Serpent’s Sword Records | 4-3-20
I am usually wary of releases that look like this. It is not from anything particular rather I thought this was going to be a black metal record tagged as dungeon synth. This is funny since the rest of Dungeontroll’s music and their respected covers look like Dungeon Synth. This does not. Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight has many surprises and the first one is an album full of haunted melody which stalks around empty castles where one was expecting lo fi vampiric black. Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight also has the distinction of having the lowest number of physical copies at 5 sold exclusively at North East Dungeon Siege, a live DS festival which actually is no longer happening due to the Quarantine. this makes Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight perhaps the most rare physical release of all time. With this sort of lore and mystery built around a release, it is difficult not to get excited and fall for the magic.
Self Released | 8-27-19
This review is going to encompass the three released by The Harbinger from August 27th of 2019 to September 10th of 2019. The three releases which spanned those few weeks make up the entirty of work from The Harbinger. It is strange to highlight such a limited collection of work but the three releases from this artist show such promise and ability, it is difficult not to get excited. Through awkwardly designed album covers and cryptic veils of flowery text, these three releases (The Consecrated Barrow, The Convocation of Forgotten Gods, The Absolution of The Blind God) are masterful in their silent declaration in a world that seems crafted for the artist but has space for the listener to observe.
Self Released | 3-24-20
Sometimes finding small and pleasant things gives me the reason to go searching everyday. Skogsgudinnan is a US based artist who has produced 10 tracks of quiet and humble dungeon synth / new age that is seemingly for anyone who wants to listen. Without fanfare or bluster, this artist has quietly placed something in a garden for anyone to pick up and experience. Though these tracks are sometimes sketches and others incomplete, the world and experience each one constructs is enough to give pause. Add to that the goofy Bandcamp greeting of “Leave reality for a bit, just take it easy! Take Care!” shows an artist who is making music for whimsy and just wants you to have a good time. I do not know about you but I certainly am.
Self Released | 6-6-20
This is probably the weirdest release I have written about and it is wonderful. Back when I was writing about dungeon synth heavily, there was a small niche of creators experimenting with chiptune music and combining it into a CRPG aesthetic. This was music that sounded like the soundtrack to video games that never existed but you could almost envision it in your head. I have not heard much music since that time and Goblin Priest was something that brought me back to the reason why I love this genre in the first place. While chip music has a style and sound, each composition takes on unique life. In the case of Dank Vision Sewer Crawl, the life is a sidescrolling rougelike 8-bit cartridge game. With matching album art and tongue in cheek description on the Bandcamp, this whole production is irreverent and successful in everyway.
Secret Corridor Records | 3-28-20
The IXth Key is a project based in Secret Corridor Records. Secret Corridor is less a label and more of a universe with different projects ostensibly all by the same person who goes by “S”. The IXth Key is one entity along with Spectral Castle, Medieval Secrets, Winter Pathways, Forgotten Passage, Royaume des Brumes, Secret Corridor, and Filicophyta. I could be wrong about some of those, but this is what I am guessing. It also would not be the first time an artist has split their creativity among a menagerie of outlets and considering that each entity possesses a unique yet familiar composition, it is safe to assume that this is all revolving around one person. The IXth Key is perhaps the most magical of alll of the Secret Corridor releases. “Upon My Frozen Land,” is emerging as one of the best releases from The IXth Key out of earlier experimental recordings. Though the release is 20 minutes in the same tonal space, it makes use of the atmosphere in a demo(?) that is accomplished and touching.
Mystic Timbre | 6-23-20
Archana is the second release from Mystic Timbre I have reviewed and comes since the first, Alloch Nathir, was a wonderful journey into forest synth. Before I get into this current release, I want to make special mention to the rest of Mystic Timbre’s catalog as it is a free form menagerie of electronic, progressive, experimental releases all with their own unique outlook on life. Rites, from Archana, is no different as its tone and demeanor differs from Alloch Nathir. Where one was meditative cloaked in mature ambiance, Archana is more ancient with classic stoicism at its roots. Overcast in comber silence, Rites pays tribute to dungeon synths tradition of solitary wanderings through glacial melodies and grey dawns. Both Archana and Alloch Nathir draw lineage from the same post black outfit Abhasa and these releases, much like the history of dungeon synth, are intimate meditations on immersion.
Self Released | 3-25-20
There will come a time when my daily search of dungeon synth will either lead to suboptimal releases or things that came out during the period when I stopped looking at daily releases. There will come a time when things will slow down and I will not be mystified by a wonderful release from a new artist. Today is not that day. The Sleeping Wizard is the fourth release from this Spaniard and is so dynamic with its production, I am sort of taken aback at how immersive these soundscapes can be. From the regal quality of “Path of the Fae Knight” to the mysterious carnival of “Mystic Fungus Potion Fermentation,” The Sleep Wizard is a step beyond bedroom dungeon synth into something much more that I have yet to understand.
Self Released | 6-25-20
The tag of “forest synth” most often times refers to a variety of dungeon synth which is either inspired by the sounds of the forest, has forest ambient on top of the music, or both. Forest synth is also wild in its interpretation where one can have experimental ambient or more structured fantasy synth. Alloch Nathir is in the later camp with a record that is both regal and mystical with ambient bird calls buried deep within its music. The emerald Grotto then turns into a record which is inviting, warm, and kind at hart offering the listener nothing less than a retreat from whatever madness is in the current world. The Emerald Grotto is currently up for tape preorder which ships around summertime. This might be perfect for anyone currently unable to travel far outside as this will be a small mental retreat to a solitary clearing in the woods.
Self Released | 2-7-20
Spellwind was a February release from Us based Fogweaver which was a followup to a self titled debut in 2019. Both releases were greeted with acclaim and praise from the small community of fans most certainly for their somberness and mystical qualities. Spellwind is also the second release inspired and dedicated to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series. Similar to the ERRETH-AKBE release a few month’s back, Spellwind captures the non Tolkien focus and opens up a world guided by seas and islands and allows soft fantasy synth to populate the world. I maybe a little late on this release but I am thankful I did catch it before it flew away.
Dungeon Deep Records | 3-14-20
It is odd and wonderful to see a dungeon synth record, which came out a few weeks ago and still with a massive amount of Bandcamp support. Fen Walker is a Us based dungeon synth artist whose second record continues on the progressive path of the debut Hail! O’ Barrow Lands! . I have already lauded the progressive sound of dungeon synth with Hole Dweller and Fen Walker’s The Totem Wilds Call Thy Name adds to my hypothesis that basement fantasy synth mixed with a 70’s progressive structure is not only agreeable but also something that could define the sound if given the chance. With the grounds for experimentation which does not lapse into artsy experimentation, the wild journeys one travels is completely immersive and something that transports the listener to far away lands.