Eyre Transmissions X: Interview With Dark Ambient, Dungeon Synth & Metal composer, Scorpio V

Scorpio V is one of the most accomplished musicians in the synth world. The multi-genre specialist has achieved insurmountable triumph in most of the projects that he’s released. From Dark Ambient mainstay, Metatron Omega to the amazing Dungeon Synth act, Stronghold Guardian, Scorpio V utilizes his musical dexterity to create synth music of another level. I recently had the opportunity to find out a little more about his prodigious projects, musical background and what’s to come in the near future. I hope you enjoy this interview with one of the best in the business.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your amazing projects. What is your background (musically) and have you always played synth-based music?

My pleasure. I don’t have a formal musical or some other “artistic” background. I’ve just always found myself having the need to either reproduce what I see (by drawing it) and hear, or to create something new based upon what I’ve been presented with. I was always the type of person who cannot just passively listen to music – I had to get involved in the process of making it. As for the musicianship itself, my early beginnings were with keyboards. Although I’ve grown up listening to metal and held great esteem for electric guitar as an instrument, it was only after I’ve dabbled with keyboards, synths and industrial/ambient music that I’ve started also playing the guitar. So, yes, one can say that synths, sound programming and sound design were, and still are, my main niche.

2. The albums on your Prometheus Studio Bandcamp page range from metal, dungeon synth, dark ambient, and various other synth projects. What usually sets the tone for the style of album that is released at any particular time?

There are absolutely no rules for me when it comes to creating something, although as one may have noticed, what I create can mainly be defined by atmospheric, lush, dark or sometimes “grandiose” spectre of experience. I just get the inspiration for something and start channeling the energies. If I should pinpoint what exactly influences the process, it is my life and experiences, my imagination and philosophy. Other than that, it could be the stuff I listen to, literature I read, sometimes a game whose lore or atmosphere I find immersive (although I very rarely actually play them). Same goes for a movie, especially soundtrack and visuals (LotR being a great example here).

3. My first introduction to your music was the Metatron Omega project – which releases music via the Cryo Chamber label. That is by far, one of my favorite Dark Ambient projects of all time. What inspired you to write such monumental arrangements for this project?

Metatron Omega is a story for itself, as is Paleowolf. The main inspiration for creating Metatron Omega was mainly philosophical, coming from the spiritually oriented literature (and readings about the inner workings of some historically important secret societes). I think that on some level, I had the need to create a kind of a “soundtrack” for myself while studying those topics and wandering through my own path of self-discovery. Through the landscape of sound, I’ve channeled what I was experiencing while searching for something greater than myself. I also listen to a lot of church music, litanies, gregorian chants, orthodox russian and Byzantine monastic music, therefore creating ambiental music with those elements has been a natural process.

4. ‘Evangelikon’ was my Dark Ambient album of the year for 2019 and I’ve since been hoping for more Metatron Omega releases. Do you have any plans this year for that project?

Yes, there’s a new album in preparation since the beginning of the year. A few things that happened in the meantime slowed it down. I can’t say for sure if it’s going to be this year, but I’m holding a place in my mind to get back to it.

5. After Metatron Omega, I soon discovered you were behind the projects on the Prometheus Studios Bandcamp page and spent a lot of time deep-diving into those projects like Gaetir The Mountainkeeper and Paleowolf. Although those are Dark Ambient projects as well, they are so very different from each other. Can you talk about how each of those projects came about?

Paleowolf’s story is a big one, I’m not sure if summing it up in a sentence or two would do the justice to the journey I went on with that project. For the sake of this interview, let’s say that I was always interest in prehistory (human or not), and shamanism drew my attention in my teenage years. All these years listening to Mongolian throat singing and shamanic overtone singing, and then one night of immersive myself in Syven’s “Aikantaite” the energies collided into something beyond me. So, put all this together and Paleowolf was born. And it all came spontaneous, natural to me, I had little to ponder about. Gaetir the Mountainkeeper begun somewhat differently, as a way to channel my imagination and journey with Norse mythology, put through my own emotional lense. I felt the need to take my own part in creating the atmosphere for the mythos and nature of the North. Although I can’t say why exactly I “chose” to manifest it in the style I’ve chosen.

https://gaetirthemountainkeeper.bandcamp.com/album/vetrarlj-s

6. Another project that I love – and one that helped solidify my love for modern Dungeon Synth – is Stronghold Guardian. Are you a big fan of that genre as well, and who are some of the artist that you looked to for musical direction for that project?

Dungeon synth followed me since my early plunge into the water of Black metal (as, I suppose, happened with majority of people in DS circles). Of course, in those time I didn’t know that if you put synths and black metal vocals together you call that a ‘dungeon synth’. I always went for the dark atmosphere – using synths and other instruments than electric guitar proved to work very well in achieving this kind of atmosphere. I actually begun finding synths, strings, drones to work much “better” than guitars when it comes to delivering something a lot more immersive. As for the influences, Summoning has been, and still is, one of my favorite projects and influences in a couple of my creations.

7. You recently released a new album under that moniker – ‘Castlelord’ – which is a rework/remastering of earlier material, to include metal guitars. How did this creation come about?

I just wanted to hear how Stronghold Guardian material would sound with electric guitars added. Seriously. And since I was satisfied with the outcome, I’ve decided to share it with the rest of the world.

https://strongholdguardian.bandcamp.com/album/castlelord

8. On some of the tracks, I sense an early Graveland influence. Did any of the mid 90’s Viking Black Metal bands/albums inspire any of these reworks?

Viking black didn’t have much of an influence on Stronghold Guardian. I listen to a lot of different genres and styles so most often than not, I’m not aware of the actual inspiration. When I think about it now, perhaps some clean vocal parts may have come from Limbonic Art’s “In Abhorrence Dementia”. That album also had a magnificent synth work. Fantastic album overall and certainly another influence.

9. One project that has really grown on me is Nebulon. It’s a great project but the ‘Across The Solar Tides’ album was on another level. It had more of a Berlin School/early Tangerine Dream influence. Was that the direction intended?

Sure, Nebulon is definitely following the trails set by ’70-’80 German-French electronics and Berlin School. Early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze’s solo works too. Let’s also not forget early Vangelis (his synth work) and the masterpieces of Jim Kirkwood, such as “Middle Earth” and “Souls that Dance on The Edge of the Sword”, “Nightshade in Eden”, etc. Nebulon somewhat tried to merge all these into a different gestalt and drown it in the sea of lush cosmic, interstellar ambient with its own complex narrative.

https://nebulonambient.bandcamp.com/album/across-the-solar-tides

10. You recently released two albums [edit: a third album had been released by the time of this publishing] under the Monasterium Imperi name. These are the perfect albums to listen to, especially while waiting for more Metatron Omega, but what makes these projects so different?

The way I see it, the major difference is in the structure of the tracks and type of chanting. Metatron Omega is using heavy and masssive church choirs, most often processed in a droning/brooding manner in the midst of the ‘wide’ atmosphere and heavy dark ambient drones; while Monasterium Imperi keeps things a bit ‘simpler’ and more focused, using structured solo chants upon melodic strings. And of course, there’s a great difference in thematic. Metatron Omega deals with spiritually-oriented philosophy of our world and Universe, a journey of self-discovery, while Monasterium Imperi leads us into the fantasy-inspired Cathedral-worlds spread throughout the Galactic Empire set into an alternative universe, in a far future.

https://monasteriumimperi.bandcamp.com/album/chants-of-liberation

11. What process do you use for recording the amazing Gregorian chants?

It depends where I want them and what I try to achieve. Some are sung by me, some are sampled, and something is a work of the VSTs.

12. One of your more serene (and popular) projects is Forest of Yore. How hard is it to go from bleak and ominous sounds to a more somber and tranquil sound without losing the Scorpio V identity?

For me not ‘hard’ at all. I’m very close to Nature, I’ve spent great deal of time in forests since I was young (and still striving to spend even more time). Forests are one of my main inspirations, not just for musicianship but for my life conduct, philosophy and spirituality. A forest can provide both ‘dark’ and ‘light’ contexts and evoke an entire spectrum of emotions. So, as much as I’m awed by the darkness and mystery of it, the forest also evokes a feeling of blissfulness, a kind of aural peace that surrounds you while you make your way through the unknown path, and into the distance of the trees. Forest of Yore is a soundscape for just this tranquil ambiance far away from the rush of modern society.

https://forestofyore.bandcamp.com/album/mythical-woodlands

13. You have a couple of older projects (Temple of Gnosis & Grailknight) that haven’t produced any new material in a few years. Do you have any plans to keep this projects going?

I don’t have precise plans for some of my projects, such as those two mentioned. I’ve created something out of a ‘need’ to create and that’s it. I usually don’t have a ‘yearly plan’ of what I’m going to do, not to mention a plan to create this or that album. So, we’ll see.

14. There are a few other projects that I love, but didn’t ask about specifically such as Orkforge & Shogun’s Castle. Can we expect new releases from these projects as well.

I think you can, because I’ve already worked on some material with Shogun’s Castle. Still, I have to get into the mental spaces for both projects in order to properly think about hows and whats.

https://shogunscastle.bandcamp.com/album/the-ancient-arts-of-self-discipline

15. These days, cassettes are making a comeback – especially in the Dungeon Synth scene. Do you plan to continue cassette releases for some of your projects? How about a second run of cassettes for the Shogun’s Castle project?

Indeed, cassettes have (again) come a massive hit these days. It’s just amazing to see so many people involved in it and being interested in a pretty much overly outdated medium compared to the technology of this day and age. So, yes, I’ve thought about continuing to put out cassettes for other projects, and perhaps a re-release of some of Shogun’s Castle albums.

16. I really appreciate the time that you’ve take to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought or comments for your fans that may be reading this interview?

You’re welcome and thank you for your interest in my work. Actually, the interview was quite comprehensive thanks to your questions, so I’m satisfied in leaving it as it is.

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:

Bandcamp: https://prometheusstudio.bandcamp.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prometheusstudio.official

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCttFYkVyUGHWsopvkRZgJbg

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/prometheusstudio

Eyre Transmissions IX: From Death Metal To Dungeon Synth, Whispering Mirrors Carries On The Old-School Grandeur

The ties between metal and dungeon synth has been present since the inception of the genre. Although, predominantly a larger influence has been drawn from the mystical shrouds of black metal, death metal shares a similar allegiance. Whispering Mirrors has affiliated with both death metal and dungeon synth and now fully focuses all efforts in composing epic, old-school dungeon synth without compromise. I had a chance to chat with the driving force behind this project and was intrigued by the influences and depth of everything that has been conceived, as well as the direction it’s headed. Please enjoy this interview session with Whispering Mirrors.

1. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Let’s start by talking about the dawn of Whispering Mirrors. Was it initially intended to be a death metal project or a multi-genre endeavor?

Hey thanks for the interview! When I decided to form Whispering Mirrors back in 2018, I initially only planned to release Dungeon Synth music specifically. I ended up releasing Altar Knife only because I wasn’t entirely confident in my keyboard abilities at the time and wanted to show that I also played guitar (an instrument I felt way more proficient in). I also wanted to keep the project open to other musical styles and influences so I wouldn’t be completely locked down playing only Dungeon Synth music. As a side note, I started making what would later be called Dungeon Synth back in 2004 but those albums and that era is a story for another day.

2. There is a definite parallel between black metal and dungeon synth but do you feel that death metal provides that same equidistant value?

Interesting question, I never really thought about it! I think the imagery and a lot of the lyrics of extreme metal in general are a huge influence on many in the scene, myself included (polishes gauntlet). 

3. How was the transition from shorter metal tracks to dungeon synth tunes of epic song lengths?

To me it was secretly always what I wanted to do. I always enjoyed long ambient tracks, Dungeon Synth or otherwise, because they can take you/are designed to take you on a journey (it’s hard to tell an epic tale through traditional, three minute song lengths). Repetition and variations on themes create the song length intrinsically. I also think, fundamentally, that Dungeon Synth is Mortiis and the blueprint laid out in his early albums is what Dungeon Synth should be.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/altar-knife

4. These days, there are many sub-genre’s of dungeon synth. What sound/style does Whispering Mirrors best relate to?

Whispering Mirrors main, original goal was to create “Traditional” or “Old School Dungeon Synth” directly inspired by Mortiis. That is what Dungeon Synth will always be to me; the truest form and the style that resonates most with me. Presently, I’d say I’m a bit more open to experimentation and other sounds in general, so we’ll see what the future has in store.

5. From ‘Grammaticon’ to ‘The Stuff Of Old Dreams’, I can sense a shift from more ethereal tones to a Medieval sound. Was that due to intentional growth or experimentation…or both?

It was a bit of both. A lot has to do with fully buying in – literally. The midrange keyboard that I used on Grammaticon didn’t really have the sounds I wanted when it came to the traditional sound I was going for. Once I upgraded to a true workstation/synthesizer (or three or four), suddenly I found myself using more and more real sounds and better pads. I was also playing more with sounds other than strings so naturally a more varied sound comes through on “Dreams.” If you can make a good brass sound and couple it with a timpani, you’re well on your way to medieval.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/grammaticon

6. Your latest album, ‘Stuff Of Old Dreams’ is phenomenal! Is there a backstory to the music?

Firstly, thank you! I feel a bit like this release slipped under the radar. I wrote “The Stuff of Old Dreams” with the concept in mind first and that concept was “bravery.” Basically, it’s a story about a knight going solo to slay a dragon. No metaphors here, just blood and steel. I was watching Dragonslayer and thought this is it, this is the concept for the new album! In hindsight, it seems like such an obvious theme that I’m really surprised I don’t come across more albums with this concept.

7. I like how these two tracks seamlessly flow between louder rhythms & tones and elegant passages. What’s your strategy for piecing all of this music together?

Grammaticon had a very loose theme, more tones and imagery I had in mind while I composed stream of conscious. I wanted to make a true concept album this time around so I really started by writing the story. Once I knew the story arc, I started hammering it out musically and then went back over and over again refining passages and adding layers to fit the narrative. My strategy really isn’t the best for getting music out quickly! At least, it takes me forever as I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I think at the core of my creative process is a very real sense of don’t rush it and really only working when I want to/feel inspired to. I might go three or four weeks not even touching a keyboard and then sit down on a random Saturday and knock out ten minutes of usable material all at once. I’m a big believer in the subconscious mind always working in the background and most of the time I’m thinking about this project and what I want to do musically with it without even touching a keyboard. Once I finally sit down to compose, I know exactly where I’m going.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/the-stuff-of-old-dreams-2

8. Do you ever have those moments where you think of a riff, keyboard chop or rhythm in the middle of the night while trying to sleep and then get up and record? How about while at work or away from home?

Absolutely! I have a ton of recorded voice memos that go back years for both guitar and vocal melodies. I also keep a notebook by my bed for ideas in general.

9. Do you plan (or already have) any physical releases of your albums?

All the albums have been released through Ancient Meadow Records with the exception of Altar Knife, which was released on the now defunct Castle Wall Records. I plan to remaster all my albums in the future and self release them again on CD or cassette. 

10. You seem to be a well versed musician. Besides your Whispering Mirrors solo material, have you been involved with any other projects?

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 14 and did the whole singer songwriter thing for years before starting Whispering Mirrors. I was also the vocalist in a punk band in high school and a Black Metal band in my mid twenties. Whispering Mirrors really covers all my bases at the moment so I don’t see the need to start another project or band (or join one for that matter).

11. Do you have any big musical plans for 2021? Recording, collaborations, playing live, etc..?

I’m currently working on some new material that’s quite a bit different than what I’ve been doing for the past two years. Since the pandemic started, I’ve recorded two EPs that may or may not ever see the light of day. Both of them are very “Old School” in sound and style but ultimately I was bored with the results. I was actually watching an interview with Fenriz where he describes the shift from playing technically to simply and how Darkthrone benefited from that in so many ways. While I’ve heard that particular story a million times, for whatever reason this time it sunk in. Old School Dungeon Synth is difficult for me to preform live and that’s the direction I see this project going or at least, that’s my new goal for 2021-playing live. I’m so used to playing along with a drummer and I miss that. I’m also a better player when I have that structure behind me so I look forward to incorporating more drum sounds in the future.

12. Now that would be a cool concept – full band playing dungeon synth (maybe 2 keyboardists, guitarist and/or bassist and a percussionist). Would you ever consider something like that?

I’d be the first guy to say yes to joining something like that and then not show up for the second practice. I think that’s a cool idea, but fundamentally believe the solitary nature of Dungeon Synth is what makes it important and interesting. The more you move away from it being a one or two person creative outlet to something band like, the more it becomes something else.

13. I really appreciate your time and music and look forward to many more years of your tunes? Any final words for the Dungeon Synth fans that will be reading this?

Thank you again for your interest in my musical endeavors, I truly appreciate it! To those who have supported me and been there for me over the years (you know who you are) INFERNAL HAILS! To anyone new reading this, I hope my music can inspire you or help you along on your own musical journey. Stay true to your vision and everything else will follow.

Links:

Bandcamp: https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whisperingmirrorsofficial/

Eyre Transmissions VIII: Interview With Hungarian Dark Ambient Producer, Blackweald

Each and every year the Dark Ambient community continues to grow and the unexplored regions of intransigent frequency modulations expand beyond expectation. For a genre of such minimalistic underlying components, I’m continually impressed by the deluge of artist that maximizes their creative efforts with such a massive output. One of those artists – that caught my attention this year – is Hungarian Dark Ambient producer, Blackweald. With a handful of monumental albums already released in 2020, it was only fitting that I reach out to him and find out what creates the power and ingenuity behind this dark force. Please enjoy this very informative interview and then go download some Blackweald, and enjoy!

1. Before we get into Blackweald, tell me a little about your musical background, starting from your earliest memories (if possible).

When I was young, I was into Hungarian hip-hop and punk acts. I was amazed by how much energy one can draw from music, and also realized that there are feelings, atmospheres, thoughts that one cannot properly transfer by just words, but these translate quite well in music. 

Then I got into thrash metal by my friends, and later, when I dug deeper and bought a few black metal cassettes, I immediately knew that “This is it!”. It was in the mid-90s, so practically before the widespread usage of the Internet. Since no one around me like this genre, I had to dig deep to find bands on my own, order cassettes, etc.

Before there was Blackweald

As I got older, I really got into industrial, dark electro, experimental music, drone, etc., I learned that each genre has its artists that are producing music on the “negative” side of the spectrum. Like, one might hear upbeat electronic music, and think “fuck all this disco crap”, but then upon hearing an aggrotech act, realizes that “techno” can be done with aggressive vocals, eerie melodies, hard-hitting beats, and suddenly, it appeals to him. In the same vein, not all hip-hop artists are playing gangster rap or mumble rap. Or like, I always thought I hated doom metal, but in reality, I just dislike the heavy metal vocal style and the melancholic vibe. If it’s oppressive and harsh like Indian’s For All Purity, I adore it. So I like music regardless of genre, if it has a nasty/primal/negative/… vibe.

Nowadays, my current favorites, Irkallian Oracle, Nocternity, Svartsyn (the black metal one), Triumvir Foul,  Kriegsmaschine, Ævangelist, Ghostmane, Converge, etc. This, and a crapload of Hungarian hip-hop artists.

2. It seems like a lot of Dark Ambient musicians come from a metal background (or some other extreme form of music), why do you think this is?

I’d rather think that many people who are into dark music, be it dark ambient, dark electro or various experimental genres, these people are open-minded enough to listen to dark music regardless of genre. They’d eventually stumble upon several metal acts, and if they don’t specifically dislike distorted guitars, they’ll find some of the darkest atmospheres in music.
 
People who can sit down and enjoy a long, monotone dark ambient album are often the same people who enjoy a two hours long Swans album, or monotone black metal riffing. So I think the “goal” of these artists is very similar, even if the instrumentation is vastly different.

It’s also interesting how the scene building works for different genres (besides labels and press). Metal bands tend to do splits or concerts together, hip-hop artists like to get featured on each other releases. I wondered how it works for Dark Ambient, and quickly learned that it’s compilations and collaborations.

Cover art for ‘I Saw The Devil’ by Jorge Iracheta

3. Do you remember the moment that motivated you to become a Dark Ambient musician?

As pretentious as it sounds, I wanted to make music that I could not find elsewhere. Stuff I would enjoy listening to. Concepts that I would be interested in. 

I’m not saying that what I’m doing is the pinnacle of originality, rather it’s about “I’d love to listen to a space ambient concept album about my favorite cosmonaut” or “damn, I’d love to listen to this or that kind of drone sound.”, etc.

Actually releasing music is also a good motivator to close and seal these compositions. I’m sure most musicians know the “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” feeling. The more hours you are putting either into the mixing or mastering, the more you are seeing diminishing returns, so eventually, it has to stop. When I’m putting stuff out, I never have a “I would not change a single thing in this!” feeling, but I’m okay with that.

Of course releasing music that is selfishly created is contradictory, but hey, that’s what most musicians do.

I’ve been contacted with a few publishers and micro-labels, but so far, I declined these opportunities, to fully keep my independence.

4. Who are some of your influences in the Dark Ambient genre?

Although I have many favorites in the genre (Cryo Chamber Collaborations, Creation VI, Vestigial,…..) , most of the influences on this project are rather from different genres. Let me list a few.

Earth, who pioneered the drone metal genre. Dylan Carlson is my single biggest influence on the drone and minimalist aspect of music and both Earth2 and Hex are all-time favorites of mine.

Godflesh, not necessarily musically, but on how mixing different elements of genres can create something very unique. I mean, who would have thought that putting heavy guitars on half-assed hip-hop beats will create such an industrial vibe, that it will pioneer a whole new genre.

Swans’ later period, for their eclecticity, mixing noise rock, folk and ambient, and generally a ritual vibe with their music. Seeing these old people playing a punishing three hours long live show changed my mind regarding metal not being the heaviest music. 

Burzum, when Vikernes really brought ambient close together with black metal. Not with his ambient tracks! Just the way he composed his metal tracks and creates an ambient like atmosphere with metal instruments. 

For the ritual aspect, my main influences are Aghast, Zero Kama and Forest Silence.

5. You’ve mentioned the Swans several times and also Godflesh – two bands that I love very much. To me, both of these bands are one-of-a-kind, in that their sound is undeniably theirs, and they seem to incorporate so many different genre’s and sounds without loosing their audience or fan base. As a musician, why do you think this is, and what type of impact has that had on you with expanding your musical boundaries?

Both are led by uncompromising individuals and were highly influential back then. I gotta say, considering they are still relevant today, they are both even underrated, although Godflesh is well-known in the metal scene due to their notorious first record. I think both band’s fanbases are built upon the fact that they are meandering in style, at least that’s the case for me. Expecting the unexpected for such a bands new record is part of the thrill.

I feel sorry for bands that are bashed by their own fans when they explore further musically. Be it Mayhem with Grand Declaration of War or Bring Me The Horizon with Amo. Each new genre in music came to life by having outrageous ideas. Eg. Let’s deliberately crank this guitar amp up until it distorts. Such experiments are fine, even if they fail.

As for Blackweald, it only means that I fearlessly try out techniques, often disregarding if even I will later like it. I often let things “just happen” when composing, and go forward with “mistakes”. If I don’t actively hate it, I keep it like that. I have failed experiments (eg. Patricia), and I’m okay with that. Pieces sometimes just put themselves together, maybe in a bad way, time will always tell.

While at this topic, I think listeners who are throwing away music that they don’t love at first sight, are heavily missing out. Many of my favorites are bands or albums that I initially did not get or I thought “yeah, it might be good, but it’s not for me”.

6. There are many styles in the Ambient arena so when you first became a Dark Ambient musician did you do a lot of experimentation until you found the right formula and sound that represented Blackweald?

I think I will never find “the right formula” and I do not even have the intention to do so.  I don’t even mind if the sounds end out to be very different to what I initially had in mind. 

This is why I like compilation works. I happily took part in 3 of these so far, and really liked the restrictions that the thematic guidelines, song length limit and release deadline had put on me. It knocks me out of my workflow or offers a concept I haven’t even thought of.

7. Please tell us about the name Blackweald. How did you come up with the name and what does it represent?

The name is a foolish play around the name of one of my favorite black metal projects, Hate Forest.

I had the same approach with the name as with the music. Not striving for perfection, just having something that’s good enough.

8. When going in to make an album, do you always have a particular theme in mind, or do you just “see what happens” as you create the music?

I always have a thematic concept in mind, and often a musical one as well. Moreover, when I’m “covering” a real life story, as with “She and the Devil’s Sons” and “Leonov”, I already have the narrative concept in mind.

Eg. with “She and the Devil’s Sons”, the story is given, so I only had to piece together how I would musically represent each part. So I figured, there should be some ominous strings with carriage sounds for the part when she is being taken away (that part is an homage to one of the intro songs of early Carpathian Forest). Then some castle prison ambience for the imprisonment, some female vocals and unearthly growls for the pact her witch-nanny makes with the devil, etc.

Same approach with “Leonov”, I knew I wanted to begin with some heavy industrial sounds, representing Koralev as the “Grand Constructor”; then the lift-off of their spaceship with some propaganda music in the background; long space-ish drones for orbiting Earth; majestic choirs and samples of Leonov speaking during the actual EVA; something frightful when he fails to re-enter the spaceship; rattling machine sounds for the re-entry; and finally some winter ambient as they struggle to keep alive in the taiga, waiting to be rescued.

The problem artistically with these narrative concepts, is that you lock yourself into many things. Sure, you have room to experiment sound-wise, but the album or single has to represent the story. You cannot just skip parts of it, or add something that does not fit there narratively. Still, it’s a lot of fun to work on these.

For the rest of my material, even when there isn’t a real-life story behind the concept, it’s still the thematic concept that comes first, which immediately makes the musical concept clear for me as well.

9. Do you use physical equipment or computer-based VST’s (or a combination of both), when producing and recording your music?

It’s mostly digital equipment, although I sometimes use my acoustic and electric guitars. A good chunk of it is audio manipulation of misc. samples.

Eg. Under the Moon of the Dead Pig was made solely from samples (namely FreshFabrik, Keep of Kalessin, Hate Forest, Sunn O))), Shahmen, Zero Kama, Korn, Johan Johansson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Tsatthoggua, Prodigy, Wolvennest, Zombie Girl). Not a single original sound was used on that album, but I also did not use any VSTs. Just cutting, looping, pitch-shifting, stretching, filtering, etc. Then there is the opposite side, like “I Saw the Devil”, where I played most of the tunes myself on synth, and manipulated those.

I have to note that I pretty much work in a “no budget” way, hence the lo-fi production. I have an old PC and a broken midi controller. I don’t even have a proper sound card, just an integrated one. I’m often recording on my phone. I’m using two headphones, a 30$ one and a 3$ one. I’m just using what I have.

Any art has two components, idea and execution. I’m not short on ideas, so I have to work on getting the execution part right. I’m trying to focus on getting the craft right, and not focusing too much on the tools themselves.

10. Do you have any other musical projects that you are currently working on or is Blackweald an exclusive endeavor?

I’m doing vocals and playing guitar in a black/death metal cover band. This purely “analog” way of playing music is a perfect companion to the (currently) mostly digital nature of BlackWeald.

Besides music, I also like to write short horror stories, but as a non-native speaker of English, it’s quite a struggle.

11. As for Blackweald, what can we expect to hear in the future?

Right now I have 8 albums worth of concepts ready to be executed. Ranging from Lovecraftian, Dark Souls themed, sci-fi, about the rural life in my country, setting a novel of a friend of mine to ambient, etc.

Just the concepts and ideas for sounds, nothing recorded yet. I rarely work on projects in parallel, I rather finish any current work before jumping on the next one.

In the last few months, I’m working on a quite massive project, an extremely long, 10+ hours concept album. I often feel like it’s overburdening me, so as an exception to the above stated, Pure was born while working on this project. I just had to take a break from it, and fortunately, Pure came quite spontaneous and got shaped quite quickly. 

12. I appreciate this wonderful opportunity to conduct this interview! Do you have any final thoughts for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for your questions and thank you for your work in the DA/DS scene with continuous reviews and interviews.

There is so much music out there nowadays, even in niche genres like this, that it’s hard to get the attention of people.

I’d also like to thank all the people who listened to any of my output, supported me on Bandcamp, or sent me encouraging messages on social media. It means a lot!

Feel free to follow me on Bandcamp/Facebook/Twitter:

https://blackweald.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackWeald/

https://twitter.com/BlackWeald

Finally, I’d like to recommend a few albums to the readers. I guess most of you are quite familiar with Dark Ambient, so I’d rather recommend mostly outside of this genre:

⁃ Grave Upheaval – Untitled (2013): Although traditional metal instruments are used on this album, I’d rather consider it as a “power ambient” akin to Sunn O)))

⁃ Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (2017): Can you imagine black metal without distorted guitars? This is it! Amazing mystic atmosphere and temple-like vibe.

⁃ Walknut – Graveforests and Their Shadows (2007): Unmatched desolate feeling. The guitars sound rather like synth.

⁃ Slagmaur- Thill Smitts Terror (2017): Classic fairytales twisted into slow-paced avantgarde black metal.

⁃ Pagan Megalith – Túlvég (2017): Acoustic black metal music with ritual vibe.

⁃ Dälek – Absence (2007): If Godflesh would truly play hip-hop with a competent MC. 

⁃ Control Alt Deus ‎- Made Of Fire (2008): A short-lived aggrotech project, great melodies with visceral atmosphere.

⁃ Moor Mother – Offering (2020): A very talented experimental artist, just emerging in the last few years.

Finally, let me recommend a few dark ambient artists from my area: Abandoned Shelter, ∆ø∆ and Remete.

Links:

Bandcamp: https://blackweald.bandcamp.com

Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in popularity, the amount of artist surging onto the scene is astonishing. It seems like every few days A new artist appears, or three to five new recordings get released, causing me to maintain extra “Bandcamp Funds” in order to support this community as much as I can. One of the new artist that I’ve really been impressed with is Rectory and with their brand of Haunted Dungeon Synth, it opens up another sub-genre of ambient-based synth music for the ages. Debut recording, ‘Ghost Stories’, contains four ethereal tracks of breathtaking Dungeon Synth that borderlines medieval tones and eerie dark ambient passages that transcends multiple genres. With songs such as “Waking At Midnight” and “This Room Always Feels So Sad”, there is a sense of gloomy malevolence at play that is hauntingly beautiful, yet seemingly damaging to the soul. I recently had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Rectory to find out how they got started, the story behind “Haunted Dungeon Synth”, and anything in between.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. It seems like Rectory quickly infiltrated the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few months. What were some of your main influences for getting started?

That’s very kind of you to say so; I still feel like no bugger has heard of us. Not that I resent that, of course! It’s a scene that’s absolutely exploding at the moment and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

When I first started writing, I only really knew the big names in Dungeonsynth: Burzum, Mortiis, Jim Kirkwood… I explored more as I went and found some really great stuff. I don’t know how much it inspired me directly, though. Musically, I’ve taken the biggest inspiration from film composers, especially Joseph Bishara, Danny Elfman, Fabio Frizzi and Charlie Clouser. 

2. According to your Bandcamp page, you label your music as “Haunted Dungeon Synth”. What sets your music apart from the typical Dungeon Synth music that we hear quite often these days?

I love the medieval things and the sword and sorcery things that some people do, but it isn’t right for me. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts and hauntings since I was about eight or nine years old. I find the subject completely fascinating. If you’re a believer, it’s great that there’s a whole world to explore that we don’t understand yet. If you’re a total sceptic, isn’t it fascinating that your brain can do these things and make you think you’ve experienced something paranormal?

So, the idea for Rectory began to crystallise, and it became a little project for me to work on while England was on lockdown over COVID-19. It’s already gone further than I expected it to. 

If you mean musically, I guess it’s just the general sound. Our music is the antithesis of Comfy Synth. Hell, call us “Discomfort Synth” if you want. The moment we press ‘record’ we are thinking about how we can unnerve the listener.

3. Do you think that “Comfy Synth” has also influenced Rectory’s sound, but in a way that‘s condescending to that sub-genre?

Not at all. There are a few Comfy Synth artists whose worn I enjoy – Tiny Mouse, for example, is wonderful – but it’s not something we’re interested in writing. There’s certainly no backlash or condescension on our part. I’m happy they’re doing their thing, and I’m happy people love it.
The genre is already incredibly small and anti-commercial. I don’t think that infighting or sneering at what other artists are doing is productive for anyone.

4. For the releases that you currently have out, there seems to be a ghostly theme to the music and album covers. What inspires you to write around this subject matter?

Lifelong obsession, really. I love reading true ghost stories, and I’ve been to seances and ghost hunts. I just love all aspects of it. I’ve seen and experienced enough stuff to make me believe that some of it is real. The name “Rectory” is taken from Borley Rectory, which was allegedly the most haunted house in Britain until it was destroyed. 

I also took a lot of inspiration from classic ghost stories by guys like M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Hope Hodgson. There is an atmosphere to those tales that I really wanted to capture. Not that I don’t love modern stuff, too! Adam Nevill is an absolute master. Garth Marenghi is a huge influence on us, too.

5. Do you provide your own artwork for the albums as well?

The cover for “Ghost Stories” is an interior photo of Borley Rectory. The cover of “There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard” is one I took, myself, of my Ouija board.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-stories

6. How important is the ambient/atmospheric aspect to your craft?

100%. Rectory is nothing without the ambience and atmosphere. That’s often where the song-writing starts.

7. Do you think you might venture out into the Dark Ambient arena some day?

Possibly. A few people have said that they consider Rectory to be more Dark Ambient than Dungeon Synth, already. It’s totally possible we could gradually evolve that way. Lustmord is a huge influence on what we do. His soundscapes are incredible.
Of course, if anyone has a horror film that needs scoring, that’s something we’d love to do.

8. Before Rectory, were you involved with any other musical endeavors? If so, how was the transition to playing/recording Dungeon Synth?

Yeah, I’m a punk musician. Self taught. I’ve been playing and writing stuff since I was about fourteen, with varying degrees of obscurity.

I have very little musical theory under my belt, so that, and learning to play the keyboard from scratch were the biggest challenges. It’s been something totally outside of my experience and comfort zone, but that’s a large part of what has made it so rewarding.

9. Cassette releases seem to be a big thing in the Dungeon Synth community. Do you plan on any physical releases of your recordings?

Yes, Sol Moribundo has released “Ghost Stories” on cassette.

I’m not a fan of the format at all, but enough people were interested that I set out to make it happen. Sol Moribundo are a small, start-up label, but they’ve been great to work with.

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

Some conversations have been had, but nothing is in the pipeline at present. 

11. Tell me about your recording/playing setup. Do you use a mix of analog and digital recording equipment?

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/track/there-was-a-man-dwelt-by-a-churchyard

12. Do you have any desire to play live or do you plan to stick to being a recording artist only?

No, I’m an old man, now. My live performance days are well and truly behind me. To be honest, I’m not sure DS ever translates well into a live environment. If Summoning can’t make it work live, what chance do the rest of us have?

Plus I think so much of “the Rectory experience” – if I may be permitted to talk like an abject fucking nonce for a moment – takes place inside the listener’s head, and I worry any visuals would distract from that.  

13. These days, how much do you rely on social media to spread the word (and music) of Rectory?

It’s the only way of doing it. The Dungeon Synth groups on Facebook are incredibly open minded and supportive, and there’s a few really good blogs out there. One of them wants to interview me, but I forget their name.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview and thanks for the music that you provide to this wonderful community. Do you have any final words for your fans that may be reading this interview?

Sure. The Rectory album is in production, and will be out as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s called “The Rattle of Dry Earth”. After that, I’ll be working on a World War II themed DS project as a quick break, which should be a lot of fun.

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/RectoryOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Eyre Transmissions VI: Interview With Dark Ambient Producer And Cryo Chamber Recording Artist, Beyond The Ghost

Beyond The Ghost has been on a roll since joining the Cryo Chamber Label. In just under two years we’ve seen the release of a pair of exceptional albums – 2019’s ‘You Disappeared’ and 2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’. With each release, Beyond The Ghost has consistently delivered a unique blend of cinematic dark ambience combined with brilliant guitar and piano effects to produce soundtrack-like quality material that is not only memorable, but sustains a richness of depth and character as well. I recently had the pleasure to interview the maestro behind Beyond The Ghost – Pierre Laplace – to find out how he got his start in the Dark Ambient genre, his other involvements, and what the future holds for Beyond The Ghost. Please enjoy the interview with this amazing artist and definitely check out his unbelievable albums, if you’ve not done so already.

1. First, thank you so much for this interview opportunity. Secondly, congratulations on your two successful Cryo Chamber releases, 2019’s ‘You Disappeared’, and 2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’. How did the Beyond The Ghost Project begin?

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my dark ambient project, I really appreciate it. I think the idea of Beyond the Ghost started about 2 years ago. In 2018, I released an album called The Ninth Wave with my other musical project, The Sandman’s Orchestra. It was a cover of the whole B-side to Kate Bush’s classic Hounds of Love album. It was a huge undertaking, I spent an insane amount of time working on textures, atmospheres and sound design for this album. Somehow, after that experience, and after years of songwriting, I wanted to explore a more atmospheric, darker side to my music. I also wanted to start composing more instrumental pieces. I got more and more into dark ambient and started writing tracks in that genre. I ended up with a whole album, You Disappeared. 

2. What kind of project was The Sandman’s Orchestra? Besides this project were you previously involved with projects of other genres?

The Sandman’s Orchestra was an atmospheric folk duo I started with a young singer named Léonie Gabriel. That was my first serious attempt at producing music all by myself in my home-studio. It was a great experience on many levels. I made progress in terms of songwriting, arranging and producing music. It was a great collaboration with Léonie, who is an amazing singer. Before that, my main musical outlet was a band called Vera Clouzot. Between 1993 and 2003 we released a few demos, 4 studio albums (2 sung in English, 2 in French), one live album, and played about 150 shows throughout France, including opening for Jeff Buckley and Smog. We started out as an acoustic three-piece band. I sang and played guitar, Nicolas Fahy played the cello and Richard Huyghe was the main guitar player. Later on, two friends joined us on drums and bass guitar and our sound evolved into a mix of atmospheric ballads and experimental rock music sung in French. Being part of a band for 10 years was an amazing experience ; that’s a big chunk of life. I also released two solo albums of acoustic folk as Kenyon ; the second one, « Catch a Star » was released in 2005 by a Parisian micro-label, Hinah.

Beyond The Ghost – Taken on the beach in Dunkirk, Northern France

3. How did you come up with the name, Beyond The Ghost?

I’ve always loved the word « ghost », the way it sounds, its implications. I brainstormed with my girlfriend to find a name that would include the word « ghost », and that’s what we came up with. I like the fact that it’s open to interpretation. One possible meaning is that there are moments in your life when for some reason (bereavement, anxiety, depression) you may feel like some kind of ghost, not quite there, floating your way through life but with the wish to go past that stage, to go beyond the ghost of yourself and try to find your true nature again.

4. You seem to explore an extremely broad range of cinematic sounds on your recordings. Who are some of your influences for this style of Dark Ambient music?

True, I like to explore different sounds and atmospheres and I guess my music is quite cinematic. I’ve been influenced by other dark ambient artists but also by stuff that’s maybe less obvious : Talk Talk circa Spirit of Eden/Laughing Stock, Pink Floyd, David Bowie’s Low album, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Portishead.

5. Cryo Chamber is the premiere label for Cinematic Dark Ambient music. How did your relationship with the label come about?

I’ve been familiar with the label for a couple of years. One of my friends from the early Soundcloud days, Tom Moore of Dead Melodies, was already on the label. The level of quality is pretty high on Cryo Chamber so you can’t just submit demos or a half-baked album. After months of working on my first album, I got to a point where I thought what I had was interesting and at least I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself if I submitted the album to the label. Cryo Chamber was the obvious choice because it’s the best dark ambient label out there. So I contacted Simon (Cryo Chamber’s label manager), sent him my album, which he liked right away, and a couple of days later we were already talking about artwork, stuff like that. Since then, I’ve developed a great working relationship and friendship with Simon. He’s been very supportive of my music and is easy to work with. I had bad experiences with record labels in the past, so today I feel very grateful to be on a label run by an artist, by someone with a vision. 

6. Have you participated in any collaboration projects?

For the past year or so I’ve been collaborating with another artist, we’ll have a whole album finished by the end of the summer. I can’t tell you more at this point. Sorry, my lips are sealed ! This year I’ll also partake in the yearly Lovecraft project, I’m very excited about that. I love the collaborative aspect of Cryo Chamber, you feel like you’re part of a family. We are very supportive of each other, there are no ego conflicts or whatever.

7. The whole world is currently living in some dark times, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic going on. Are you sheltering in place because of this? If so, (or even if not), has this event inspired you to write any new music?

At first I was quite worried and stressed with the pandemic. I wasn’t afraid for myself but for my loved ones, especially my dad, who is considered at risk. It was heartbreaking to see the mortality of it all, often in dreadful circumstances. To die alone must be horrid, for the person and their family. As for the lockdown, personally, I had no problem with it. It was a necessary thing to do in order to save lives, and to be honest I often got annoyed with people complaining about how hard it was to stay confined for 2 months. I mean, if it’s about saving people’s lives, stop whining and do something creative with your time. Of course, I missed seeing my family and my friends, but that was a small price to pay for the greater good. I don’t think I was directly inspired by COVID, but I had a lot more free time than usual, so I worked on a lot of music, at random times of the day and night. I still do, actually. These past few months have been a very creative period for me. Music is a great outlet in stressful times.

Beyond The Ghost – Taken from his home studio while working on ‘Eternal Drift’

8. Have you considered doing any live shows after the COVID-19 Pandemic is all clear? Have you considered doing any live streaming performances?

I don’t think I’ll play live shows or do live streaming performances. Giving a good live performance would require a lot of work and would probably involve other musicians because I don’t see myself playing piano or guitar over a backing track. I’d rather devote my time and energy to creating new music in my home-studio. 

9. I guess the good thing about having a home-studio, is that you can play and record anytime you feel inspired. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea and headed to your home-studio to record?

Yes, very often. I have weird sleeping patterns and I like working on music at night. I do like the freedom of having a home-studio, of being able to record whenever I feel inspired, which can definitely happen in the middle of the night.

Physical release of ‘Eternal Drift’

10. Getting back to the music on your albums, there is a great mixture of sublime textures and controlled chaos. Do you have a strategy for writing your songs or is there a lot of improvisation?

I don’t have a strategy or any set rules. Sometimes I will start by creating a drone and then build a track from that foundation. Sometimes I create a sound or a layer that will inspire other sounds and layers and then I add the melodic part. A track can also start with a piano part, or a guitar sound, or anything really. I like the fact that there are no rules. So it’s mostly about inspiration and improvisation. Then, when I have a basic foundation for a track, things fall into place through trial and error. 

11. One of my favorite Beyond The Ghost tracks is “Frozen In Time”. For some reason, this song reminds me of the soundtrack of the movie, Full Metal Jacket. Is therea particular story behind that track?

With that track I wanted to create something nostalgic and atmospheric with all the muffled radio voices, I wanted something that moved at a slow pace. When I wrote the track I had this image of being stuck in a lonely place, of being still, of feeling numb from the pain of losing someone (which was the central topic of the whole album). I saw Full Metal Jacket many years ago and I don’t remember the soundtrack, but I loved the movie at the time. It’s a good reference so I guess I’ll have to check out the OST now !

2019’s ‘You Disappeared’

12. I believe the song from that OST that I am thinking of is called “Sniper”. Speaking of OST’s, do you have any favorite Dark Ambient-themed OST’s that you listen to often ?

Lately I’ve really enjoyed Hildur Guðnadóttir’s works, mainly her soundtrack to the Chernobyl mini-series, as well as her score for Joker. I’m a big fan of Geoff Barrow, the Portishead/Beak guy, and I like the soundtrack he composed with Ben Salisbury for Annihilation. One last example is Under the Skin’s soundtrack by Mica Levi – I found both the movie and soundtrack quite eerie and unsettling but beautiful at the same time. When I watch TV shows I pay a lot ofattention to music cues and I can definitely hear dark ambient influences in some of the shows I’ve enjoyed, like The Outsider, Bloodline or The Killing, for example.

13. “Becoming One With Darkness” from the ‘Eternal Drift’ album contains some ethereal guitar work on it and it’s probably my favorite track from the new album. Do you think you’ll use more guitar (and piano) parts in future recordings?

Thanks for pointing out that track. This and « The Slow Agony of Solitude » are two personal favorites from the new album. To me, Eternal Drift is definitely a guitar album. It may not be that obvious because I often used the electric guitar in unconventional ways, warping the sound with various techniques and fx to try and create interesting textures. Whatever direction my future projects will take, I know there will always be room for some guitar and piano as well as other organic instruments. Maybe it’s what defines my music and my sound : a mix of organic and synthetic, of warm and cold.

2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’

14. Once again, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions for The Dungeon In Deep Space! Do you have any final thought for your fans that may be reading this?

It’s been my pleasure answering your questions ! I’d like to seize the opportunity to thank all the people who listened to my music, bought my albums, wrote nice messages and comments on social media or wrote me directly. I’ve had some very touching messages from various people and it means the world to me. I think people have sensed that these albums are very personal and real, that there’s a lot of emotions in there. You Disappeared was about losing someone, Eternal Drift is about losing yourself. Both albums were therapeutic for me. If some people have found comfort listening to my music, have felt touched and moved by it, then it was all worth it.

Links:

Eternal Drift: https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-drift

You Disappeared: https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/you-disappeared

FB: https://www.facebook.com/beyondtheghost/

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

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5aoLhB1ALvmo38RwCBNH5W?si=ilOHCWphQROUZpaRhkFlFg

Eyre Transmissions V: Interview With Dungeon Synth Mainstay, Erythrite Throne

If you’re a fan of Dungeon Synth, then you are well aware of the many talented artists that contribute a steady amount of music for our listening pleasure. One artist that I consider a linchpin of the community is none other than Erythrite Throne. Releasing some of the most consistent blackened Dungeon Synth there is, Erythrite Throne continues to challenge the listener in diving into a medieval world of dark imagery, vampires, and lust for malevolence. With a distinctive sound and style that is unmatched by any other artist, Erythrite Throne is constantly progressing and improving with each release. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Erythrite Throne main man, Davey Sasahara, to talk about his Dungeon Synth endeavors, Serpents Sword Records and anything in between.

1. First of all, thanks for taking the time to respond to this interview. I have to ask, where do you find the time to write the massive amounts of music that you do? 

It’s pretty much the only thing I do with my free time haha. It’s something that I enjoy doing a lot so I write music as often as I can, I also have pretty bad ADHD, so this is something that helps me sit down and work on my concentration.

2. How many projects have you released music under?

Right now, I have 16 active projects, but I have a lot of projects I’ve stopped working on completely and there’s not much of a trace of them on the web. All together I’ve released music under maybe 30 or projects of varying musical styles.

3. When you are writing new music, do you go into it with a specific project in mind or do you improvise and let the music guide your path? 

I usually improvise everything and just feel it but there a few times that I sit down with the intention of making music for a specific project.

4. Take us back to before you started releasing Dungeon Synth. We’re you involved with music from other genres? 

I was! I was in a hardcore band as well as doing a few projects by myself. I was making some gothic electronic stuff, some vapourware, some trap. I like to experiment with music a lot. 

5. What influenced you to start writing Dungeon Synth? 

I’ve actually been making this type of music since around 2014, I just had no idea it was called Dungeon Synth, so I was just calling it gothic music haha. Actually, the first Voslaarum album Forgotten Vale is a compilation of stuff I made around 2014-2016, some of it is actually still on YouTube under a different name. 

6. I know this year you were slated to play live at the Northeast Dungeon Siege and due to the COVID-19 outbreak it was modified as an online festival (via Twitch). How was it preparing to play live online? 

It was good, it was my first time streaming so it took me a bit to figure it out, but I had a lot of help from my friends in the community and I think it turned out great. All those people put a lot into making NEDS happen and I appreciate them so much, it was a great time and I was honoured to play! 

7. I highly anticipated seeing your set and thoroughly enjoyed it. Did that inspire you to want to play more live gigs in the future? 

100%! I would like to play many more live shows in the future. 

8. It seems like Erythrite Throne is the “mothership” of all your projects. Is that the case? 

It absolutely is. I played around with a lot of other projects and musical styles before I landed here, it has a very special place in my heart.

9. Some of your earlier Erythrite Throne works contains a good bit of Black Metal (Instrumentation & vocals) whereas the more current material is mostly synth based. Was there a plan to make Erythrite Throne a more metal based project at some point? 

Erythrite Throne was always made to infuse Dungeon Synth and Black Metal, I never want to choose between the two because I love them both so much. Which direction I take an album really just depends on how I’m feeling in that moment.

10. One of my favorite projects of yours is Abholos. Although I can hear traces of Erythrite Throne in Abholos, the sound is more ethereal, and the texture is of a primitive nature. What influenced you to start this project? 

The first Abholos demo was actually supposed to be an Erythrite Throne album based on the work of Lovecraft, but it just felt different from Erythrite Throne, so I created Abholos which still has my kind of sound, but I try to make it it’s own entity.

11. Do you have more Abholos albums planned for this year? 

I absolutely do!

12. Another newer project that I absolutely love is Moss Golem. Initially “mislabeled” a Comfy Synth album, it’s actually like a synth-based black metal project. Did you create this project to defy the sub-genre stereotypes that seem to exist these days? 

I did. It was pretty much a fuck you to what you think something is or has to be called. MOSS GOLEM is a really important project to me..

13. One of your less talked about projects is Vokaron – which I think is an amazing project that leans toward the Crypt Hop genre. How did this project come about and do you plan to continue it? 

I actually made this album for my partner when he was recovering from surgery. He likes to sing so I made him this album to sing with well he was at home getting better with nothing else really to do. I do plan to drop at least one more Vokaron album!

14. Other than the projects that I’ve mentioned, what are some of the other ones that are near and dear to you, and why? 

I can’t really choose one honestly. All of them are important to me in one way or another and I try to put a lot into each one.

15. Tell us a little about Serpents Sword Records? 

I created Serpent’s Sword so I could have one spot for all my projects and tapes under one banner. I figured it was better than having 20 different Bandcamp pages.

16. Other than physical cassette releases, are there any plans to expand the merchandise (t-shirts, patches, stickers, hats, etc.) store for Serpents Swords Records? 

Absolutely. I’ve already had patches done for Erythrite Throne, but I’d love to get shirts and stickers done for that and a few of the other projects on Serpent’s Sword.

17. Have you toyed with the idea of releasing other artists material on Serpents Sword Records?

I have and I actually will be releasing some other artists music in the near future starting with a very special release for a good friend of mine! More info will come soon for that.

18. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, as well all of your contributions to the Dungeon Synth community. Do you have any final thought you’d like to share with anyone reading this? 

I appreciate you taking the time to interview me and listen to my music; it really means a lot to me! I want to thank all the amazing friends I’ve made in the Dungeon Synth community and all the people who listen to and support my music, it really means more to me than I can describe. I’m excited to continue working on music for you all!

Links:

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com

https://erythritethrone.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/serpentssword/

Eyre Transmissions IV: Interview with Visionary Dark Ambient Artist, Ruptured World

My love for the dark ambient genre goes back several decades. Although admittedly I started off as just a casual listener, I soon found a love for the eerie soundscapes & deep, ritualistic drones and the emotional state they put me in. Through the years, there have been many artists that have captivated me with their musical ventures, but one that stands out amongst my favorites is Ruptured World. Seamlessly combining dark ambient, piano sounds, and scripted narrations, Ruptured World emerges as a unique entity in a genre known mainly for its minimalism. Additionally, Ruptured World was one of the artists that inspired me to begin writing this blog and ‘Archeoplanetary’ became my very first review. I recently had an opportunity to interview Alistair Rennie – the artist behind Ruptured World – to find out the methods and inspirations behind his visionary craft.

1. First of all, thanks for the opportunity to conduct this interview. In 2019, you continued with the “Planetary” series and released the extremely impressive ‘Archeoplanetary’. Not only was it one of the first reviews for my site, it was also listed in my Dark Ambient Top 10 albums of last year. What what’s the writing/recording process like for this album? Do you have any plans to continue on with this series?

The process is one that starts off with a few nebulous ideas that begin to assume a more direct focus once the music and narrative elements start to form, and then it just starts to fall together and gather a momentum almost of its own.

Once the ideas begin to crystalize and take shape, I think that’s when I start to organise the music and spoken word narrative in more direct correlation with each other.

I never start with fully formulated ideas or a written narrative for the music to be written to. I find that too much planning in advance takes some of the excitement out of it. It’s a bit like getting spoilers before watching a film. So I try and leave room to allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. In saying that, once the first version of an album is done, I’ll go back over it making significant revisions and changes from start to finish. The idea or vision of the work gets clearer and more refined that way, until you have the completed work.

2. One thing that stands out for Ruptured World is the heavy use of commentary and spoken word. What influenced you to incorporate this into your brand of dark ambient?

It really comes from my activities as a writer. I write genre fiction (science fiction, horror and fantasy) and have a novel published and some short stories out there, mainly with US-based publishers and magazines. So it was very natural for me to create narratives that I could adapt to music through spoken word. Dark Ambient tends to be cinematic in terms of its characteristics, so it seemed a very obvious and quite normal thing to do.

3. Dr. Archibald Macrae is such a dignified and compelling character. What kind of research (if any) went into honing this character and his vast knowledge of archeology?

I have a good knowledge of ancient culture in Scotland, and, especially, the North of Scotland where I grew up. So I was able to feed a lot of that into the story through the character of Macrae. All of the places and some of the artefacts referred to in the album actually exist and serve as a basis for the fictional elements to be built on. These are places that I know intimately, some of them featuring also in my family history. So the knowledge mostly comes from lived experience and absorbing and learning over time rather than research. In saying that, I have studied aspects of the Picts at university, so there’s also some formal research that’s gone into it.

4. So, when you’ve created the albums of the “Planetary” series, do you write the music or narrations first?

I’ll start with the music but the narration starts to form alongside the music quite rapidly. It seems to happen as part of the same eruption of materials, overall, driven by the same impulse, both emerging simultaneously. I think there will be some music that has been created first, perhaps something that emerges from new material I’m working on, or something that rises out of periods of experimentation, that stands out and starts to go in a particular direction. And then the words and music will occur simultaneously. At a later point, I’ll start to do the vocal recordings and work on integrating those into the music using the appropriate sound design techniques.

5. I think I follow you on just about all of the major social media platforms and you seem to do a lot of field recordings. How important is this to your music?

This actually follows on nicely from the previous question. I’m now finding that field recordings have a much greater influence on how the music starts off and takes shape. It’s become one of the crucial elements of the music and is increasingly central to much of what I aim to do. In more recent stuff I’ve produced, I’ve aimed to capture the atmospheric detail of specific locations and to use this as the core sound around which to develop the music. I’ve also started making short video productions in which this music is featured, bringing everything together in one setting of audio-visual representation.

Field Recording Mission in New Aberdour, Scotland

6. Where are some of your favorite places to record sounds?

There are certain locations around the coastline of the Northeast of Scotland where there are all sorts of rock features, including wave cut platforms, sea stacks and sea caves, where I’ve started collecting some fantastic ocean sounds from fascinating acoustic settings. It’s a common subject matter in field recording but for a good reason. We never tire of hearing water and the sounds of the sea. The specific kinds of rock formations will present unique sounds and amplifications. The sea caves are my favourite, though. As you can imagine, the way the sounds of the sea resonate within these enclosed geological spaces is fascinating. And I’ll often create additional sounds and percussive sounds using whatever stones and aquatic vegetation presents itself within the caves.

I also like to go inland towards the mountainous areas, particularly in and around the Cairngorm mountains. The glens and hillsides present all sorts of interesting sounds to capture. There’s a lot of wildlife making some great noise. There are rivers and streams constantly flowing. The plant life makes an abundance of sounds you’d never imagine until you actually start listening through field recording.

It’s also a good idea to take things with you to record in the outdoor spaces. Instruments will always sound incredible when you play them outside. And so will playing a digital synth through a portable amp or speakers.

7. You also seem to have a high regard for the visual aspect to your work. Does this also influence the mood of your music?

I’d say it was the other way round, certainly where video is concerned. It’s more the case that the music influences and often shapes the editorial choices and stylistic tenor of the video-making.

8. Speaking of visual art, you have a keen eye for photography and videography. Do you do this as a hobby, or incorporate it into your business ventures?

With video, it’s more like an extension of the music, really, with a definite aim of making it part of the whole aesthetic. It’s something I’m working on more, now, and something I’ve had some formal training in, which always helps.

That’s not the case with photography, which is more of a supplementary activity, always good for putting online. In saying that, I have a friend (one of a few mysterious accomplices of Ruptured World!) who is a very fine photographer with a great knowledge and approach in what he does. Those really great photos you can see on my Instagram page, for example, are his. He did the photo for the cover of “Frontiers of Disorder” on the Ruptured World Bandcamp page.

The not so good photos, the ones taken on a cell phone and put through a filter, those are ones that I’ve taken. I try to take photographs of some of the places I go to for field recording or video footage trips, just to share for interest and fun. Fans of Dark Ambient are almost always people who have an interest in the natural world. So anything I can capture of any atmospheric or dramatic scenes, I’ll put it online in the hope it’s of interest.

9. Getting back to your music; What is your recording setup like? Do you use mainly VST’s, analog/digital equipment, analog instruments, or a combination of them all.

It’s a combination of different things—digital synths, a lot of sampling of sounds, voices and acoustic instruments, as well as objects. A lot of the piano sounds I’ll use are recorded live on a really nice Roland digital piano I’ve got. It can bring some really good room ambience, and sometimes the noise of the keys, that I really like, giving it a sort of haunted feel. Samples and sounds derived from field recordings, as well as voice samples, are things I use more and more. I have some percussion instruments, too. I’ll have some core sounds or samples that I tend to use regularly, but with lots of room for experimentation and trying out new things.

10. Other than your Ruptured World project, do you have any other main musical ventures?

Just Ruptured World! I did dabble with some horrorsynth stuff a while back, and it’s a type of music I enjoy. But it’s not where my interests lie, really.

11. I know that you recently contributed to the ‘Hastur’ Cryo Chamber collaboration album – which was phenomenal by the way. Have you been featured on any other collaboration projects?

Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t yet featured on any other collaborations, but there may be a couple of things in the pipeline to look out for!

12. Do you have any recording plans for 2020?

Yes, I’ve actually got another “Planetary” album currently under production, so look out for that one. And I’m also working on music for video productions like the ones I’ve already produced and put on YouTube, with an aim to putting together an album at some time in the future. And there’s one or two top secret collaborations that may soon be underway. So a few things going on.

13. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought for anyone that may be reading this?

My pleasure. Thank you! I would just encourage people to keep listening, keep supporting the artists, and keep searching the skies for the gods of Dark Ambient, who must surely be out there, watching over us as we speak.

Links:

https://rupturedworld.bandcamp.com

http://alistairrennie.com

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

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

Eyre Transmissions III: Interview With Ambient/Winter Synth Artist, Winterblood

Every once in a while, an artist comes along and consistently produces albums that immediately grab your attention from the very first note and captivates you until they fade off into the cold silence. For me, Winterblood is one of those artists and from the very first time I heard the album ‘Waldeinsamkeit I-III’, I knew I was listening to something special. After getting my hands on the back catalog and quickly downloading anything that comes out new, it’s apparent that Winterblood is an extraordinary addition to the winter synth/ambient community. I recently had the opportunity for a Q&A session to find out what drives such a momentous force behind the atmosphere. Enjoy!

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Can you tell me how Winterblood came about?

Hello there! To talk about Winterblood, means to looking back at my childhood first of all. I remember a film called Antarctica, where the haunting melodies played by Vangelis left an indelebile sign on me; I was so attracted by that landscapes, dogs, and all that atmosphere. All so hostile and dramatic, but at the same time so comfortable. As the years passing by, searching for that power and feelings, I discovered the distorted guitar, and soon I was involved in metal music. In 1997 I started recording with some pc softwares, under the influence of very great act in Cold Meat Ind. and Burzum ambient style, and I find out that only the synth can bring that ‘not human’ character that I was looking for. Winterblood is something within me since the beginning and recognized through sounds and images.

2. You have a pretty lengthy discography! What are some of the challenges that you face while consistently writing such impressive material?

I put no limits in what I’m doing. Most of the albums are similar? May the other dimension brings me in the same direction! I’m just a kind of medium doing atmospheres, not ‘songs’. I’m still discovering my inner voices.

3. Sometimes I wonder if Winterblood is a dark ambient project or a dungeon synth project, or maybe a mix of both. What genre would you classify it as?

If I had to choose a term, it would be Polar ambient; ‘dungeon synth’ is more fantasy oriented, and my project is focused on spiritual affairs through coldness and blackness.

4. Music wise, many Winterblood albums have a trance-like quality to them, enabling the listener to drift off in a meditative state. Is it your intention to provide this type of introspective state?

All is about intuition. Every note, every drone you hear, is recorded following inner voices (I repeat myself), voices that make me dream, make me sleep, make me relax, and bring my imagination in a no-limit zone, where all is infinite and beautiful at the same time. In Winterblood, all comes from the darkness, and look how all is bright! Purification through listening, through making music. If it works with me, may it can works with others, and is real cool to have positive feedbacks. To quote my page site: ‘… the really ambitious goal is to put the listener – after a reassuring prelude – into a cold state of loss and confusion; this may causes an awakening…’. Intentional? Of course.

5. When you set out to record a Winterblood album, do you have a plan in place for a particular sound or style or do you improvise based on your feelings at the time?

I spend hours doing tests, sounds, and right fx. The visions leads all, as intuition as well. Music flows naturally cold, ripetitive, obsessive, but at the same time melodic, hypnotic… It’s not about technic, but magic and sensibility.

6. Do you play and record with physical equipment, VST’s or a mix of both?

In the past I usually worked with softwares and plug ins, with the time all is went in the analogue direction. With this equipment I can give originality to my works, something unique.

7. Do you draw inspiration from any particular bands or other genres of music? If so, what/who are they?

As said before, the Cold Meat ind. scene has a great impact on Winterblood. Act like Aghast, first Ordo Equilibrio, Mz412, Sephiroth, Raison d’Être… But also Eliane Radigue, Burzum ambient-era, Apoptose…

8. One of my favorite Winterblood albums is ‘Waldeinsamkeit I-III’. Is there a distinct theme for that album that makes it so special?

Waldeinsamkeit is an album the literally ‘break the borders’. Why? Still don’t know. All is strange behind this album, from the beginning to the end. What make it so special? The total alchemy between artwork and music. It is so nocturnal, mysterious, magic, really describes as well the title itself. Thanx goes again to Canto Críptico label for the first tape press and artwork, and Kunsthall prod. for the massive Lp release that is unbelievable.

9. You recently released ‘Hiraeth’ which was an impressive 3 hour plus long recording. What inspired you to write such a mammoth of an album?

The purpose is to inaugurate a series of releases focused on meditation, Hiraeth as first. I was looking for something very extreme, something that can makes you dream up, sleep, and floating without an end, something eternal. Of course length is fundamental in this. Hiraeth, as other Winterblood opus, is inspired by my obsession for the grey color, dark woods, old vintage illustrations, and the melancholy for something lost, that is nothing but the lost the original perfection.

10. Can you tell me a little more about your side project called Macchine Per Comunicazioni Spiritiche?

MPCS is just a container for bizarre experiments. Let’s see…

11. Are you involved with any other projects (that you care to discuss)?

Absolutely not. Winterblood is my only project.

12. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final words or thoughts for the Winterblood fans that will be reading this?

First of all thank you for let me open a window to my music, and thanx to all the supporters around the world! A lot is on the making…

Links:

https://winterblood78.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/WinterbloodOfficial

Eyre Transmissions II: Interview With Legendary Dark Ambient Artist Xerxes The Dark

If you look at the overall evolution of music, dark ambient is still in the early (but formidable) years of development. Achieving initial attention in the early 1970’s and gaining strength in the 1980’s with consistent artists such as Zoviet France and Lustmord, dark ambient is as strong as ever with a surfeit amount of artists on the scene, delivering some of the most dreadful, yet memorable droning soundscapes yet. One of the artists that have maintained that gloomy integrity is Iranian-based stronghold, Xerxes The Dark. Considered one of the constant heavyweights in the dark ambient community, XTD not only releases persistent albums, but has also collaborated with other top dark ambient artists to deliver some of the most compelling albums in the genre. For example, XTD and Ugasanie collaborated on the 2018 release, ‘Abysmal’, an album that I feel is one of the greatest dark ambient albums ever released. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the man behind XTD, Morego Dimmer, to get his perspective on all things XTD, his influences, gear, as well as his experimental, downtempo project called, Morego. 

1.  First of all, thank you for the interview opportunity. Can you tell me about the beginnings of Xerxes The Dark and how this became a Dark Ambient project?

At the beginning, the project name was simply Xerxes (2005-2009) then I changed it to Xerxes The Dark to not be confused with other bands/projects. Beside of this, Xerxes The Dark’s main musical Genre is Ambient Music. In different periods I was experiencing different things in my life which affected my musical style as well. Generally Dark Ambient is my Favor reference, Cause I love and use it in my own way, through different years I added different spices to my music, like noise, drones, recorded SFX, field recordings, etc. Being independent and experimental musician helped me to go through the space- time freely, so I didn’t forced myself to stick on certain things. This caused me to release stuffs in different styles from space ambient to ritual drone, from experimental electronic to industrial dark ambient. Dark Ambient is a fertile field for me in which I do what I really love to do and harvest what I want.

2.  Xerxes The Dark is such a majestic name, how did you come up that? 

As the matter of fact, (many of) Iranian people are living with their historical heroes, ancient myths and their old world. So it’s not weird why I choose my music project from Achaemenid Empire. King Xerxes was one of my Favorite kings in the History, I’ve read one of his tabulas in my childhood and I think it’s deeply penetrate into my mind, so at the time of naming, I’ve picked Xerxes.

3.  Earlier this year, you remastered and re-released your first studio album ‘Dim’. How did the decision come about to re-release this stellar album? 


When I was producing DIM, my home studio was running on very low budget as I was a high school student and have not enough money to spend on my musical career, but I really wanted to release my music. So I released DIM as a near demo album back in November 2006, firstly limited edition 13 CDRs, and later I released it via Amduscias Records and Smell The Stench. At the time I knew that the production is not much perfect, but it was a bottom heart work, so technical aspects were not very important to me at the time. Years later, as my studio became more pro, I was listening to DIM, I just thought that why I don’t polish those old works? And I started to work on them, beside DIM, I remastered other early work stuffs as well and some of them released and some of them will release in future.

4.  Is there a story behind the song titles all starting with DIM? 

Just a concept, I think because I was very depressed at those days, and everything around me was dark and grey.

5.  How do you feel your sound/style has changed (or improved) over the years?

Music is an interactive and living thing. My music is easily affected by my mood, my mental state and environment. Throughout the past years I experienced things in my life which some of them were really weird, one of these was my father’s health issues which began in 2009 and ends in 2012 (when he passed away). In this period I was fighting with depression and other things and Cause I really love my father, I was suffering from his health issue. Throughout these years I just use music to medicine myself and calming down my soul, no serious stuff released in this period, (just a single for XTD “Utter Darkness” released on 2009/ starting MOREGO project and releasing a demo album/participating on a metal band which disbanded on 2010). Months After my Father’s Funeral, I decided to release my 2009-2011 recorded stuff as “Capricornus Exotica” album that is a real weirdo! Beside of life events (like studying ‫/ graduating from engineering college, working, achieving MSc in engineering, and some other academic things/ and recent health issues); the Studio, Instruments, Hardware and Software, gears, etc. are very important parameters that affected my music career. Also I’m always a learner, so educating myself theoretically and technically helped to improve my career over time.

6.  Last year, you released a collaboration album with Ugasanie called ‘Abysmal’, which is one of my all-time favorite Dark Ambient releases. How did that recording come about? 

I liked Ugasanie project when I listened it for the first time, so I added Ugasanie to my collaborating list and when the time has been came, I messaged him and asked for collaboration, he accepted and we started to find a proper concept, after a while he proposed to work on Mariana Trench as the concept, and I liked the idea! So we made Abysmal together. Simon Heath perfectly mastered the Album, Then Keosz did the stunning artwork, and finally Abysmal released on Cryo Chamber, this package deserves to be an all-time fav dark ambient release, huh?

7.  You’ve also released collaborations with Alphaxone and DeepDark, so are collaboration albums just as enjoyable as releasing your own solo material?

Actually my first collaboration with Greek artist “Ego Death” album was released in 2008 titled “At Night”. Another split release was “Tomb Of Seers” beside Council Of Nine, Alphaxone and Wolves And Horses (Cryo Chamber). Also I did collaborated with my other musical projects as well.
Yes, collaboration in any form like split albums, collab albums and even working on a Single Track with other artist(s) is always enjoyable, cause you learn from each other, you exchange knowledge, you became friend with someone at least understand your taste of music, you become familiar with other artist’s visions and sights, exchanging ideas are cool.

8.  I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been heavily promoting your new project Morego. This project is much different from Xerxes The Dark so can you tell us what influenced you to write/record music under Morego? 

You know it’s popular for producers to work under multiple projects. The main reason is to experience different genres, and different styles. I always loved to work on a serious rhythmic ambient project. Morego at its first demo album “Seasons of the Wrong Mind (2013)” was a blend of minimal and nostalgic neo-classical pieces and electro-rock / ambient opuses. When I back to the project on 2017, when I upgraded my studio, I decided to work seriously on this project, because it tells the stories that my other projects can’t. Morego is talking about my personal interests, personal life, while XTD talks about Universe, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Mankind and other general concerns. Morego’s main sources of inspiration are solitude, loneliness and the life’s journey. In forthcoming album named “Astrophile”, I wrote music for my long-term love “SPACE” with Sci-fi taste. It’s about a man who loved space and finally he became an astronaut, in a mission to a planet he encounters some strange things…

9.  Do you use the same equipment for recording the Morego and Xerxes The Dark projects? 

Most of them are different, for example XTD uses a huge amount of field recordings, but Morego don’t. I use different techniques for sound designing. XTD needs Atmospheric pads with dark moods, spooky SFXs etc., while Morego needs glitchy SFXs, Beats and Noisy Rhythms, the same things I use for my project are maybe the PC, DAW, Monitor Speakers and Audio Interface. I use Different Synths for making soundscapes/ pads/ drones for XTD and making beats, FXs, ARPs for Morego. And to be honest, sometimes I use a certain Synth to make different sounds for projects.

10.  Do you often play live as Xerxes The Dark or Morego? Do you plan live tours for your projects? 

Generally not performed much live shows, I prefer to perform live in official festivals. I played in two countries so far, Iran & Armenia, though i was invited for some Fests in Russia, Italy and Germany through the past decade. Most of the times i played as Xerxes The Dark. Nothing planned for live tours yet, cause our current economic situation is preventing me to planning for independent tours/ live shows.

11.  Do you have other projects names that you record under as well?

Yes, Nyctalllz is my other project, which started in 2007, released four solo albums, and two split albums. Nyctalllz is a Noise project experiencing experimental electronic and electro-acoustic music.

12.  What can we expect from Xerxes The Dark in 2020? 

The plan is not much clear yet. Maybe some live shows, and working on new materials for some interdisciplinary projects.

13.  Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions! Do you have any final thoughts for your fans that may be reading this interview?


Thank you indeed for making this interview, my fans and fellas are great, I always appreciate their supports and their energies. 

“Best Regards”

Morego Dimmer (aka Xerxes The Dark, Nyctalllz, Morego)

Links:

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/xerxes.the.dark

https://xerxesdark.tumblr.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/Xerxesthedark

https://vk.com/xerxesthedark

https://www.linkedin.com/in/Morego/

Eyre Transmissions I: Interview with Eldest Gate Records recording artist, Wayfarer

It’s been quite the year for Eldest Gate Records. They’ve released multiple, exemplary albums by Wayfarer & Inoriand and have launched their publishing company, Eldest Gate Books. Earlier this month, they swiftly commenced book sales by releasing ‘Three Eerie Tales Of Vampires’, the first volume of the Bibliotheca Obscuris series. Here at The Dungeon In Deep Space, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing recent albums by Wayfarer and Inoriand and both are absolute forerunners in the Dungeon Synth genre! With the brand new release of ‘Misty Morning’ by Wayfarer, I’ve had the honor of communicating with the man behind the project to catch insight of the driving force behind this and his many other projects, including the brilliant startup of Eldest Gate Books.

1. First of all, thank you very much for the interview opportunity and for also being the first interview session on The Dungeon In Deep Space site. Wayfarer has been quite busy this year with releasing three brilliant recordings on Eldest Gates Records. What influences you to record such beguiling material?

First, I thank you, for the opportunity! I think it can be said, that I am a newcomer to the DS revival scene, but that doesn’t mean that I have only recently discovered the genre. Back in the early 2000s my friend and I were big fans of such music as Mortiis or his numerous side-projects, the prison albums of ‪Varg Vikernes or his mystical synth tracks on ‪Burzum albums, such as Rundgang Um Die Tranzendentale Säule Der Singularität or Tomhet. We have recorded our own materials in this style and shared it with each other and was very proud of them! But never knew anybody else, who were into this kind of music. We didn’t even have a name for the genre, so we called it “you-know-that-burzumish-dark-ambient-stuff”. And then one day, years later, I happened to find a blog on the Internet, found the name Dungeon Synth and then the Facebook group and suddenly I saw that we are not alone with our love for this kind of music! Here I found many great artists who influenced me, but the one I remember the most from the beginning was Ancient Boreal Forest. Also, I was a big-time RPG enthusiast all my life, mostly a DM as I’m kind of a creator type. And reading, of course, many-many books since I learned how to read! Fantasy, horror, classics, etc. Those things together, mixed with my passion for experimenting become what is Wayfarer today (or my many side-projects).

2. In my recent review of the ‘Ata Amutar’ release, I’ve described the overall texture of your music as “icy cold Dungeon Synth”. Do you feel that is a fair assessment? Also, did you intentionally set out for Wayfarer to become this dark entity in the Dungeon Synth community?

Yes, I think that’s a good description. I tend to see the beauty in darker things. Being dark, melancholic, occasionally atonal or dissonant makes a good way for me to get those listeners more involved, who are interested in this kind of experience. Also, I think the less receptacle the music for the first listening, the more it makes the listener think about it. Dungeon Synth is a great genre because every artist can find themselves in it some ways. Some artists are looking for that medieval feeling, some of them are more fantasy oriented. For me, it’s all about the atmosphere, world-building and to bring the listener into this world and let them make up their own stories in it while they listen to the music.

3. Typically, DS songs are short and to the point, whereas Wayfarer songs tend to be long. For me, this is an advantage for the listener as it challenges the imagination for what story each track may entail. Do you have a particular mindset prior to recording Wayfarer songs or are they improvised?

Most of the time both. Sometimes I start with something improvised and build the track from there, other times it’s the other way around. Improvisation is fun and lets you set your mind free. I also love long tracks that take the listener on a journey and I make music that I would like to listen to. I consider Wayfarer tracks as a kind of landscape painting with sounds. I don’t want to tell a story with them, that’s up to the listener’s imagination.

4. ‘Misty Morning’ is such a calming album title but the music is bleak and dark. What is your own story behind this recording? 

I wouldn’t consider it dark, maybe a bit melancholic. Being alone and focusing your thoughts inwards to your self is what I think this album is about. But for someone else, I think it can be a dark tone. I like to believe that it’s not the music that creates the emotions it’s just the medium that brings them to the surface. If that’s true, then something dark and unnerving for someone in a certain moment can be calming or meditative for someone else or even the same person when in another mindset.

5. What can you tell me about your recording studio and the equipment that you use?

I may be unpopular with this, but I have to admit that I use VSTs nearly all of the time. It’s a budget issue on one hand, but VSTs also make me able to experiment with nearly any kind of sounds or tones.

6. For your VST’s, do you have any favorite plugins that you use on a regular basis?

I try out many VSTs and always looking for something new and interesting, but there are a few that I use in nearly all of my projects. One of them is SQ8L, which is modeled after Ensoniq’s ‪SQ80 and it is a wonderful plugin to use! It’s the basis of the characteristic sound of Inoriand, but I use it on nearly all of my albums. The other one I’d like to mention is Dexed, modeled on the Yamaha DX7. It is a real monster! I use it all the time, especially for Wayfarer.

7. Do you also do any field recordings for your albums?

Sometimes I use field recordings, but no, I do not record them myself, I use royalty-free resources from the web.

8. I’d like to shift topics and talk about some of the other projects you are involved in, specifically Eallnulf and Abyssu. These projects are very experimental, yet very relevant to the DS scene, how hard/easy is it to maintain the balance between Wayfarer and your projects that have harsher tones?

It’s easier than you think! As I said, I love experimenting and sometimes these materials are such different from the tone of my main projects that I just start up a new one. I love to keep my stuff somewhat coherent.

9. Do you plan to release any more albums under those pseudonyms?

Maybe. They are not finished officially.

10. Do you have any other projects that you record under?

Yes, some of them are well-kept secrets, while others are known in the community, like Inoriand, La Morte Amoureuse or Zungarak.

11. I suspected that you were behind the Inoriand project just wasn’t quite sure. I also reviewed ‘Silence’ earlier for my site and must say – for me – it’s my DS album of the year. Since you do a lot of improvisations, at what point do you realize, this is a Wayfarer project or an Inoriand project (or some other)?

Wow, thanks! Usually when I start composing I already have an idea in my mind and that already connects the music to one of my projects. Improvisation doesn’t mean being completely random, but letting your creativity wander freely within a certain set of boundaries. Be it a theme, a scale, an emotion, a leitmotif etc., these rules separate improvisation from pure chaos! But I have to admit sometimes things go out of hands or take unexpected turns. That’s the point, where new projects are born.

12. Recently, Eldest Gate Records has ventured into the realm of book publishing and has established Eldest Gate Books. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to add books to the Eldest Gate media market?

As I wrote in the foreword to the book and also mentioned it earlier, we are avid fans of reading. Publishing a book ourselves is a long-time dream come true. We started working on it at the beginning of this year and took a lot of time to get everything together, as we aren’t experienced in the field and had to learn many things, because – as with everything else Eldest Gate produces – we wanted to do ourselves everything we are capable of. Learning about publishing, typesetting, cover design, printing services, copyright law etc. was a long journey, but a real fun all the way!

13. I already love the direction of Victorian Era vampire tales for the first book offering. Do you already have an idea of future releases?

We have a whole series planned out; the Bibliotheca Obscuris and we are already working on the next volume. I hope that people will love these books. We wanted something that isn’t only enjoyable to read, but also a joy to take into your hands or show-off to others, something that is collectable and looks really great when put on the bookshelf. In the future there may be other series, maybe a fantasy-themed, we will see!

14. Will Eldest Gate books be open to providing publishing opportunities for up-and-coming authors in this genre?

I hope so, in the future! We achieved to learn a lot in the past few months about publishing, but there’s still more we need to get through. But there are many creative and talented members of this community and if somebody reaches out to us to publish his or her novel or to help with self-publishing, we would be more than happy to help.

15. Is the idea to stick with physical books or is there a possibility of providing e-books for the Eldest Gate book catalogue in the future?

E-books are cool, but we wanted a real, physical book, that you can hold in your hand. For this series, we aren’t planning e-books, mainly because these stories are in the public domain and already available on the Internet. But if we happen to publish an original work someday, there will definitely be an e-book edition!

16. I really appreciate your time for this interview opportunity; do you have any final words for your fans in the DS community?

The only thing I can think of is “Thank you, all!”. This community is incredible.

Links:

https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com

https://www.eldestgatebooks.com

https://www.facebook.com/eldestgaterecords/

Bonus Content:

The Wayfarer wants you to enjoy his latest release, ‘Misty Morning’ so please redeem one of these download codes @ https://eldestgaterecords.bandcamp.com/yum

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