Thorgnyr – Elven Rites [Iceland, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Realm and Ritual | 2-26-21

Yes! This review comes with no Bandcamp, yet, since the artist was kind enough to send me the record before its release in a few weeks. This, of course, is the smallest brag but I do appreciate being given access to a magical world from an artist I had missed in the past few years. In 2020, this Icelandic artist released two well received albums. Elven Rites is the third releases from Thorgnyr and continues the journey into melodic and understated dungeon synth. More so than Cycles or Depths, Elven Rites captures the quiet beauty of dungeon synth with a record that is delicate and enchanting. With a story surrounding a a political struggle following the death of an elven queen, Thorgnyr casts high drama with wisps of melodies which resemble paintings soon dispersed by a light breeze.

In the time before the actual release, one can get acquainted with he previous work from the artist which is a glacial landscape of classic dungeon synth.

Tütsen – The Safety of Prosperity [US, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-1-21

The tape release from v was one of the most darling packages I have every received. “Magical tufts of pink and blue fluff (not edible), Three crown jewels. One commemorative miniature crown.” Obviously these things are no magical nor jewels rather very budget knick knacks but the idea and even execution is enough to provide a warm tactical experience for a release filled with cozy memories. The Safety of Prosperity is a comfy synth record that intends to harm no one and leave no trace with its wistful melodies and delicate approach to the world. Through six songs, one is treated to a dream court of medieval ambience with an arc of journey and exploration. I love my small little crown as I appreciate the gifts of dungeon synth and the objects which people cherish.

An Old Sad Ghost – Der Letzte Koenig | Der Erste Koenig [Austria, Dungeon Synth] (2019)

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Gondolin Records | 12-29-20

This is a 2021 review of a 2020 tape release of a 2019 release by the Austrian artist An Old Sad Ghost. It is without a proper year which is why it feels so at home drifting in the passages of time and space. I remember An Old Sad Ghost’s contributions to the Dungeon Synth Compilation project in 2017 and how amazed I was at their attentiveness to atmosphere. Looking at the discography from the artist , one is cast into a world of gothic gloom with monochrome releases which reach out of darkness like tombstones. Der Letzte Koenig | Der Erste Koenig is a set of releases from 2019 which has been enshrined as a tape release from Gondolin Records. Initially popular upon its release, An Old Sad Ghost is adorned with another round of attention to this amazing release which has not lost any of its grim luster as it still conjures images if tall spires in mist and outlines of skeletal trees. This is dungeon synth for fans of classic depressive atmospheres that is enhanced by its attention to detail. This is neoclassical dungeon synth which plays melodies from pipe organs in the distance.

Vaelastrasz – Shadows Of The Eastern Kingdoms [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Gondolin Records | 12-29-20

Another Cusp record which was released on the 29th of December in 2020. Shadows of the Eastern Kingdoms was apart of the final 2020 drop from Gondolin Records, a label I have praised many times before. Vaelastrasz has been a name in dungeon synth before 2018 but the release of The Plagueland Chronicles solidified the artist’s status as a dealer in hypnotic dungeon synth that could lull a listener to dreams or incubate future nightmares. Shadows Of The Eastern Kingdoms is another tentpole release both for the artist as well as Gondolin as the dreary mists inhabit every mile of this record which feels less like an album and more a landscape of dread and despondency. I am thankful for labels like Gondolin and also artists like Vaelastrasz who continue to craft worlds where the middle grey is a cast of characters embroiled in a tragic play.

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.