The Orb Weaver – The Orb Weaver [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Neverwood Records | 1-1-21

Yes. A 2021 record I can safely assume is apart of this year. I have talked before about Neverwood Records being a fine merchant of a wide variety of Dungeon Synth. the Orb Weaver is but another chapter in the continuing story of Neverwood with a record of forest based drone that is a near 40 minutes spent in the nebula of grey mist. the Orb Weaver is a project from a German artist by the name of Willow Tea. Similar to past projects, The Orb Weaver explores ambient drone in varying levels of texture and mood. Fans of Neptune Towers will be happy to know the debut from The Orb Weaver is nothing less than a cosmic burial in neutral shades of grey. the artist’s off hand story surrounding the album,, and creation myth, is understand compared to the glacial sounds of its debut

when I was 12, I spent a week at my grandparents’ house. when I got out of their car, there was an orbweaver that had constructed its web in such a way I had to bend backwards to avoid ruining it. it became a familiar companion. the day I left, the web was gone, and the orbweaver too. probably on some adventure.

This small story contrasted with the cerebral sounds of the music is quite a journey as the hypnosis of The Orb Weaver comes with not being prepared for the experience one is about to undertake. There will be joy and narcotic haze undercut by an ever-present sense of anxiety that comes with knowledge of the unknowable. Enjoy this new year and the endless space that exists after awareness recedes.

Lamerak – Lamerak [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 12-29-20

this is once again a Cups release meaning it was released in the twilight hours of 2020 which I am now considering mentioning in 2021. Lamerak comes from the very new and capable Voices of Anuir which was originally a podcast that expanded to a tape label. Lamerak is actually the first tape release for the label followed by Reliquum in January of 2021. For an opening statement, Lamerk is a fantastic record for a label with a lot of promise. From the sweet medieval sounds which drift over taverns in the woods to abandoned ruins of long forgotten kingdoms, Lamerak is an adventure in under 15 minutes with a release that is structured as a narrative arc. There is many styles here displayed as an overture to a bright future for a label that seems to just be getting started.

Chanterelle – Earthly Delights [US, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Neverwood Records | 1-29-21

I recently received another tape from Neverwood Records and I paused to think that this tape label was one of the more recent outfits to take over my life. With an exceptional catalog, Neverwood Records seems to offer an endless supply of intriguing DS which a range of sounds. Chanterelle’s Earthly Delights embraces the quiet lo-fi spectrum of the sound but without a need to fall into a comfy designation. Earthly Delights is a compilation (?) of previous and unreleased music which serves as an introduction to one of the more hidden gems of dungeon synth. Magical and mysterious this music is vibrant and offers a sense of adventure for anyone who follows the wisps of light through the thickets of woods. I have always been pleased with Neverwood Records and Chanterelle is just another reason why I blindly eat mushrooms that I find on the forest floor.

Siegecraft – Noble Infantry [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Moonworshipper Records | 12-25-20

I am currently going through my holiday purchases and trying to catalog all of the dungeon synth that was released in the waning hours of 2020. though it is 2021 and most of this material lies on the cusp of years, I am going to make a special designation for material released in December of a year and make considerations when discussing the end of the year. This has been something that I have wanted to do for a while and Noble Infantry is one of those records which I want to include in discussions of 2021. From the band of weirdo misfits at Moonworshipper comes a surprisingly tame record whose strangeness comes in blurred edges emanating from a core of classic sounding dungeon synth. There are dungeons and dark shapes which moves through shows. At points, it sounds calm and at other times, it looms over you as a proper ghoul should. This is Mortiis worship but only in the spirt as Noble Infantry attempts to being medieval grimness back into the cusp of 2021.

Wyndcrawler – Obsidian Swords For The Heavendwellers [US, Dungeon Synth / Dark Ambient] (2021)

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Stench Ov Death Prod | 1-23-21

This is wonderful. Stench Ov Death is a Washington based tape label that seems to specialize in black metal and dark ambient. Wyndcrawler is a dark ambient act which invokes the spirits of old and new in a record that is textural and understated. Obsidian Swords For The Heavendwellers ( cool album name) is a tribute to both acts like Neptune Towers as well ads the newer dark ambient inspired acts like Old Tower. Wyndcrawler’s embrace of both melody and darkness results in a release that is less apart of the dark dungeons than it is the cold forest floor in the deep of winter. There is ancient magic which runs through the middle of this release which is something that could be missed due to its raw production. I look forward to more from this label and artist as there is something potent in this sound.

Ferhðfriðende – Deruenta [UK, Dungeon Synth / Folk] (2021)

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Self Released | 12-30-20

For purposes of actual cataloging, this was released in the final days of 2020. For purposes of talking about new dungeon synth, I am considering this a 2021 release. Ferhðfriðende is one part (or a separate entity) of Fyrngeflita, a UK based dungeon synth folk project that is dedicated to trees. Both Fyrngeflita and Ferhðfriðende are making demos which combine the easy melodies of guitar based folk with the atmosphere of dungeon synth. The Bandcamp release is accompanied by the description of

“Deruenta is a Brythonic word, translated to where the Oak trees grow”, from which the word Dart is derived. From the head to the mouth, along many a stretch of the peat rich waters, springs the sacred tree of Albion. Amongst which dwell many creatures, some friendly spirits others seldom seen, some so fragile they are found nowhere else and others as hardy as the Granite bedrock itself. This is the delight of the Native Ponies company, or watching the Grey Wagtail’s and Dippers at play. The reward of a long cold night beside the Otter’s den for a chance appearance, or meeting the watchful eye of the Heron patrolling the banks.

..as well as a promise that money from this demo will be donated to the Devon Wildlife Trust. This dedication to nature as well as a marriage of folk instrumentation is a brave step into a new arena of dungeon synth that steps towards a sound that is transcendental and eternally reflective. I am considering this a 2021 release since I most certainly will be talking about it over the course of this year.

Marsyas Zskin – Flight of Icarus [Greece, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Realm and Ritual | 1-10-21

As we turn our hearts and minds to 2021, I think I can speak for most that we are collectively excited for new experiences in the coming year. Most of all we are excited for new releases from a handful of excellent labels. Realm and Ritual is preparing for a dazzling year and one of the first releases is the mind shattering world of Marsyas Zskin. This 90 minute epic invokes the Greek mythology with neoclassical dungeon synth that is not content to guide on passive sound. This is the second release from the artist who is continuing a layered journey through mythology that succeeds due to craftsmanship as well as a daring notion to push the sound in new directions. From the first few notes of “Visions of Bright Aether,” the tone of Flight of Icarus is one of active challenge. Make no mistake, there are melodic moment akin to dungeon synth most are used to yet those lay on top of cliff faces and up winding passages on rock crags that urge the listener to scale this improbably steep mountain. Flight of Icarus marches along the same road as a growing number of progressive minded artists that are carrying dungeon synth into a wild and unpredictable realm. This is a place where the colors are blinding and nothing is predictable. What is certain though its the level of excitement one will experience.

Ninthalor – Through The Forest Deep [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Neverwood Records | 12-18-20

It would be wonderful if this was a 2021 release. It is okay. By now, I have talked a lot about Neverwood Records as being a gem in the area of high quality dungeon synth. Through The Forest Deep is the debut EP from an artist who I am anticipating having a stellar debut full length in 2021. Ninthalor’s soundscapes are both mystical and playful with sounds the feel like trickster gods which lead the listener further into incandescent woods. With far out synth effects and regal tones befitting a faerie court, Through the Forest Deep holds a sense of wonder mixed with unease as one gets further into the record. Ninthalor offers a journey and no one is saying that you will come out unscathed. 2021 is going to be an exciting time as long as artists and records labels continue to pursue unearthly delights.

A Good Mage – A Good Mage Is Hard to Find [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Neverwood Records | 11-6-20

I talked about Neverwood Records before with the release of Covered Brides’ debut. Neverwood is still new with 2020 being their inaugural release in October of 2020. With only months of existence, this Us label has managed to put out dazzling releases that are both comfy as well as alienating and cold. A Good Mage is the former, but maybe both, with a release that is intoxicating with its lofi esoteric immersion. Through this 25 minute release, the listener is treated to a soundscape which is as abstract as it is nostalgic. Combine this with a strong visual design and one has a release that echoes even into the new year.

Merkury – Spatial Illusions [US, Dungeon Synth, Ambient] (2020)

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Faberglade Records | 12-21-20

I would like to mention for the purposes of academic history, this record was self released in December of 2019. Feberglade Records included this release in the Winter 2020 bundle along with other fantastic releases. Spatial Illusions is dungeon synth yet their aesthetic, just visually, put this release in another dimension entirely. Torn between the realms of dark ambient / drone and berlin school electronics, Merkury pays tribute the dungeon synth’s primeval foundations with a record that is enigmatic as well as omniscient. It exists across the fabric of space and time and could easily be the soundtrack the universal changes in the cosmos if not for the omnipresent silence. For fans of Tangerine Dream or just anyone who thinks beyond the confines of prescribed perception, Spatial Illusions exists in extra dimensions.