“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.
Train Synth. Ha, I joke but seriously. I have been holding the entire comfy synth scene at bay until I had a chance to wrap my head around it but it was Scenic Railway and its embrace of everything lo fi that made me realize this genre is perhaps to nebulous for one genre. In this record one is given a kaleidoscope or dungeon synth, lo fi beats, and sleepy ambient wrapped around a vague idea of getting on a vintage railway and traveling the land. I can not think of the last time I was this confused and excited for an idea but Scenic Railways inclusiveness of genres and all passengers is certainly inviting. Scenic Railway fits the comfy synth genre though I feel comfy synth is more of a mindset as the theme for Scenic Railway is the yesteryear of rail travel and the subsequent falling sleeping in its plush chairs.
“hand-dubbed, low quality small run of 5 tapes. a portion of proceeds will be donated to mutual aid funds. includes a bonus track. only shipping within the united states for now. really sorry about that – if you order from somewhere else, I’ll refund the money.”
Everything about this is charming. Moss Witch most certainly sold out to the 5 people who were lucky enough to get it and perhaps this will be one of the legendary tapes that circulate the DS market. Even in digital form, the debut demo from Moss Witch is a charming lo-fi stroll through blurred gardens that has all of its rough edges on display for people to marvel. From the obvious hand made quality of its physical medium to the sound of the composer hitting stop on the recording, Spells From The Ground and the Dirt is a 7 and a half minute view into a hazy greenhouse tended by a crone or hermit who loves their plants. I humorously enjoy the times when DS has small batch tapes but the charm of Moss Witch transcends any jokes I can make about 5 hand dubbed cassettes since the music is so magical and comforting.
One would think this Maiden Hair release would be something along the lines of traditional dungeon synth what with the cover and the grim looking Bandcamp page. One would not expect wild Yamaha PSS-270 sounds to assail them from vintage treetops. Maiden Hair for all its subterfuge is a near irreverent composer more along the lines of countryside prankster who dedicated each releases, and subsequent style, to whatever instrument they choose for composition. Earlier this year the demo MMXX was based around the quiet and mournful sounds of the the Daewoo EX-Z Plus Digital piano. All of this esoteric gear discussion may sound odd but at the core of each these records is a love for equipment and the wild and flagrant experimentation that comes with it. Maiden Hair is not bound to any sound nor to this realm of existence as the composer could be some otherworldly entity sent to this world to confuse and entertain.