everywhere because back then that sound sounded « new » and was also way cheaper to produce rather than a full orchestra (mainly for TV or B movies). I was also a huge fan of John Carpenter and, if you listen closely to this album, it is not synthwave like the ones you find the most (which is more « outrun » in the vein of the movie « Drive » you know) my two albums are really more in the vein of horror b movies or science fiction movies from back then, Stephen King’s TV adaptations.

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/anti-future

So as I said, I was really into that sound for a long time and what achieved to give me the impulse of doing it was the first album of new material from John Carpenter : Lost Tales. I loved this album and decided to give it a shot myself.

11. Now let’s fast forward to 2020’s ‘Imagination Never Fails’. Again, this was a multi-genre masterpiece that flows like a soundtrack or a large-scale production. What was it like to create this magnum opus? How do you pull off these tracks in a live setting?

Thanks again for such compliment, I’m humbled. Concerning live, I’ll never play live. Or maybe if I do it one day it would be under very specific circumstances which I still can’t figure now. Because it could kill a part of the mystery that is, to me, the most important thing. I once read a reply from Summoning in that same vein… so, no live setting. And concerning the creation of this album it was a pure bliss. More than one time you struggle while creating an album. You’re full of doubt, hesitation, etc. but not this time. Mainly because it was my ‘comeback’ after pretty much 2 years of silence. So I was really inspired and, when I announced it I had such an incredible and overwhelming feedback from the community that it get my heart pumping to deliver it.

12. Recently you release 5 amazing EP’s. All have different sounds and a variety of focuses. How did this endeavor come about and how did you come up with the entity known as The Land of 5 Seasons?

The creation of the Land of the Five Seasons was an organic process if I could say so… it slowly came together albums after albums and when I drew the map of it. For this specific set of 5 EP’s I really wanted to make something different because of the 10 years anniversary. But on the other hand, as it was a marking point anniversary, I also wanted to make something as an ode to the genre you know? That’s how I ended up with that concept of mixing my own Land of the Five Seasons with 5 different (and even more) flavors of Dungeon Synth : from old school to ambient, from cinematic to new age, with also the black metal influences, etc.

13. What are some of your favorite Erang albums and why?

That’s truly impossible for me to say. Each album is a snapshot from a moment of my life and means something really strong and personal to me.

14. What is your opinion on the current state of Dungeon Synth and the sub-genres that have spawned from it over the past few years.

I find it very alive, diverse and full of creativity. So many great things to discover and navigate through. Very inspiring !

15. Who are some of the modern Dungeon Synth artists that you admire on a creative level?

There are too many to names… I will start with some french acts if you don’t mind : Silu de Mordomoire, Elixir, Arathgoth, Arsule, Weress or Descort… Also some already famous names but there are well known for a reason : Fogweaver, Hole Dweller, all the works by Adam Matlock… Recently I’ve been amazed by ‘A Lantern Swathed’ by Erreth-Akbe : a great piece of art. Also I really enjoyed ‘Arda’s Herbarium Vol. 1’ by Ithildin, very diverse and charming… Really, people just have to browse through bandcamp to discover hidden treasures.

16. What are your musical plans for the remainder of 2022?

Many things and surprises will come in 2022. Some great physical releases with awesome labels but also few unexpected things here and there… you’ll see !

17. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions. Do you have any final words for those that may be reading this interview?

Thanks to you for the interview! I just want to say that without Erang, I wouldn’t be there… life wouldn’t have the same meaning to me… and if the Kingdom of Erang is there, it is also because of all the people who follow and support this fragile weird and obscure music since ten years now… Thanks to all of them for what they are doing, it means more than they imagine.

Enter the Land of the Five Seasons below:

Bandcamp: https://erang.bandcamp.com/

Main Website: https://www.erang-dungeon-synth.com/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/084f5VMGkCRs4mV96QhJUM

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kingdom_of_erang

A Journey Into the Land of the Five Seasons: https://youtu.be/TIqRMzKEx2g

Drones Of A Lighter Nightmare Prevail on Sonologyst’s ‘Interdimensional’

I truly enjoy the bleakest of Dark Ambient albums. As with any other genre, there are times for a particular taste that maximizes the power of connection between music and the listener. One of my favorite sub-genres of Dark Ambient is Drone. Sure there are some similarities between Drone and say, Industrial Ambient but it has some differences as well. Instead of harsh tones and mechanized discordance, there is a reticent, more ominous sound that allows for the utmost space for meditation and a dream-like state for potential out-of-body experiences. One artist that majestically captures these types of moments is Sonologyst. The latest album, ‘Interdimensional’ is a top-rate experience in eerie modulations and dismal tones that are equally creepy as they are thought provoking. These six tracks create a dynamic world of gray, scenic prowess and a cold atmosphere that blurs the line between dark and light.

Haunting lead off track, “Ad Astra” slowly comes into picture, like a group of propelled planes slowly flying overhead, destined for a doomed mission. As soundscapes fuse this modulated terror, a complex scenario builds despite the minimalistic tones. The various sounds create a revolving intonation that builds and collapses, causing terrifying moments of anxiety and angst. The relentless chaos doesn’t let up, even as the track fades into oblivion. “Interdimensional Beings” immediately sets a lethargic pace with low-end rumbles and spots of synth notes that blend in chaotic discord. As this nightmare settles in, the tonal quality increases and expands to include random sound bytes and unhinged effects. As it nears the final moments, celestial tones produce a nostalgic effect, which shows a complete balance between disorder and minimalist aptitude. At just over four minutes long, “Paraphysical Phenomenon” is not only the shortest track on the album, but probably the most adventurous one as well. Beautiful synth melodies clash with spacious drones and the result is a mesmerizing blend of sonic tranquility that gives the illusion of endless travel beyond the deepest corridors of space. Going from the shortest song to the longest, ‘Through Memories And Galaxies” is a near fifteen minute ride through muffled voids and spacey vacuums and exudes a supremely addictive host for traveling through blissful territories of the mind. Barely audible vocal narrations and lengthy drones complete this lengthy effort that goes from dreamy modulations to terrifying screeches. “Multiverses” commences with some of the darkest drones presented on this collection of songs. Unparalleled soundscapes hint at a celestial vibe while the overall tone continues to thicken throughout. There are moments of psychedelic sound play that emphasizes a tumultuous moment in time. Complete with very eerie undertones, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The last track on the album is “God-Level Traveller” and it begins with very demented droning sound until a peculiar instance comes into play, altering the scaled synth notes at a slow pace. The natural hissing in the background adds a dreamy essence while minimalistic noise continues to gather, creating an abrasive tone that is quite quixotic. This is certainly an impactful statement to end this very dark and brooding musical collective.

Sonologyst exquisitely bridges the gap between several sub-genres of Dark Ambient music while producing elite electronic euphoria. ‘Interdimensional’ is masterclass in drone music that branches out with a plethora of haunting soundscapes and production tactics. The end result is an amazing album that is surly to stand the test of time. Don’t sleep on this album, as I highly recommend it for those that expect an esoteric and ominous audial output. Check it out at the link below and support this prodigious artist and the addictive music he produces.

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

Links:

https://sonologyst.bandcamp.com/album/interdimensional

Ideal Father Examines The Despotic Aftermath Of An Industrial Age Coup With The Chilling, ‘Paradice Death’

The coldness of industrial music has a particular haunting effect that emits emotional angst, rebellion and sometimes fear. The influence of an industrial-themed environment is the essence for blazing energy across multiple genres of music. Boasting an apocalyptic setting or ventures in dystopian wastelands, Industrial music is a tantalizing hybrid of music and machine, joining forces to lay the foundation of corrupt manufacturing lineage. In the realm of Dark Ambient, industrialized influences play a crucial role on one of the genres most harsh sounding sub-forms. Ideal Father grasps that ideology and doesn’t hold back with delivering a savage performance in ‘Paradice Death’. Nine tracks of grinding decay is all that it takes to create a despondent world of barbarous and strident modulations to help desensitize the traumatic situations of futuristic environments.

The dissonant lead off track, “A Mind In Evil Ruin” pulls no punches as it crashes in like a video game character warping to a desolate world, right in the middle of scenic terror. Haunting, reverberated drones drift in like a sandstorm on a reluctant desert town, unable to flee the grasp of demise in any direction. A variety of effects set a creepy vibe as the wall of noise surrounds you in every direction with no viable means of escape. “In Paradice Death” commences with a supernatural narration that sounds like a menacing black metal styled vocal with an echo effect that is made for ruining all positive thoughts. A squall of ear-piercing synths and soundscapes project an even darker world of hatred and corruption while inaudible voices and screams can be heard throughout, cementing this nightmarish vision of disturbing results. “Blood Torrent” begins with heavily distorted tones that are reminiscent of the distant buzz of mechanical infrastructures running on autopilot and out of control. Various disturbances echo from left to right, as if you’re being stalked by a maniacal being. “Crepuscular Soul” emits a muffled, underwater sound that loops uncontrollably while discordant tones and buzzes build around it. This track also offers clean and clear synth passages that are just as poignant as the other, darker tones set forth on this album. It’s almost as if it’s playing a bizarre scale that is melodic in nature but instead discharges an accord of sadistic intent. “Tongue Mosaic” is one of the shorter songs in this brooding collection, but it’s intermittent spikes of tonal despair, set on top of a sustained drone, presents a harrowing look at nightmarish entities in the void of nothingness. “Crosshair Mantra” starts with a doom-laden drone with heavy modulated breathing sounds that soon fuse with vociferous synth shrills and gruesome effects. The field recordings in this track display a scene of horror and ferocious resolve toward the end of existence. Life forms become scarce as mechanical objects rebel and conquer in pre-programmed unison. “Wall Of Crying Eyes” is a minimalistic piece with divergent drones that sway in and out of audial captivity, while mechanical noises meander aimlessly in search of their next victim. Sonic and celestial modulations depict a retrospective vibe while the tonal distortion of assorted soundscapes create a sense of abandonment and isolation. The massively distorted take off of “Nobody Will Know” is a severe reminder of a condemned society and the point of no return to normalcy and conventional existence. As this dynamic increases in layers, the sound thickens into a spiteful wall of harmonized noise and it’s deafening quality becomes even more mesmerizing as it continues to play out. The final track on the album is “Dream Slurja”. Signaling the end of existence for living organisms, this minimalistic piece represents the true dawn of industrial power and it’s agonizing takeover of humanity. With a deficient dose of harsh effects, this is one of the more peaceful efforts in this collection but none less terrifying than the rest of the album. Hints of stifled vocals and discrete field recordings are antagonizing reminder of the strength of industrial components and the new mechanical civilization that will forever remain a dark spectacle of potent energy.

Ideal Father just may be my new go-to artist for when I desire the hasty sounds of industrial ambience. With only a few albums in circulation, ‘Paradice Death’ has proven to be a jolting experience in the harsher side of Dark Ambient music. This sound and style isn’t for everyone but for the unique audience that lives for this experience, then look no further than Ideal Father. Please show your support by checking out this album at the link below.

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

Links:

https://idealfather.bandcamp.com/album/paradice-death

Fugue In Sea Absorbs Mythological Subject Matter For Enthralling Release, ‘Py-A-Saw’

If the thought of legendary creatures don’t get the creative juices flowing, I don’t know what does. The chimerical energy that is produced by such entities is not only astounding, but it creates a boundless spectacle for imaginative tales of nefarious beings and settings. Missouri-based electronic musician, Fugue In Sea, uses these obscure entities to an advantage by creating an unconventional soundtrack for their existence. ‘Py-A-Saw’ is a five track excursion that demonstrates the agility of music and how it can translate to a vicarious world of ingenious resolve. From Dark Ambient tones to hypnotic and industrialized sequences, this is twenty eight minutes of unprecedented and ritualistic storytelling.

“The Bird That Devours Men (Theme)” is the insanely crafted lead off track that commences with obscure sound bits and eclectic drones that drift slowly like frozen air flow over a daunting mountain peak. The bizarre sound effects carry on in a chaotic commotion as if frantically trying to communicate with other entities in an unfamiliar tone. Suddenly, the clamor resends into a particular calmness before fading into oblivion. “Attack Along The Mississippi” begins with a tribal-like cadence, as layers of peculiar effects rapidly ascend with stunning creativity. More communicative reverberations begin their sequence as an industrial screech comes bellowing in with menacing fortitude. Heavily distorted guitar shrills create a trance-like instance as this ritualistic track comes full circle. “Cave Of Bones” begins with a mix of ethereal soundscapes as somber drones quietly come into play. Constant, pulsating beats create an agonizing experience of bleakness while aggressive key’s emphasize an ambiguous setting for unknowingness. “The Return; Ouatoga’s Ambush; Aftermath” introduces and dark, industrial-type aggression with loud frequency screeches, heavy modulations and the sensation of an icy cold wasteland. A durable beat instills a harmonic essence of mechanized allurement for most of the track, but fades into a space ambient offering that is completely meditative. The final track on the album is “The Bird That Devours Men (reprise)”. This frigid offering continues with the space ambient theme by creating a droning void of eclectic sounds and effects that throttle the listener to a desolate demise. This ends the album on a very eerie note (literally) and you’ll immediately want to listen to this mythical experience all over again.

‘Py-A-Saw’ is a well put together, well thought out ambient adventure. Although just an EP, there is a ton of adventure and sonic madness that is typically experienced on a much longer dark ambient album. Fugues In Sea has the dexterity to incorporate many aspects of electronic music to create a symphony of auditory compositions that are unique and captivating. ‘Py-A-Saw’ is just another notch in the belt for hopefully a long career in Dark Ambient creativity for Fugue In Sea. Please check this album out at the link below and support this exceptional artist.

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

Links:

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/py-a-saw

https://fugueinsea.bandcamp.com

Eyre Transmissions XVI: Interview With Improvisational Ambient Prodigy, Mora-Tau

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Mora-Tau by way of his 2020 album, ‘The Light Of the Winter’. Something about it was very nostalgic…very haunting. Upon further probe into his Bandcamp page, I discovered an alluring and eclectic cosmos of improvisational recordings that are addictive and more importantly conceptualized based on a specific theme – particularly around horror, nightmares, worlds end and retrospective subject matter. Needless to say, Mora-Tau has become one of my favorite Dark Ambient producers and I couldn’t wait to have a conversation with him to find out what makes this project so unique and special. Hope you enjoy this interview.

1. Thank you very much for this interview opportunity. Mora-Tau has a rather short recording history but has left quite an impression on my. How did this project start for you?

As you pointed out, I only started publishing my work around 2009. I was born in 1959 and I will be 63 this year, so it’s not a long career.

For about 10 years, from the age of 15, I listened exclusively to progressive rock. I now listen to a wide range of music genres, including jazz, avant-garde music and club music, but most of it came through progressive rock. Even punk rock.

The most influential artists at that time were Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hillage, Gong, Popol Vuh and of course King Crimson. Well, this is a very conventional list.

I started working under the name ‘mora-tau’ around 2008. I had been creating music before that. But I was satisfied with just playing them for my friends. I didn’t do any live performances. I had no formal musical education, so I’m not very good at playing an instrument. So I couldn’t even imagine the day when I would be playing in front of other people.

In 2008 or 2009, I discovered the music publishing website jamendo.com. By registering on that site, I was finally ready to release my music to the outside world. It was then that I named myself ‘mora-tau’. The name comes from my favourite 1950s horror film The Zombies of Mora-Tau (with my favourite actress Allison Hayes playing the bad girl, who turns into a zombie at the end).

Around the same time, an acquaintance invited me to perform at his shop (which was a bookshop) for almost the first time in my life. That was a lot of fun! And that was the start of my live career.

I consider myself ambient music, drone music and experimental music at the moment. I feel that these three genres are often balanced and mixed in one piece.

It was only after 2000 that I started to listen to this music seriously, in other words systematically and consciously. Before that, I was looking for my own music, imitating what I had heard. So it wasn’t until I started performing live that I got the style of music I was aiming for.

The first music that made a big impact on me was Eliane Radigue, a pioneer of electronic music who manipulated an ARP2500. I found the drone music she produced to be very simple, but with immense depth.

Another hero of mine is Morton Feldman. When I met Feldman, who produced very long, very slow music (sometimes over five hours of music), that music melded with Tangerine Dream, Harmonia and Eliane Radigue in my mind and became a big part of my own style It has given me suggestions.

This is ‘the origin of mora-tau’.

Wow, it’s a very long answer! I’m sorry.

2. I’ve noticed that on the liner notes of many of your recordings on Bandcamp your work mainly consists of improvisations. Do you typically have a plan of what you are going to play before recording or is it completely improvised?

I record almost all of my compositions as completely improvised performances. On very rare occasions I may write a musical score, but it is a sketch for memory.

However, in the last few years, I have often decided on a scale only at the beginning of a performance. Especially for live performances, I always decide on just the scale. Sometimes I move on to another scale during the performance, and sometimes I just finish it. The reason why I decide on it is simple. I don’t want to make a mistake in front of the audience :-).

Recorded performances are edited using DAW software. Sometimes it is just the same thing as played, with a few tweaks. In most cases, however, editing is essential. Balancing between tracks, noise reduction, sound quality adjustment, etc. are always done. The song is then cut into several parts. Sometimes I’ll delete parts, sometimes I’ll change the order, and sometimes I’ll layer completely different tracks that were previously unreleased. Sometimes I create a piece by layering several tracks that were recorded at completely different times and have different tempos, tunes and tonalities.

Once I have finished recording, I change my mind and think: ‘This is all just material’. And in the editing process, I emphasise an improvisational sensibility. I rarely work in advance. My style is as improvisational in the editing as it is in the performance itself.

3. You have quite a few live recordings from Bar Lynch (in Utsunomiya, Japan). How do you prepare for those sessions and how is the audience response to your work?

Lynch is a very small bar in a narrow alleyway; it overflows when 20 people arrive. The sound system for live shows uses the shop’s audio system. Otherwise, artists bring their own amplifiers.

I always have about three synthesisers available, with the necessary effectors connected to them, and record them on a mixer/recorder, a ZOOM R-16. The output from that is then input into Lynch audio.

https://mora-tau.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-lynch-oct-19-2021

So the sound quality is by no means top-notch. But because my recordings do not go through the shop audio, I can guarantee the same quality as studio work. Many of my customers listen to me while they chat. No, they are not listening? But some of them listen intently, clap seriously and ask questions after the performance. Yes, about one person every six months.

My turnout is very low, only a few people at most gigs. Sometimes there is only the master. On those occasions, I play around with phrases and developments that I think the master will enjoy. Of course, I never play to the extent that the whole structure collapses, though.

4. I lived in Japan for almost 24 years and really loved the music scene however, my only electronic concert experience was seeing Merzbow live in Tokyo a few times. How is the Electronic/Ambient scene in Japan these days?

Sorry, I actually don’t know anything about the music scene in Japan. I live in Utsunomiya-City, which is 100 km north of Tokyo. The famous Shinkansen bullet train will take you to Tokyo station in an hour, but I rarely go outside my area.
I’m like Rapunzel living in a tower.

I keep up to date with new music through streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube and CD shopping, but so far I haven’t found the Japanese scene to be very interesting.

5. You’ve made several recordings for International labels such as Church Of Noisy Goat (Brazil) and Kalamine Records (France). How did those endeavors come about?

Both labels approached me through them. I never approached them myself. I think they liked something about the music I was making and invited me.

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-october-landscape

6. Do you plan to release anymore albums with those labels, and possibly others?

Neither of the two labels has a specific release schedule. I send my work to them about four times a year. Then I ask them, “If you like it, will you release it?” I have never had anyone say “No”.

I will continue to regular releases, where possible. However, there is no fixed schedule. If invited by another label, I’ll see what they’re up to and think about it. Of course, my basic attitude is “anyone, anytime, is OK”.

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

7. As for your music style and influence, how much of it is influenced by Japanese culture, folklore and spiritual meaning?

The deepest part of the psyche must be inseparably influenced by it. For example, many of the phrases I play unconsciously have a Japanese melody.

But it’s rarely conscious. Before making track, I watch a film or read books, looking for something to inspire me. If I’m inspired by something Japanese then I’m strongly influenced by it. I’ve never been aware of any other influences beyond that.

Of course, consciously or not, ‘Japan’ is firmly rooted in me. When I improvise, I am very conscious of this. Such as when I play the ‘Japanese phrases’ I mentioned earlier. Perhaps I am imprinting ‘Japan’ more deeply in my mind through improvisation.

8. One of my favorite albums by you is called ‘Swirl’. It has a very retrospective and minimalistic vibe to it. What was it like to record this album and what is the meaning behind this amazing music?

Thank you very much. I like that album very much too.

At that time, I was thinking of putting my impressions of the B-Movies of the 50’s to music.
The theme is “guidelines for music production” for me. The light of the lighthouse. A guide to the completion of the work.

This is the case with most of my work.
I say to myself ‘Let’s start to make music inspired by “The Thing”! ‘. But when done, it can be The Thing, but it can also be “Quatermass Xperiment”, or “Frankenstein”, or “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas”. You must have been disgusted at how lazy it was.

https://mora-tau.bandcamp.com/album/swirl

Shortly before making ‘Swirl’ I bought an analogue synthesizer with a sequencer. And I wanted to use it to make endless music. That’s how I started with my technical interests.

It’s all about how to combine different approaches: adjusting parameters to make small changes, changing effects in real time, using delays to layer sounds from other equipment. “Swirl” is the result of this research into how different approaches can be combined to create long ambient pieces of music. It’s the honest answer. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you.

9. There is another album called ‘Still Here’. In my opinion, this is one of your darkest recordings. What was the main focus behind this album?

This one, contrary to ‘Swirl’, was made with technology I already had at my disposal.

First, there was ‘Story’, which I wrote in the liner notes. How can I live in a world where the world has disappeared and no one can hear me? This was expanded upon in Still Here.

https://mora-tau.bandcamp.com/album/still-here

At the same time, I was obsessed at the time with the image of a ‘world on the brink of destruction’ as depicted by J.G. Ballard. I felt that I was living in a terrible world, in a time when I was trapped.
To express this, I partly used contemporary musical techniques such as atonal and whole-tone scales. I think these techniques also promote darkness.

10. One of your latest albums is called ‘Brave New World’. However, in the liner notes, you state, “There is No New World Anywhere”. How does that tie in to the music on the album and what is the meaning behind this recording.

Mmm…
When write it like that, it seems to express a deep philosophy. But there’s a bit of deception there.

It started from my own feeling that “there’s nothing new in this album. Every part of it is a repetition of what I’ve done before”.

https://mora-tau.bandcamp.com/album/brave-new-world

Of course, I don’t always try new things in all my work. I think it’s fine to use only familiar techniques of expression, if the resulting work is emotional. That’s why I can write “There is no ‘new world’ anywhere.” It’s a self-deprecating joke!

The music for the album was done, I thought “This album is GOOD!”. But I couldn’t think of a title. At first I thought of “fragment of memories”, but then I thought it sounded like the title my past albums. After a few days of deliberation, I decided on the current title as a kind of compromise.

11. I’m really interested to learn about the equipment you use for recording? Can you please share your setup to the fans?

The main equipment is listed below. This is where we choose and combine the equipment for our gigs.

Analog Synth:
Moog Sub Phatty
Arturia minibrute
Behringer Crave
Pico System Erica Synth

Virtual Analog Synth:
Yamaha CS1x
Modal Electronics SKULPT Synthesizer
E-mu Proteus2000

Soft Synth:
Future Audio Workshop Circle 2

DAW Software:
Audacity

Effector:
Delay
BOSS DD-20 GIGA DELAY
tc electronic Flashback2
JOYO D-SEED II

Reverb
BOSS Digital Reverb RV-5
Behringer RV600 Reverb Machine

Looper
BOSS Loop Station RC-3
tc electronic DITTO X4 Looper

Multi Effector
ZOOM G2

12. Other than Bar Lynch, do you play live gigs at other venues?

Yes.
Since last year I have been playing at ‘Igno…. . book plus’ (an antiquarian bookshop) every three months or so. There are also a few live music venues where can play. All of them are in Utsunomiya city.

13. Do you plan to release any physical media of any of your albums or will you stick with digital releases?

I actually released a CD a few years ago under the title “the old village”. 300 copies were made and over 200 are still unsold. I don’t think releasing any more CDs. It’s too costly. I would like to release a cassette tape.

14. I’m always looking forward to hearing new music from you. What do you have planned for releases in 2022?

Thank you very much. In 2022 I’m aiming to release an album every month, hopefully one that You will like.

15. Thanks again for your time and for sharing your musical journey. Do you have any final thought for those that will read this interview?

I was born in 1959, so I don’t think I’ll have another ten years to be an active musician. Nevertheless, I don’t want to stop playing music and I hope to go deeper into it. If you don’t mind, I would be very happy if you could stay with me for a while longer.

Links:

BC: https://mora-tau.bandcamp.com

IG: https://instagram.com/sleepshow

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

It’s almost mind numbing to see how great the Dark Ambient genre has not only grown, but expanded in sound. It seems as if harsh noise and industrial ambience is coming more into existence and coupling with the bleak intonations of Dark Ambient soundscapes and drones. The albums in this list represent change, growth and also homage to the influences of modern day Dark Ambient music. I hope you enjoy these summary reviews as much as I did putting them together.

1. The Owl – Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity

The Owl specialized in noise terror and monstrous modulations that are presented in a controlled chaos offering. ‘Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity’ is an improvised endeavor that plays on the decline of normalcy and the abruptness of ataxia. Rigid guitar tones set against the strident sounds of industrialized soundscapes and eerie narrations set a precedence of tonal despondency. As mesmerizing as it is turbulent, this albums is just another gem in the vast The Owl discography.

https://theowl.bandcamp.com/album/55-beyond-the-vastness-of-infinity

2. Aleksis Tristan Shaw – Loud Nothing

Multi-talented, multi-genre artist Aleksis Tristan Shaw, once again dabbles in the world of Dark Ambient music with the twisted oblation, ‘Loud Nothing’. Combining the forces of demented horror sounds, spacious soundscapes and drifting drones, this is a compelling story of electronic proportions. Elongated drones provide a hypnotic state while supernatural subtleties and sequences keep the listener from completely going under with hints of smoldering tension. At times, spacey, and other times downright grim, this recording is a full offering of Dark Ambient amusement and is fascinating to say the least.

https://aleksistristanshaw.bandcamp.com/album/loud-nothing

3. Crepuscular Entity – Zwolf Bagatellen

‘Zwolf Bagatellen’ is an exercise in harsh frequency delivery and the chaotic amplification of audial discord. Consisting of twelve tracks of white noise, with belligerent modulations, this is a test of determination and surviving the true grit of noise ambience. Filled with abrupt soundscapes and extreme reverberation, this album is a massive overdose of music that is meant to overtake the sense and infiltrate the mind. Listen at your own risk but prepare to be amazed at the indulgence of extreme electronic music.

https://crepuscularentity.bandcamp.com/album/zwolf-bagatellen

4. Drone Islands – Volume I / II / III

‘Drone Islands – Volume I /II / III’ is a massive collection of ambient magnificence, containing beautiful audial offerings from an array of artists. This album combines the work of all Drone Island releases to include, ‘Land Rising’, ‘The Lost Maps’ and ‘Stellar’. Some of the biggest names in the Dark Ambient community lend their services to this recording such as Ashtoreth, Kammarheit, BlackWeald, Taphephobia, Alphaxone and Infinexhuma. These types of collective albums are a real treat, as you get a cluster of unique musical achievements in a single album. This is an exemplary collection that must be heard.

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/drone-islands-volume-i-ii-iii

5. Long The Night – Illusion

‘Illusion’ is an assemblage of beguiling drones with cinematic-like production. Although starting out with a light ambient vibe, the mood swiftly changes on track two, “Untold Mind” and a belligerent tone is thrusted into this space ambient endeavor. These songs sequentially crescendo into a mammoth-like sound and slowly fade out into oblivion before shifting to the next moment of surprising moments. There are moments that are influenced by the Warhammer 40k sound, while the majority of the album is like a dark space excursion. This is an excellent album that fits right in with some of the top names in the genre.

https://kalpamantra.bandcamp.com/album/illusion

6. Pavor Nocturnus – Bosch

Pavor Nocturnus specializes in flowing light drones that are delivered in an obscure pallet of ominous soundscapes, torturous industrial sounds and peaceful samples and field recordings. All fused together, this is an eerily harmonious endeavor that will be pleasing to fans of multiple Dark Ambient sub-genres. ‘Bosch’ is eclectic blend of soulful modulations that don’t have a particular flow (from track to track), but works very well in the overarching concept of the album. This is an amazing recording that I cannot recommend enough.

https://musicpavornocturnus.bandcamp.com/album/bosch

7. Sij & Textere Oris – Reflections At The Sea

Sij & Textere Oris is one of the most fascinating Dark Ambient collaborations on the Cryo Chamber label roster. Although only having released two albums on the giant label, they are both top quality endeavors that are unique in their own way. On latest effort, ‘Reflections At The Sea’, soothing drones are met with enchanting vocal melodies and theatrical reverberations that produces a theatrical-like sound. From piano chops to random sound effects, this album is put together magnificently and will warrant multiple listens. This is definitely one not to miss.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-at-the-sea

8. Melanohelios – The Durance Machine

In my opinion, Melanohelios doesn’t put out music often enough. There is something very addictive with Melanohelios albums and I can’t quite put my finger on it. However, I can say that what you’ll get with each album is an exclusive listening experience – one just as good as the next. On ‘The Durance Machine’, there are two tracks of mind-melding drone work that lasts the better part of thirty six minutes. While listening, you’ll find yourself drifting between peaceful experiences and terrifying moments that flow together with extreme transparency. This is another alluring album from such a reclusive entity.

https://melanohelios.bandcamp.com/album/the-durance-machine

9. Marco Pianges – Somewhere

Dark tones and blistering keys set the backdrop for this escapade of quality electronic tracks. With a plethora of samples and soundscapes, this short album is a cacophony of aggressive moment and angst-filled resilience. The genius aspect of this album is the malevolence hidden in the peaceful details – like a field of beautiful flowers in the dead of winter. Even with just twenty minutes of playing time, this five track album is a beast to contend with and will surely please all fans of Dark Ambient music.

https://ukhanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/somewhere

10. Northumbria – Isolering

If you’re a fan of Dark Ambient music, you should at least be aware of the haunting entity known as Northumbria. With a list of unrivaled albums on the Cryo Chamber label, the stringed duo often ventures out independently and continues to produce quality ambience. On 2021’s ‘Isolering’, we’re presented with four ominous tracks containing nearly seventy five minutes worth of mesmerizing intonations. These extended efforts take the listener down a blackened path and instill a relentless blend of lethargic tones and reverberated modulations that are simply paralyzing. In my opinion, this is one of their best efforts and the mood that it sets is quite compelling.

https://northumbria.bandcamp.com/album/isolering

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Maronian Athenaeum Transcribes An Epic Adventure Into Sonic Excellence On ‘The Fall Of Svælinørg’

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!!

Links:

https://themaronianathenaeum.bandcamp.com/album/the-fall-of-sv-lin-rg

Top 10 Dark Ambient Releases Of 2021

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

10. Blackweald – 666 Minutes In Hell

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

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

9. Xerxes The Dark – Soundtrack To The Blind Owl

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

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

8. Dead Melodies – Fabled Machines Of Old

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

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

7. Mora-Tau – Wellcome Back, Nuclear Summer

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

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

6. Wampyric Solitude – Echoes Of Undying Darkness And Bloodshed

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

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

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

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

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

4. Sydalesis – Living Machine

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

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

3. Hilyard – Division Cycle

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

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

2. Delmak-O – The Colony

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

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

1. Sumatran Black – A Taxonomy Of Grief

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

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

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

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

1. Beyond The Ghost – The Desolation Age

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

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

2. Max Corbacho – Nocturnes III

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

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

3. Kalte – Morphology

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

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

4. Uburgrund – Dionelos

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

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

5. Cities Last Broadcast – The Umbra Report

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

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

6. Dr0ne – Nimb

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

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

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

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

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

8. Alphaxone & Proto U – Back To Beyond

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

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

9. Bonzaii – Death In The Cities

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

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

10. European Drought – By Ways Of Winter Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Melodies Links:

https://deadmelodies.bandcamp.com

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