“Another demo recorded in one take in the woods. Forest ambient bidding farewell to Summer, released on the Autumn Equinox.” When one talks about forest ambient, the usual connotation goes to sound rather than process. If forest ambient is going to be considered a way of making music, it will be wholly interesting and perhaps mystical. Forest Hermit is a US(?) based composer who has taken the dedication to nature one step future in making records as one perhaps solitary rituals to be preformed in remembrance of the seasons. Demo II is a hazy landscape of distant outlines marked only by passing stone structures which welcomes the coming autumn in wooden masks and heavy robes. Its raw nature is befitting its surroundings and the idea of this recording possibly including field noise and forest ambience is inciting even though it probably doesn’t. I am in support of more ritual ambient / field recording / dungeon synth hybrids that are actually made with enough tapes for the people who want them.
Villein’s debut was a surprise back in the halcyon days of June 2020. Not only was this a competent dungeon synth release swathed in lush layers but it was also somewhat overlooked by the larger community. This is funny since there was a 25 edition tape that accompanied the release which was sold out in minutes through Vicious Mockery. Still even with the tape release and the lush sound, I expected Villein to command more attention at least to the level of quality from these releases. This is okay since we still have time for Villein to enchant strangers with music that is intoxicating in its depth and majestic in its sound. Splendor Spoils is the second release in a few short months which if this final record for 2020, then it s a tremendous introduction to an artist that has come out of nowhere. Villeins music, as well as visual presence, is a wonderful gem for anyone who might have missed it and another chapter in a book I never thought I would enjoy reading so much.
I am including the link to the Realm ad Ritual release for this album even though the edition of tapes sold out. Altar of Necropolis was self released in May of this year but has since been picked up by the wonderful Realm and Ritual label. Orcus is a UK based artist who seems to live in two different realms with one being the contemporary and the other traditional. While the sound of Altar of Necropolis is exploratory in its sound with a balanced production, there is an air of somber haze which unites the sound with a release which pays tribute to the traditional dungeon synth of yesterday. Altar of Necropolis, as well as its creator, is both joyous and melancholic with a release that transcends time and emotion.
“Buy Digital Discography $7.25 CAD or more (75% OFF)”. I have mentioned many times when talking to freinds who couldn care less, that Realm of Sleeps visual direction is perhaps one of its strongest selling points. Let us not forget that Realm of Sleep offers amazing lofi fantasy synth which inhabits the space between sleeping and waking but it is the uniform covers which really give the entire catalog an appeal. No longer are these disparate releases rather a cabal of dream artificers and nocturnal alchemists which craft tinctures of pleasantness and quiet nightmares. Wistful Gardens is another entry into the chapter of slumber with a record dedicated to bees which is as playful and odd as the label which has released the record. May they never stop being weird. Please make Tapes.
I feel it is a special time and an album can also make one fall in love with the artwork. Alessia Brusco (Skogens Rymd Art) provided the cover for Mystiska Skogen’s second release Den Förtrollade Gläntan and its mystic dreamscapes of woodlands is so fitting to the musical dreamscapes, it is almost as if the two were meant to be paired. Mystiska Skogen is still finding themselves as the second release has crested a new hill in their musical journey with a release that is not only more realized than their debut but stands before a new valley is traditional dungeon synth that is full of morning haze and pastoral serenity. This is something that has both taken my heart in terms of sound and sight.
This was one of the tapes I picked up from the UK based label Vicious Mockery. Aside from the intimate melancholy of the sparse electric piano, there were a few things which drew me to the tape which include the edition of 25 and the almost handmade quality of the tapes. I feel production in both physical formats and music can be a boon to dungeon synth as well as the lack of those elements can enhance a record. The Eternal Quest is a record that could be someone laying at a piano to no one in particular except for someone just peering into the room. It is charming and “comfy” but with an air of sadness and loss. It drives me to take a place on a couch beside the piano and never interrupt the composer from their somber melodies.
Somewhere between the realm of waking and sleep likes Xard and their dreams of the strange tower. Somewhere between the sound of dungeon synth and the haunting of dark ambient is Xard and their dreams of the strange tower. Xard is an odd entity as it the debut for the composer who goes by the name of the main human antagonist on the 1957 film Night of the Demon.” Dreams of the Strnage Tower is also dedicated to the memory of recently decreased Power Trip member Riley Gale. With a traditional DS sound combined with a hip low brow visual aesthetic, Xard exists in many realms at the same time and Dreams of the Strange Tower is a dungeon synth record that exists on the edge of many different scenes. For all of its transitive properties, the sound of Xard is fitting as it floats in the aether of emissions with its spectral sound and haze of ambiance.
“Plant based Dungeon Synth.” I love these types of descriptions. I love these types of descriptions as selling points rather than invented genres. Actually, who knows, maybe horticulture inspired dungeon synth will be a thing in a few years. Seeds of Change is dedicated to the quiet ambiance of plants growing which is nurtured by the waves of old school dungeon synth but without the oppressive ruminations of dark corridors. There is certainly a level of melancholy which hangs in the air yet the lamentations feel like the decaying of fallen trees as it beings its cycle of rejuvenation. This is a release which sounds as the way loam smells as its pungent qualities fills your senses but ultimately is neither noxious nor sweet.
It is interesting and delightful to run across a dungeon synth project from a prominent metal musician. Ontrothon, Saga of the Ancient Glass is the side project for Spectral Lore, the almost renown Grecian atmospheric black metal project whose last few releases have been met with praise. Spectral Lore is not unfamiliar with the concept of atmosphere though Ontrothon, Saga of the Ancient Glass is a new adventure in the realm of dungeon synth and specifically cRPG style soundtracks. Ontrothon, Saga of the Ancient Glass is a passion project and much like the other extension of Spectral Lore (Mystras), it has been created to explore of focus. This focus is the near nostalgic escapism of hombrewed campaigns and the fantasy soundtracks to old and new RPG games. Ontrothon, Saga of the Ancient Glass sets its scope whide drawing in many elements of many styles and influences into a record that impresses as much as it surprises. The record covers almost every style imagined by previous DS artists in what seems to be an overview of sound and styles. This is interesting and delightful and I am glad Spectral Lore has decided to created a character for all of our campaigns.
Even though the 30 copies of this July release have already been sold out, I feel am stumbling into a gem of a record that has yet to be hared with the amount of people it deserves. Villein is a UK artist who balances traditional dungeon synth with neoclassical new age with something that sounds like a cross between a Renaissance fair and dozing outside in the afternoon. Kries is a brief magical journey through woodlands and fairy villages which intends nothing more than to delight and comfort. Linked above is the artists page which has a NYP fee for the digital record. If you were to get any low price dungeon synth record of the last few months, make it this one. The physical release of this record comes from another UK based label called Vicious Mockery which aside from being a spell in D&D is a dark abient / DS label that does small runs of tapes. Maybe I will be lucky enough to grab the next dungeon synth tape which eludes me like pixies.