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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dead Melodies Links:

https://deadmelodies.bandcamp.com

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

Dev-I-Ant’s ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ Is An Intense Descent Into Clouded Realms Of Uncertainty

There is nothing like horror-fueled Dark Ambient music. Of course, the ominous sub-genre is generally inspired by post-apocalyptic settings or components of deep space, but the malevolence created with nightmarish soundscapes takes it to a whole new level. One artist that frequents the use of such sounds is Dev-I-Ant. Using a wide array of ominous textures and modulations, they further a unique signature sound with the use of bleak – sometimes modulated – narrations. This combinations produces a very desolate sound and ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ is a product of said efforts. These seven tracks enhance an austere listening sequence that is as terrifying as it is engaging.

“The Cloven Kiss” makes a grand entrance for the album with a succession of loud blasts as if signifying the beginning of a post-apocalyptic war. A barrage of soundscapes, field recordings and samples produce a terrifying scene of chilling consequences and the start of maniacal narrations soon ensue. “You Are The Devil In Disguise” commences with a sequence of drones that sounds like they are caught in a chaotic loop. Screams and jolting effects can – at first – be heard in the background but a loud thunderous clash definitely get the heart pumping due to its unexpected entrance. Grim narrations once again provide a malevolent storyline as a seemingly endless supply of visceral noises continue to infest without restraint. “The Path I No Longer Follow” is like a motionless dreamscape, where the listener is pinned down by spirited coercion. A wall of white noise slowly crescendos into the mix like a calming splash of ocean waves and delivers an eerie effect with spiraling consequences. Next up is “Where Flesh And Soul Depart”. Beginning with a bone-crushing thunderstorm sound, the tolling of the bell signifies immediate danger to all that can hear it in the surrounding areas. Swaying drones are conjured from the depths like an inbound flock of demons that are ready to instill a season of fear. Loud, pounding bangs compliment the destructive efforts before more harrowing narrations come about. This is also the longest track on the album at just over ten minutes in length and it has its fair share of chaos and dismay. Following that is the second longest track, “Gone For Good”. Reverberated drones set a placid backdrop for a series of bizarre effects and soundscapes, most notably a droid-like machine that is communicating in its robotic language. This can be heard throughout the majority of this nine plus minute track and the more it rattles off it’s series of zeros and ones, the more menacing it begins to sound. “The Winds That Carries The Fog” commences with a sound just as the title suggests. With almost a demonic sound to it, these ferocious modulations are reminiscent of walking through a dark cave, without a light and following the deathly noise just to try and make it out alive. The occasional sudden clank of industrial tones increase the creepiness and prepare the listener for the continued narrations, that sound cloudless and much deeper than earlier injections. The final song on the album is the title track, “Progression Of The Wolf”. Spacious drones commence while frequent howls indicate that the predatory creature is closer than expected. The ensuing soundscapes and field recordings depict a grim scene of people trapped in a cabin, deep in the woods and surrounded by wolves. As they draw closer, the cabin goers realize their demise but try to frighten them away with loud bangs on the door. However the beasts prevail, and the adventures end for the trapped humans.

Dev-I-Ant are like seasoned veterans in the world of Dark Ambient with their signature sound that could be considered more like Terror Drone than Dark Ambient. Nevertheless, ‘Progression Of The Wolf’ is a fascinating album with startling results. The substantial use of narrations combined with an abundance of soundscapes and field recordings provide gruesome surprises around every corner. If you’ve not heard this extremely impressive release, please head to the link below and download this gem and prepared to be abashed by the insane compositions contained within. You have been forewarned!

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

Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

Mahr G’Didj Composes Dungeon Synth With Unfathomable Twists And Turns On ‘Crane & Crescent Pt. 3: Fate’s Bottomless Well, E’er Churn Her Waters’

Since last year, Mahr G’Didj has been on a roll with the ‘Crane & Crescent’ series of recordings. Divergence seems to be the driving factor that makes these albums stand out amongst the genres’ elite. That particularly holds true on the third outing, ‘Crane & Crescent Pt. 3: Fates Bottomless Well, E’er Churn Her Waters’. From comfy synth and carnival-like anthems to progressive key chops, traditional dungeon synth sounds and obscure black metal intonations, this album branches out like no other. There is a lot to talk about on this effervescent gem, so let’s discuss these contrasting (yet homogeneous) tracks.

The albums lead off track, “Elegy Reprise”, is a cozy little piece that would make anyone feel right at home, snuggled up in front of a warm winter fire. However, the intimate setting doesn’t last long as ”Infiltration, Ruined Arkell” takes this album in a completely different direction. The coziness is replaced with a symphony of keys, synth effects and looming drum pads that hammer away at a fast pace. There is a sense of hurried aggression to this piece as it suddenly comes to a halt and immediately leads into “Three Altars (Kminthi, Lilliah, Piellen Gi)”. An odd sequence begins the track and then a diabolical melody provides another twist in this album of a menagerie of sounds. This track almost sounds like a looping house soundtrack that you would hear while playing winless games at a carnival. However there are enough bizarre sequences to keep the experience fun and refreshing. “Russo’s Ambition” commences with a clean – almost jazz-like – approach with mild percussion keeping a solid cadence in the background. The composition is less whimsical than on previous tracks and contains progressive elements that makes it one of the most engaging efforts on the album. The next song, “Bombs Over Argin” starts with a flashy keyboard loop that is soon backed by a haunting synth effect and bombastic drum pads. The drums are more enlightening than on previous tracks and are hopefully a good indication of broader elements to come. “Embraced By Shadow, Kissed By Venom (Lutecia’s Theme)” is my favorite track on the album and it’s also the point where the dynamics shift yet again. This time, massive guitars (with tremolo picking) and blast beats become the primary focus. There is a synthwave style bridge in the middle of the track that is equally compelling but the song finishes the same way it started – with seismic guitars and rushing drum sequences. “Grado’s Rest (Fate’s Bottomless Well)” is another fantastic track of variables. There are several layers of key effects, progressive drum beats and guitar strums that fuse together in majestic harmony. “The Defiled (Miranda’s Theme)” takes us back to the whimsical side but with a sense of apprehension, as climactic elements are on full display. The drum track also stands out in several spots and are programmed in perfect fashion. Toward the middle of the song, doomed guitar riffs add a touch of heaviness and nostalgic vision. “Elicia Ascendant” begins with barely audible narrations and then melds into a delightful comfy synth arrangement. This is a light-hearted tracks with melancholic undertones and serene layers of synth bliss. The final track on the album is simply titled “Epilogue”. Beginning with a fantasy synth style, it soon breaks into a Disney-esque composition that could be used as a jingle for one of the theme park’s attractions. Such a tranquil and pliable way to end this remarkable album.

Mahr G’Didj has made quite an impression on me with his unique way of composing unconventional songs while remaining true to the Dungeon Synth genre. From Comfy Synth to Carnival-themed songs and Black Metal blasts, this album is totally entertaining from start to finish and will ultimately please fans that love a variety of nuances on a single album. Be sure to download this album – as well as the previous albums in the ‘Crane & Crescent’ series – from the link below.

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

Links:

https://oedsvyrtstower.bandcamp.com/album/crane-crescent-pt-3-fates-bottomless-well-eer-churn-her-waters

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

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

From the curator of this project:

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

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


All proceeds will go to Mind UK:

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

Hreám Recordings:

https://hream.bandcamp.com

Get Ready For A Psychedelic Trip Through Whimsical Dungeons On Temple Of The Fractured Light’s ‘The Groovopolis’

Talk about intriguing, Temple Of Fractured Light’s latest album, ‘The Groovopolis’ is a mesmerizing blend of genres, sounds, emotions, and fanatical experiences all wrapped up in one. This twenty eight minute long exploit is a deep dive into the psyche with psychedelic and tranquility overtones that are reinforced with bold but minimalistic compositions set to take the listener into a brave new world.

This kaleidoscopic journey begins with the audacious “Discard Your Earthly Body To Enter The Kingdom Of Light”. Commencing with an organ-like drone, we are soon greeting with tolling of the bells and an abrupt, distorted keyboard chop. Synth leads are introduced as a synchronous melody slowly comes together. As an introductory piece, this track sets a jubilant tone for the overall theme of the album. “Welcome To The Groovopolis” is a short track that continues the momentum and vibrantly adds a steady percussive beat, as if marching into unknown territories is inevitable. Discordant keys expand the boundaries, creating an uneasy atmosphere for those that dare to partake in the festivities. “Shamans Of The Great Prism Forest” is one of the most melodic achievements on the album, as multiple keyboard effects fuse together to establish a memorable audial encounter. The droning organ-like keys in the background really hold all of these sounds together, allowing for harmonized perfection. Battle-rhythm beats play an effective role as well, building an intricate song full of elaborate detail. “Fractal manner Of The Deep Forest” is a psychedelic dirge that assembles on simplicity and calming effects. The tones are soothing and otherworldly, and succeed at achieving a dreamy environment for an alternate state of mind. “Princess Of The Hallucinogenic Mushroom Dunes” brings out the whimsical effects and is one of the most upbeat tracks on the album. Combining steady percussive elements and layers of eccentric synths & keys, this song forges on a buoyant path while maintaining an incongruous arrangement. “Gargoyles Flying Free” is the shortest track amongst these gems, but bridges the gap between ethereal intonations and cinematic clarity. This brief experience is moody and provides a refreshing outlook on the estranged sound manipulations of the previous tracks. “Past The Vision Fields” is another amusing offering that is light and sincere. The piercing synth leads exhibits the most melodically structured stanza’s on the whole album and combined with the rhythmic synths and sporadic percussion section, this is definitely a standout track. The final track is the outlandish “Coronation At The Rainbow Temple”. This is surely the strangest endeavor but fits in perfectly with the rest of the album. The consistent use of barraging synth effects works well with this composition as it’s more of a dreamy piece with a somber appeal. As this album comes to a close, so does the psychedelic vibe, as this track brings us back to reality, more refreshed than ever.

Throughout its short history, Temple Of Fractured Light has made a valiant effort to include a nifty blend of synth groove, psychedelic flavor and unconventional themes to create an essence that stands out amongst its peers. ‘The Groovopolis’ is a stellar achievement that will stand the test of time and garner multiple listens in order to embrace its awesomeness. Even though this album came out at the first of the year, it’s never too late to embrace the culture of all things groovy and psychedelic. Please show your support by downloading this one-of -a-kind album!

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://templeofthefracturedlight.bandcamp.com/album/the-groovopolis

Sydalesis Constructs a Berlin School Classic With ‘Living Machine’

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

Eyre Transmissions XIII: Interview with Synth Extraordinaire, Elminster

With just over a year of active involvement in the Dungeon Synth scene, Elminster has managed to rack up quite an assortment of excellent albums. Whether released under his flagship moniker – Elminster – or other incredible crafts such as Anadûnê, The Owl Knight or DCCCVIII, it’s apparent that Elminster is in it for the long haul and is quickly becoming a “go to” artist for all of your Dungeon Synth needs. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Colin Bacon – the maestro behind all of these amazing projects – to find out what the driving force is behind all this talent, how he got into this genre of music, and what the future hold. Please enjoy this very detailed account for all things Elminster!

1. Thank you so much for this interview opportunity. Elminster hit the Dungeon Synth scene just over a year ago with the ‘Making Of A Mage’ series. Since then, you’ve been on a relentless spree of new album releases, other projects and splits. How did you get started in the genre and where are all of the fresh ideas coming from?

As much as I wish that I could say that my introduction to the genre was by finding a cassette hidden in the middle of a stone circle or castle, I actually found the genre via Youtube’s recommended function. I had checked out a few before, but the first handful to grab me were the Blood Tower/Apothecarium split, Barbaric Frost’s Against The Darkness, Coniferous Myst/Owlbear/Scrag/The Herbalists split (which Isaac was kind enough to sell me their artist copy of), and the Druadan Forest/Uruk Hai/Bannwald Split. All of these albums are magical to me and, even though I now know the basics of songwriting, I still am not entirely sure how each was made. Pivoting to the second part, I get a bit restless with my hobbies and often feel like I am climbing the walls if I am not able to indulge them, in a rather compulsive sense. As for the variety, I read a lot growing up, especially fantasy novels. Each of my projects is an attempt to capture a specific feeling within a wide and varied genre.

2. I want to go back to the ‘Making Of A Mage’ series of releases. Can you talk more about the inspiration for these EP’s and do you have a plan for anymore “Mage” albums?

The inspiration for TMOAM was a novel of the same name by Ed Greenwood, never has a book captivated me with such ease. My brain created a picture of every scene and ran wild with how I would make a movie for it, how it would be scored, etc. etc. (It would be animated similarly to the 1970s LOTR movies, if I had my way). When searching for what the alias of my project would be, Elminster just felt right and I decided in that same moment that my favorite novel required a soundtrack. Each of the EPs is named after a part of the book (part 1 was brigand, part 2 burglar, etc. etc.) and each of the song titles are referential to plot points. Seeing as I created a product that accomplished what I wished it to, there likely won’t be any more albums of that name, but I would certainly consider doing soundtrack albums for the other books in the Elminster series.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/the-making-of-a-mage-2

3. Earlier this year, you released the Crypt Hop EP, ‘Beats To Dungeon Crawl To’. This was definitely a seamless transition to another one of the fascinating Dungeon Synth sub-genres but was this something that had been planned all along or just an experimental effort?

When first creating the Elminster project, I did not know of Crypt Hop, it was only through the Vandalorum episode of Midnight Ambience and murmurings on facebook that I learned about it. I had been into the concept of beatmaking ever since discovering the grime artist JME during early lockdown. Through him, I got into UK Drill artists such as Digga D, Kwengface, Teezandos, Abra Cadabra, and Pop Smoke (an american who laid down NY Drill vocals over UK beats, rest in peace Bashar). I saved up my money and got FL Studio and began to learn how to make those types of instrumentals. While getting into each of the aforementioned genres, I began to realize that I enjoyed the fact that they borrowed from carribean dance rhythms and blended said rhythms with darker instrumentals. A practiced ear will likely notice that most trap artists put the snare on beats 3 and 7 while using a steady rhythm hi hat pattern, but these genres (drill especially) like to put the snare on beats 3 and 8 while using a nonlinear hit hat pattern, which gives the beat both bounce and swing. From there, my selfish desire to marry crypt hop and drill produced the EP in question.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/beats-to-dungeon-crawl-to

4. I have to talk about ‘Antipaladin’ as it’s one of my favorite efforts by you. How does your albums evolve from one epic story to another and what do you think makes this one stick out amongst your ever growing discography?

My albums usually get named near the beginning. I am usually on a nature walk and think “It would be awesome for an album of X name to exist. Alright, Colin, what would it sound like? What would the songs be called?”. The reason it stands out could vary from listener to listener, but the reason it feels different to me is that it was the first time I had had a mythological topic in mind and that I really pushed myself to learn a new songwriting style, which I’ve heard get called Berlin school (I’m a bit of a genre tourist with that genre, so I won’t claim to have a great understanding of its hallmarks).

5. You also did a very unique thing with this release by giving download codes for those that donated to the Shelter House Domestic and Sexual Violence Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fl. What was your decision to release this on a “give back” like scenario?

I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that I want to be involved in activism. I naturally lean a bit more introverted so I figured that leveraging my music would be the most effective and most comfortable way for me to do some good. On top of that, I figured that a DV shelter is something that pretty much anyone could get behind, so people would be willing to give more freely. I’d like to thank High Mage for being so willing to help me make this a reality and I’d like to thank the community for raising a combined $250 for those charities from that run, it really warmed my heart. I would also like to mention here that the split I have with Maiden Hair and coming out through Weregnome this October will also be giving its proceeds to (I believe 2 seperate) wildlife charities, please consider donating if you have the means to. I would like to make this type of release happen a few times a year.

6. In July of this year – almost a year after releasing albums under the Elminster moniker – you started a new project called, Anadûnê. Other than the music being a tad more cinematic than Elminster, what influenced the creation of this project?

This project was created because I was lucky enough to land a spot on the dev team of the Medieval II Total War Silmarillion Mod as the in-house musician. I felt like a project of that theme should be separate and approached with a different writing process.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/the-rise-of-gondolin-2

7. ‘The Rise Of Gondolin’ (by Anadûnê) is probably one of your coldest albums to date, but there is so much dreamy melody happening at the same time. How do you manage to incorporate these distant facets in order to create something so amazing?

Thank you! I’ll be honest, I don’t know. With that album, I didn’t let myself think too hard about it and just let myself write. I often find that it is pretty obvious when I overproduce a release and usually find that I enjoy trusting my instincts. Gun to my head, the patches I used were not as in your face and I leaned into them.

8. The Owl Knight is another fascinating project that draws upon chip tune, retro experiences and classic RPG theme songs. How are you able to make this sound so refreshing without being as whimsical as other chip tune recordings?

If I had to guess, the reason it doesn’t share a lot of the tropes with other chip tune recordings is a combination of hardware (I use toy keyboards as opposed to synthesizers/console sound cards), growing up after the era of 8 bit music being the de facto game soundtrack, and by being primarily inspired by the album Sunken Dungeon by Longsword. I also have listened only to a little bit of chiptune DS. It’s definitely good music, but there’s only so much time in my day.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/i

9. You have another Crypt Hop project out called DCCCVIII. First of all, what is the meaning behind the name and secondly please tell me that this is a long term project because it’s freaking amazing!

DCCCVIII is a nod to my love of using crazy 808 patterns in my beats, it is the roman numeral spelling of 808. I have no plans to stop that project, it has been both incredibly fun to write for and has been extremely good for me to have a new challenge, genre-wise.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/in-days-past

10. In August alone, you’ve released 5 albums including two splits. Where do you find the time to stay this busy and what’s behind all of the musical motivation?

I get incredibly restless and I don’t sleep a whole lot haha. On top of that, music has been a very rewarding hobby to get into. I love the dopamine hit I get when I hit the publish button or when I see people receiving their copies of my tapes.

11. The split release with Baerdcyn is so tantalizing that it’s quickly becoming one of my most listened to albums at the moment. Do you record music specifically for split releases or are they leftover tracks from previous efforts?

Thank you! I usually create them specifically for splits, I generally don’t keep a lot of “overhead”. When I finish something, I release it in most cases.

https://elminster.bandcamp.com/album/mystical-manifestations

12. I think split releases are very important as they show artist solidarity and help promote from within. What are your thoughts on this and do you have any more split releases in the works?

That is absolutely how I view them! I love the work of so many artists and selfishly want to have an opportunity to work with them and splits allow me to do that in a less invasive way. I also got into the genre through several splits and from doing so gained an immense appreciation for them. I have 2 more in the pipeline that are finished, 1 that I was doing the vocals for before I blew out my voice from screaming, and handshake agreements with a few artists for more in the future.

13. Do you have any plans to share your craft in a live setting, specifically during one of the Siege events?

I am certainly interested in playing live, but would probably only do so if reached out to. I would really want to do something fun for it if so.

14. What do you have in store for the rest of 2021 and what are your musical goals/dreams for 2022?

For 2021, I am planning on continuing to have fun writing different types of music. I have plans to try my hand at black metal and might give black ambient (think gonfanon but without being a fascist) once my 4 track arrives. In December, High Mage and I have agreed to do an event called Magemas, where they will be doing an entire month of my releases, so keep your eyes peeled for that (I hope they don’t mind me mentioning it here haha). For 2022, I plan to release an Elminster box set through them as well.

15. I really appreciate your time and thanks for all the great music! Do you have any final words or thoughts for those that may be reading this interview?

Thank you so much for having me! This has truly been an honor. My parting shot would be to ask the community to keep their eyes open for releases of mine with the charity element involved as their donations will be able to impact the wider world and allow our beautiful genre to do good for others. Stay safe and love each other. – E

Links:

BC: https://elminster.bandcamp.com/music

Ruptured World Segregates New Album, ‘Shore Rituals’ From The Planetary Series For A Darkened Realm Of Ancient Landscapes

Since 2018, Ruptured World has presented us with an astounding trio of albums in his Planetary series that follows the visionary experiences of several generations of archeological experiences, based on the discoveries of the Macrae family. Those albums expanded upon a universe with galactic drones and immense piano sequences that bridge the gap between haunting ambience and a clever storyline that thrills with divine amazement. Now back with an exploratory tale of maritime enthrallment, Ruptured World produces an audible story of daring adventure through sonic soundscapes, field recordings and a cryptic narrative. The end result is ‘Shore Rituals’, a near fifty minute excursion through dangerous worlds and environmental contemplation.

The majestic anthology begins with “The Merman”, an introspective nuance of various samples and soundscapes that slowly disintegrates into a somber drone with random musical oddities thrown in. The soothing nature of this intro sets a relaxing tempo and when the beautiful piano textures commence, it places this track on a whole new level. The sound of crashing waves in the background sends the listener to another world of natural scenic beauty. “Black Tides Harken To The Summons Of Eons” begins with peaceful wave motions before leading into a powerful percussive tone set to a dark cadence. Drones and hisses add a nostalgic feel as the amount of space provided allows for other sound patterns to evolve. “The Silencing Tide” carries on that same sediment as random frequency bursts create a vivid state of eeriness. Haunting soundscapes and vocalizations fill the void as this track seemingly comes to life. “The Whales Mouth” commences with a calming natural vibe while layers of placid drones and percussive elements produce a tranquil atmosphere. Random sounds of computer generated noises add a celestial feel, as this is one of the most dynamic tracks on the album. In typical Ruptured World fashion, we’re treated to a dose of spectacular narrations that verbally expand upon this audial transmission. “Radio Signature Interludium” launches with an array of modulations that puts the listener in the middle of a space mission, while a consoling piano melody systematically creates an offsetting foundation of bleakness. This obscure track ends with the commotion of relentless waves crashing along a desolate shore. “Catharsis II” is a spooky piano piece that features the retro sounds of tape hisses and a dragging element that slightly alters the speed of the track. The exquisite use of synth tones gives this a fantastic retro feel, as if taken from a 80’s science fiction movie soundtrack. Probably one of my favorite songs on the album. “The Human Vessel” continues on with the maritime field recordings while adding an ominous musical recording that is barely detectable. Soon, an alluring piano melody is added, increasing the magnificent appeal of this track. Another narrative sequence provides a supplemental piece to this adventure, increasing the depth of this darkened experience. “Bow Fiddle Rock” is a no-frills dark ambient excursion that is as hypnotizing as it is sedative. Minimalistic drones lean more to particular warmness, but it’s the maniacal samples that proves it’s disturbing appeal. “The Unexplained Fury” extends the bleakness of the previous track with enthralling drones and crisp soundscapes that submerge the listener into an enchanted maritime experience. There is also a soothing melody throughout that is reminiscent of a retrospective dreamscape. The last track on the album is “The Three Kings”, a final glance into this fascinating tale of ancient oceanic mystery. Harrowing drones and suspenseful synth chops bridge the worlds of suspended animation and natural essence. These looping sounds create an epic realm of controlled chaos and ethereal beauty. Obscure samples and random radio frequencies fuse seamlessly with these qualities, producing a transient ambience of the highest order.

It’s apparent that the audial cosmos created by Ruptured World come naturally. Every album emulates a particular environment, whether it’s in a series of recordings or a diversion into a different realm. ‘Shore Rituals’, allows Ruptured World to have a clean break from the Planetary albums while diving into a new environment of quintessential excellence. I appreciate this new atmosphere and particularly like the massive use of field recordings and samples as it conceives a unique take on the Dark Ambient genre. If you’ve not had the opportunity to spin this fascinating recording, I can’t recommend it enough. Please download this fantastic album from the link below.

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

Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/shore-rituals

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

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