Imagine being a noble king, in charge of a great kingdom where everyone prospers and respects your loyalty and commitment to the common people. Well, almost everyone. A small group of rebellious outcasts decided to thwart the king of his throne and forced him into complete exile. After a very ceremonious – but fabricated – funeral, the kingdom fell under new rule. However, a loyalist of the king realized the betrayal and set out to find the exiled king to help him exact vengeance and regain the kingdom that was wrongfully taken from him. Welcome to the world of Count Shirintsu and prepare to be bedazzled on the debut album, ‘Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu’, that tells the tale of his courageous, yet vengeful homecoming. To provide multiple musical perspectives of this wondrous adventure, a Dark Mix was released in June and then a Light Mix was released in August. I will examine both of these releases and prepare a viewpoint on how they relate to Count Shirintsu’s monumental homecoming.
The first of the two mix albums that were released was the Dark Mix, and the album opener, “Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu” starts with a ceremonious ambient tone with howling winds in the background. As additional keys crescendo in the mix, oriental style patterns are revealed before a short video game audio sequence is brought into the mix, adding an extra touch of creativity. Samples of samurai-like battle cries can be heard throughout, as Count Shirintsu himself, prepares for battle to reclaim his kingdom. “Fire Of Thinking” starts with a fiery field recording, layered with a haunting keyboard melody that signifies the dawn of battle. As this calm-before-the-storm piece reaches a close, Count Shirintsu is ready and motivated to finally lead his people once again. “Kyoden” is a track named after the loyal friend that learned of the evil wrong doings of Count Shirintsu, tracked him down and helped him on his quest for retribution. Although a short track, it serves as an introduction to this essential character to the story and contains some evening time field recordings with a short keyboard piece blended in. “Akashiga Castle” is a more traditional Dungeon Synth style recording with some excellent, stand-out arrangements embedded in the middle. I imagine it’s night time and Count Shirintsu and Kyoden have now entered the kingdom and have plans to overtake the castle and the cruel occupants that inhabit it. “Exile” begins with a grim ambient tone and is soon followed by an eerie keyboard provision, where the tone fades in and out with the pre-adjusted volume. Count Shirintsu is now recollecting the past where he was wrongfully exiled and it provides much motivation to continue his mission of restoring newfound peace throughout the kingdom, one again being under his rule. The final track on the album, “Restoration” can be summed up as the soundtrack for the impending battle to oust the wrongdoers of the kingdom. A simple drum track provides a smooth pace for this picturesque traditional Dungeon Synth track as Count Shirintsu once again takes the throne of his kingdom. The final few minutes of the track provide a beautiful ambient soundscape that resembles peace throughout the commonwealth.
For the Light Mix of the album, we have the same great story and the same excellent songs but some of the keyboard parts throughout the album have been brought to the light (sort of speak), by enriching the sound and providing an extra layer of energy to enhance the sound quality. This is most noticeable on songs such as “Fire Of Thinking”, “Kyoden” and “Akashiga Castle”. That’s not to say that every track hasn’t benefitted from the updated sound edit, but these are the most distinct as far as the value of production is concerned.
‘Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu’ (both mixes) is a grandiose album full of audio surprises that range from tradition and modern dungeon synth to ambient soundscapes, enriched with a plethora of sounds – including 8-bit video game jingles. This album also has a wonderful storyline that I hope will continue on proceeding albums. Show your support for Count Shirintsu and download one of these (or both) amazing albums at the link below.
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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.
Dungeon Synth has once again escaped the clutches of medieval times and have thwarted to a more modern era, where non-traditional themes become the predominate factor for setting the tone of the music. Solus Woods have succeeded in conceptualizing two extended play albums that tell haunting stories of a sailor lost at sea and of the obscure entities that prowl deep in the forest, while musically pushing the boundaries of post-Dungeon Synth. Whereas traditional Dungeon Synth is heavily influenced by Medieval Times, fantasy-based beings, and Dungeons & Dragons type role-based games, post-Dungeon Synth maintains the aesthetics of the music, but the themes can revolve around a myriad of events that are not that far fetched from our current every day lives.
The first of these two albums, ‘The Sea’ tells the tale of a sailor lost at sea and his self-reflection on life as his fate draws near. The opening track, “The Sea”, sets a minimalistic and eerie tone, as we can only expect that our protagonist awaits his trails at sea. “Celestial Star Map” is an eccentric number that can be easily used as a haunting backdrop in a movie soundtrack. Instead, it has a creepy reverse effect as the sailor is probably adrift at sea due to misguided navigation and he soon realizes that he may be in trouble. “The Calm Before…” doesn’t necessarily refer to the current of the sea, but the state of mind of the sailor as the imminent danger he will soon be in has him in a state of shock. The music in this track combines both a smooth, acoustic passage, with a harsh undertone, rendering a perfect environment for what is about to take place. “…The Storm” is a short track that represents the initial destruction of the devastation that will put the sailor in the predicament that he is slated to be in. Dark, bellowing tones that present a bleak and abrupt ending couldn’t have been played out any better. “Below The Surface” is a chilling track with bloodcurdling soundscapes that finally find the sailor in that moment where he is scared for his life and with nowhere to run and hide. At the climax of the story, “The Kraken” comes face-to-face with the sailor and reeks havoc on his beloved vessel. The music weaves in and out like a radiant light, but provides a depressive backdrop for this gruesome and lonely story. “Taking On Water. The Sinking Ship” contains sparse instrumentation and lush soundscapes that unfortunately, find our sailor defeated, stranded at sea and barely hanging on for dear life. “Adrift, Alone” uses horrifying sounds and frightening synthesized tones to describe the sailor as he is hanging on to a piece of driftwood, barely above the surface of the water. His life flashes before his eyes as he contemplates his demise. “The Shore” uses long, drawn out notes, to resemble the great distance that the sailor must travel in order to finally find safety. As darkness bridges to daybreak, there is no shore in site and the sailor must continue to travel, and survive another day. “The Sea (Reprise)” ends just as the story begins, with uncertainty. Although the melody is the same as the opening track, the dynamics of music has changed to represent another day. Although this is a short album, it tells a massive tale that leaves a huge opening to the imagination. Only with the backing of post-Dungeon Synth does this creative combination work out so well. ‘The Sea’ is a culmination of creative art and imaginative story telling at its best.
The second album in this review is ‘Ritualistic Swamp Magick’, a near thirteen minute revelation into the trepidation of isolated cults & religions and terrifying beasts that skulk deep in the woods. Sounding as if it could have been lifted from an 80’s horror movie soundtrack, “Rustic Swamp Magick” contains a ghostly backdrop, with memorable soundscapes that are distinctively eerie and discordant. I can imagine being deep in the woods and coming across a small church, where everyone is dressed the same and worshipping a deity that cannot be found in any book. As you stumble in the church by accident, everyone turns to look at you as if you’re the next offering – a sacrifice – to their supreme idol. As you rush out and escape in an unorthodox pattern through the forest, you get the sense you’re being hunted by a pack of unexplainable creatures. Although containing just a singular track, ‘Ritualistic Swamp Magick’ is another valiant effort by Solus Woods.
Despite being fairly new to the Dungeon Synth genre, Solus Woods is already excelling as a formidable artist, especially in the post-Dungeon Synth sub-genre. From the mature tone of the music to the gritty production, Solus Woods is already ahead of the game in several aspects. If this pace can be maintained, I’m sure many more surprises will be released in the very near future. Show your support for this excellent up and coming artist and click on the link below to check out his material. You won’t be disappointed.
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Usually when listening to a good Dungeon Synth album, we can imagine being taken back to a distant, medieval time when knights battled for the glory of the king, the forest was an enchanted place of mystical beings, and the inhuman population crowded the dungeons below. However, with the recent release of ‘Leere’ by Immateriæ, Dungeon Synth has safely weathered the elements of deep space and produced a four track – nearly thirty minutes – of cosmic synth that epitomizes the reason why I named this blog, The Dungeon In Deep Space in the first place.
Album opener, “Through Dark Matter And Misty Thoughts” starts off slow and then the DS style synthesizers materialize, adding multiple layers and provide a wonderful melody to this otherwise, gloomy track. For a track that seemingly has a lot going on, it’s also very minimalistic – an approach that works rather well. The second song is the eight and a half minute long “Awakening Of The Psyché.” This track showcases a great mix of reverb synths mixed with space ambient tones. The overall vibe of this song will leave the listener with a sense of loneliness and isolation, but also with a vision of clear direction and accomplishment. “Reaching Beyond The Old Sites” fades in with the same music as the outro of the previous song and continues the journey through the cosmos as our protagonist ventures past distances not previously known by man. This ten minute long track replenishes the mind in a more positive direction even though there is no end in sight for this endless voyage. The final track, “Distant Stars In Elder Memory” is a short track that is full of layered synths to signify a possible ending of some sort in this epic adventure.
Although this is a relatively short album, these four tracks are extremely well put together and the ambiance of the production is amazing. I’m really hoping that Immateriæ is going to provide a follow up release soon in the same vein as ‘Leere’ because it’s something new, fresh, and exactly what the Dungeon Synth Community needs right now. Please support this artist and click on the link below to download this amazing album!
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When I look back over the dungeon synth albums that have been released this year, it is truly impressive on how the genre has grown and the ways the music has branched out into many sub-genre’s. On Woodland Crypt’s latest EP, ‘Gateway To A Forest Forgotten’, the music takes us on a gloomy, deep forest adventures that has a cold, winter synth vibe to it, while maintaining elements of fantasy synth. This is quite an impressive feat for an artist that only has a few releases so far. The six tracks contained on this album are uniquely impressive and push the boundaries of traditional dungeon synth, almost crossing into the realm of post-dungeon synth.
“Sacred Glen” is an excellent choice as the lead off track as it exposes a particular calmness while traversing the gateway to the forest. “The Barbarian (Gûndabar’s Theme)” blasts right into a fantasy keyboard part that shows signs of aggression and commitment for the journey through the forest. The journey begins to slow as “Mausoleum Of Moss” provides a bleak atmosphere with some slight field recordings to give just enough atmospherics to set a gloomy precedence for the next track. “The Green Man” is an eerie song filled with lush keyboard tones and the occasional high-pitched accent that leans more toward traditional dungeon synth music. “Yule Festival” is a hymn filled with melancholy and crackling fire field recordings and contribute to the overwhelming sense of togetherness once reaching the final destination in the forgotten forest. “Return To The Mountains” closes out this astonishing album with an epic display of minimalistic synths and ambient droning.
Woodland Crypt has succeeded in constructing a meticulous album full of forest hymns that fit right in the ever-so-growing dungeon synth community. When a listener can don a pair of headphone, kickback, press play and let the music take them on a soulful journey, then the artist has reached a remarkable status. Although Woodland Crypt has only released two albums so far, they show signs of limitless potential and I’m looking forward to many more releases by this great talent. Join in on the journey and download ‘Gateway To A Forest Forgotten’ today!
When it comes to music, specifically extreme forms, the term “post” is sometimes misunderstood and in some cases, way over used. However, when we look at the basic definition of a music genre that has the term “post” attached to the front, it really means that the music it rooted in that genre, but then branches out to explore other realms that may be rooted in other genres, or not at all. So my first thought when I heard Inoriand’s latest outing simply titled, ‘Silence’, was that if there ever was a time to coin the sub-genre Post-Dungeon Synth, this is the album that would start the clock.
‘Silence’ is definitely rooted in dungeon synth as the standard sounding keyboards are ever present. However, they are used in a very bleak and non-conventional way that presents an icy cold presentation of dungeon synth in a twisted approach with an almost dark ambient feel to each song. The nine tracks are simply titled, “Silence I – IX” and are arranged in a way that they transition smoothly from track to track. Most of the songs are very minimalistic with minor arrangements that add to the overall obscure feeling to the album.
When it comes to esoteric dungeon synth, Eldest Gate Records has just the lineup of great artist to maintain that integrity. Inoriand has a handful of great albums but ‘Silence’ takes the cake as their shining moment. I hope they continue to leverage this momentum and produce more albums of this nature. Check this album out and support all of the bands on Eldest Gate Records, as you will not be disappointed!