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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:58 am 
 

The subgenre of dungeon synth occasionally gets mentioned here and there in Rec Central and elsewhere, but I thought it might be interesting to create a thread here for general discussion pertaining to it. I suppose the majority of metal listeners' first contact with this material (if ever) would be either the early works of Mortiis, Burzum's Daudi Baldrs or Hli∂skalf, or perchance the Graveland side project Lord Wind. Both quite different approaches to this form of music, and arguably entirely unrelated in vision and intent, but then this subgenre, small as it is, does seem to tend toward a marked degree of diversity. (I should point out early that I'm aware dungeon synth is more of an 'imagined' subgenre than a codified one at this point in time, having retrospectively lumped together various outfits that may or may not have had any artistic influence on one another... it's just a convenient rubric for the purposes of discussion.) Other interesting examples of the 'genre' include the slightly more recognized Fjelltronen, being the sole album of Wongraven, as well as more obscure recordings such as Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra's Midnight Fullmoon and the albums of Equitant.

All in all I'm curious about your experiences with dungeon synth, your impressions of it in relation to metal, and any particular gems you'd recommend tracking down. Have the DS side projects of metal musicians sparked your interest in other forms of music, or altered your view of the metal bands with which they're indirectly associated?

And for the record, I'm already aware of the dungeon synth blogspot site, and it's a good resource for this sort of thing.
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John_Sunlight
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:40 am 
 

Cintecele diavouli instantaneously come to mind though I won't insult you by implying you didn't already know them. :)

It seems like the only strong commonality between the lot besides an affinity for mellow midis is a fascination with medieval stuff. As far as the metal side projects go, that stands to reason since they were all already into that stuff. Seems like it was another logical route for them to explore these ideas since they had all the necessary equipment lying around and studio access. A lot of that stuff isn't far removed from what would happen if you took the metal out of their metal.
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jute
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:55 am 
 

I really like this stuff. I was introduced to the genre through Burzum's synth albums, both of which are strong works. I generally prefer the albums that are pure synth/ROMpler music, without vocals, acoustic guitars, etc. The genre always reminds me of old DOS RPGs - could there be any more appropriate music for dungeon crawling?
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:24 am 
 

Thanks for the rec, Sunny. I haven't looked into them as yet, but I shall! I'm no expert on this stuff, there's lots of it out there that I've not yet heard.

Quote:
A lot of that stuff isn't far removed from what would happen if you took the metal out of their metal.


Yeah, that's pretty clear to see with some of these artists. Lord Wind certainly comes to mind. Though I don't know, there are quite a few of them as well that seem to have their own thing going on here, rather divorced from metal. One of the things I enjoy about Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra's Midnight Fullmoon, for example, is how little it sounds like Nokturnal Mortum material, or really metal whatsoever; it's altogether dissimilar. I'd take this album over Lunar Poetry or Goat Horns any day, for me it's far more engrossing and evocative. Still, I'm not sure if it really qualifies as true dungeon synth, it seems more like some sort of oddball experimental music than anything, but the atmosphere and aesthetic philosophy, if you will, is certainly in line with what the dungeon synth artists seem out to portray. And that's really mostly what unifies this subgenre, I think... moreso than particular arrangements and compositional strategies, it seems to be a certain spirit of fantastical, imaginative exploration--combined with a keyboard-oriented studio setup--that ties these disparate artists together.

jute wrote:
I generally prefer the albums that are pure synth/ROMpler music, without vocals, acoustic guitars, etc. The genre always reminds me of old DOS RPGs - could there be any more appropriate music for dungeon crawling?


Makes me wonder if there are any DS artists that have based their stuff on The Legend of Zelda.

Think you could cite some specifics other than Burzum? I'd like to keep this thread full of actual album references and artist recs in the interest of enriching the discussion.
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jute
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:58 am 
 

I'm no expert myself, but this list is certainly the most comprehensive overview of the genre: http://dungeonsynth.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... lbums.html

That said, I wonder if by being based solely on BM-related artists the list is missing some appropriate albums. For instance, Danzig's Black Aria seems like a "dungeon synth" album to me, with its amateurish keyboard noodling and dark myhological themes. It was released in 1992, a year before the first Mortiis albums of "dark dungeon music".
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:56 pm 
 

Yeah, jute, I don't know if you missed it in the OP, but I already mentioned being familiar with the dungeonsynth.blogspot, I just haven't actually gone through everything there yet. Still lots more to explore, and I'll surely keep checking back to it. I was wondering more about your specific favorites as far as MIDI-only albums go.

Listening to Cintecele Diavolui's "Midnight Hunt" right now... it's rather cute :). I like how there's more variation going on here than found on some of his earlier releases. Also looked into Mortiis' other DS project Fata Morgana a while back, which seemed pretty nice but not anything immediately arresting.

Okay, now having my first listen to Depressive Silence... Despite the unpromising name, the music actually sounds quite good:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkhKrB-E ... re=related


Would anyone here consider Ildjarn's keyboard albums dungeon synth?
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:21 pm 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
.... being familiar with the dungeonsynth.blogspot, I just haven't actually gone through everything there yet. Still lots more to explore, and I'll surely keep checking back to it. I was wondering more about your specific favorites as far as MIDI-only albums go.
ynth?


That blog is really good and I had quite some PM traffic with Andrew, the blog's writer (he's also here on MA). Good to see some more people recoginzed bot the blog and the genre in general.

I'm into that kind of music for quite some years. In fact I was hooked on such music before the child had a name. Thanks to the "Tomhet" track and Mortiis' "Født til å Herske" which I loved when they came out. Mortiis' later releases are vene better imo, esp. "Keiser av en Dimension Ukjent" and "The Stargate" (too cheesy to some but I love it).
Also his (Mortiis) stuff with Vond is partially very good (the "Green Eyed Demon" stuff sucks though), esp. the track "Når Livet Tar Farvel"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE11iR49H-A
Not to forget his Fata Morgana album (and EP; though the EP doesn't really fit into the ds-genre).
Fata Morgana'S quite similar to early Mortiis though a bit lighter and not as eerie/gloomy

Besides Mortiis, I also admire Wograven and Lord Wind (esp. their latest one "Atalntean Monument") though they are maybe a bit more "folky ambient" than actual midi-based dungeon synth.

For "real" dungeonsynth I highly suggest checking out Andrew's project Valscharuhn. His album "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" is available for free at bandcamp. Very much influenced by good ol' Mortiis. Also "Shrouded in Mystery" by Forgotten Pathways, Pazuzu's "Awaken the Dragon" and "Medival Journeys" by Gothmog are fantastic classic dungeonsynth albums.

Under_Starmere wrote:
Have the DS side projects of metal musicians sparked your interest in other forms of music, or altered your view of the metal bands with which they're indirectly associated?[/size]


definitely. Thanks to Mortiis, Neptune Towers, Wongraven as well as Ulver's turnaway from BM to electronic music, I opened my back-then-only-metal-mind and discovered the wonders of both old and new electronic music in general (from Tangerine Dream and J.M. Jarre to modern IDM, AMbient etc.). If it hadn't been for Mortiis old stuff I would never have checked out Cold Meat Ind. and hadn't found many other bands...
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:39 pm 
 

Well, Andrew, if you're listening, please join the conversation! :)

From what I've heard, I enjoy most of Mortiis' earliest synth albums more... something about them simply retains more atmosphere for me. Perhaps they feel slightly less video game-ish. I've also looked slightly into Vond in the past, and was encouraged to examine that more.

Thanks for all the recs... Yes, I remember reading about Valscharuhn in the past, and it sounded pretty great, but I'd forgotten the name since then, so thanks! Pazuzu I've experimented with, but it all sounded quite terrible... maybe I just need to focus on Awaken the Dragon and ignore the rest. Shrouded in Mystery I'm very interested to hear but can't seem to find any way to acquire it so far.

I have to say the few tracks I've just been exposed to by Depressive Silence were fantastic, almost exactly what I want to hear with this kind of art. Really great stuff!

Myrrdin's Glomung Ofer Se Weald also seems like a really nice release, very well produced.
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Last edited by Under_Starmere on Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:31 pm 
 

Mausling, if you haven't yet, you should check out Klaus Schulze's Timewind and Mirage, both really wonderful albums that have more than a little in common with the dungeon synth perspective. If you're familiar with Tangerine Dream, though, I figured you might've already gone over some of this.

EDIT: Yeah, I don't think the narrator-like vocals on Pazuzu's Awaken the Dragon are doing it for me. Just the whole thing is kind of.... off. Sucks, 'cause I really love Summoning to death. Probably gonna give this one a pass, but there're plenty more albums out there to explore.
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:41 pm 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Mausling, if you haven't yet, you should check out Klaus Schulze's Timewind and Mirage, both really wonderful albums that have more than a little in common with the dungeon synth perspective. If you're familiar with Tangerine Dream, though, I figured you might've already gone over some of this.


you figure right. When discovering TD back then, I naturally "stumbled" across Klaus Schulze later and am also a huge fan of his work (even the more beat-ladden stuff he partially did).

Another very good artist btw is Neptunell. Strongly Lord Wind influenced and unfortunately long disbanded since a few years. All his music was at some point available for free dwonload though the pages might no longer exist.

Also very much recommended (imo) are the albums by Von Liebenfels (I recced them to Andrew and he put them on the list, same with Neptunell ;-) ). Though he (solo project) seems to have "strange" (to say it nicely) political views, the instrumental music of course (no lyrics) shows nothing of this. The music is beautiful, gloomy, melodic dungeonsynth/ambient. A third album is said to be rel. this year... (got both albums already out. if interested get them cheap on skullline.com). Here's one track:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCqycO3fJpQ

Not totally dungeonsynth but nevertheless fitting are some (not all!) albums by synth-soundscape artists like Nox Arcana. They made a kind of fantasy based album called "Blood of the dragon" from which samples and info text are to be found here: http://www.noxarcana.com/dragon.html as well as one based on the cthulhu mythos called "Necronomicon" which is to be found here http://www.noxarcana.com/necronomicon.html Esp. the Necronomicon album is fantastic!

edit:
December's Fire - Deszcz Ma Łzą, Piorun Mym Krzykiem: also fantastic and one of the first albums of the genre I owned back then together with Mortiis and Wongraven in the early/mid-90s. Got that on tape back then via mail directly from the artist after stumbling upon it in an old underground zine. Ahh, glorious days ;)
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Scorntyrant
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:07 am 
 

I used to like a bit of this stuff years ago, but I've come to realise its really amateurish Dark ambient by guys with little or no exposure to the history of post-industrial music and crappy midi keyboards. These days I'd much rather listen to the better artists on CMI or Cold Spring. It seems that Metal guys who go in for this sort of thing just get the surface "woo, spooky" novelty reaction but dont realise that their efforts dont stand up next to artists who are not creating this as a sideline to their usual metal stuff but are immersed in it as a completely different and independent field. It would be like Green Day creating what they think is a "heavy Metal" track, but not having the skills, background or gear to have it pass muster to anyone who understands the fundamentals of the genre.

My 2C anyway.
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:01 am 
 

@Scorntyrant: I see your point and while this surely fits to some (maybe even many) artists, to me it's both the use of midi keyboards and some kind of naiveness which has this certain charme. No matter how "bad" or "unskillful" they may be, it works for me to create a certain atmosphere. Most (not all!) dark ambient stuff on CM is nowadays (liked that years ago) too boring for me...
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:47 am 
 

Definitely agreeing with mausling on this one. Dungeon synth isn't trying to be dark ambient. The goals/intents of both subgenres don't really seem to be the same at all, and directly comparing them doesn't make a whole lot of sense. They simply embody different mind states, and aren't meant to evoke the same images, emotions or responses. Disparate approaches for differing visions.

Besides, making quality ambient or keyboard-based music doesn't necessarily require any expertise in the history of post-industrial culture. Not quite sure where you got that from. :scratch:
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:20 pm 
 

sorry for this following little thread hijack:

I'm a huge fan not only of dungeonsynth but geneally of bombastic synth music. The best examples possibly being these two songs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYufuVNbw4M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GRjOJr3-HQ

So, if anybody knows of any projects, bands, soundtracks whatever in that vein (note: not fully orchestrated stuff. It's synth stuff I want,
they can emulate an orchestra to some point but it has to be hard that it's clearly made on synthesizers!),
please send me a PM with your ideas to keep this thread clear from it.
I did a rec-thread some time (years) ago but got not many fitting recs. However maybe in this thread are the right people ;)
Though I know quite some bands and soundtracks coming close feel free to rec anything you think might fit. Thanks in advance...

ok - now btt ;)
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VRR
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:24 am 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Would anyone here consider Ildjarn's keyboard albums dungeon synth?

Personally, I would. The moods of Hardangervidda are maybe lighter and more outdoors-y than most dungeon synth, but the music sits fine beside the best of Mortiis and the Fjelltronen album.

I know that Mortiis and many other black metallers from Norway were heavily into RP games back when they were recording. I often wonder if the era I Mortiis records were made to be used as background music for their games.

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Scorntyrant
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:37 am 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Definitely agreeing with mausling on this one. Dungeon synth isn't trying to be dark ambient. The goals/intents of both subgenres don't really seem to be the same at all, and directly comparing them doesn't make a whole lot of sense. They simply embody different mind states, and aren't meant to evoke the same images, emotions or responses. Disparate approaches for differing visions.

Besides, making quality ambient or keyboard-based music doesn't necessarily require any expertise in the history of post-industrial culture. Not quite sure where you got that from. :scratch:


I thought I'd explained that well enough, but obviously not. Maybe the "genre" has evolved since I paid any heed to it (probably around the time "Crypt of the wizard" came out), but I was trying to convey the fact that I think its generally naive, clunky and poorly executed. Maybe what I really wanted to hear was something like Raison d'etre or MZ.412 for example - menacing, atmospheric sounds that flow and shift seamlessly. The stuff you mention filled that gap when I didnt know any better, but in retrospect it was a pretty poor effort and as soon as I started seriously delving into that side of things they showed their weakness.

I say that making quality ambient music requires a knowledge of the history and "state of play" in the genre simply because if you dont actually listen to any beyond Metal bands side projects, your threshold of quality is VERY low because you just dont know the pivotal works of the cannon and dont realise when you need to develop your own work more until its of sufficient quality to approach that level.
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:40 am 
 

Hmm. I suppose having discovered the two different genres in question in the reverse order (dark ambient/post-industrial first, dungeon synth afterward) may open more of a window for me to see the naiveté and clunkiness in dungeon synth as interesting and charming qualities, qualities peculiar and appropriate to the art, instead of as mere incompetence or lack of taste. There's an almost childlike quality in dungeon synth that I think amplifies its emotions of fantasy and exploration, that recalls a time when imagination was everything and grand adventures could be conjured from the merest ingredients of experience. That aspect of 'working within limitations' really brings out a special quality in art sometimes.

From your account, it sounds like you were simply looking for music that sounded like dark ambient and not like dungeon synth. And cheers to that, because dark ambient is great. But, to me, there's no real comparison between the two. Dungeon synth isn't dark ambient's hydrocephalic, wheelchair-bound inferior, it's just its own thing altogether, with its own goals and techniques that are appropriate to its nature.

Scorntyrant wrote:
I say that making quality ambient music requires a knowledge of the history and "state of play" in the genre simply because if you dont actually listen to any beyond Metal bands side projects, your threshold of quality is VERY low because you just dont know the pivotal works of the cannon and dont realise when you need to develop your own work more until its of sufficient quality to approach that level.


That's fair to say, though my main point was that there's no necessary link between ambient music and post-industrial culture. Not all ambient or keyboard-based music owes its lineage to post-industrial aesthetics. You could just as easily approach the creation of ambient music from a background in New Age, or neo-classical, or musique concrete, or electronic music... there's no one set path.

I'd say that if dungeon synth artists owe any particular artistic debt, it would be to video game and film soundtracks, not any sort of ambient.
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VRR
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 9:42 am 
 

Yeah, I would think that dark ambient is one of the least similar subgenres to Dungeon synth within the whole electronic-ambient world.

Film soundtrack, traditional folk, video games music, electronic pop and space rock are closer. Dungeon synth is more similar to these over ambient or dark ambient because it keeps a strong melody as the focus of the song. It doesn't rely so much on textures to create moods in the way that ambient music does. That is why this label of Dungeon Synth is a useful one, as it is able to highlight that main distinction: melody over mood.

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elf48687789
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:25 am 
 

Going through my bookmarks to find something is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I remember finding some cool Finnish stuff which fits the category on the mikseri site.

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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:10 pm 
 

Hehe...listening to Lamentation's As Shadowkingdom Comes to My Sight for the first time; kind of funny that most of this is just bastardized Bach pieces, but it's sort of fun to hear it all recontextualized in this Castlevania matinée form.
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:07 pm 
 

elf48687789 wrote:
Going through my bookmarks to find something is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I remember finding some cool Finnish stuff which fits the category on the mikseri site.


hmm, maybe you thought of Jääportit? Their first album surely has some dungeonsynthy "connections" bur overall more on a normal synth/ambient style.


Under_Starmere wrote:
There's an almost childlike quality in dungeon synth that I think amplifies its emotions of fantasy and exploration, that recalls a time when imagination was everything and grand adventures could be conjured from the merest ingredients of experience. That aspect of 'working within limitations' really brings out a special quality in art sometimes.


This is exactly how and why it appeals to me!
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elf48687789
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:07 am 
 

grauer_mausling wrote:
elf48687789 wrote:
Going through my bookmarks to find something is almost like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I remember finding some cool Finnish stuff which fits the category on the mikseri site.


hmm, maybe you thought of Jääportit? Their first album surely has some dungeonsynthy "connections" bur overall more on a normal synth/ambient style.

I think it was something else, but I wasn't thinking of one particular artist, I was thinking more of the various synth metal things on there (kind of like metal but mostly without guitars and with fantasy/middle ages titles, pictures of castles etc.).

There was a link posted on the Elexorien forum (great band which has not much to do with this topic, they broke up this year and their forum is no longer around), I don't remember the name but it was someone who had around 12 albums of stuff for free download.

I think it was something else, but here are some similar artists:
http://www.mikseri.net/artists/agelessk ... .46499.php
http://www.mikseri.net/artists/?id=50075
(but these are maybe cheesier)

this also has some stuff (kind of familiar, I think I've heard some of this a few years before):
http://www.mikseri.net/artists/midras.26375.php

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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:21 pm 
 

@elf48687789: thanks, gonna check the music later on. However some stuff is tagged as "power metal" (???). Oh, and dive deep in your brain to remember which project with 12 albums that was mentioned on the Eloxerien forum...

regarding Neptunell I've mentioned earlier. Some of his stuff is still available for free on some places.

Here:
http://ftp.se.scene.org/pub/scene.org/m ... neptunell/
(dl the zip files only and unzip them for the mp3)

and here:
http://music.mp3lizard.com/neptunell/

not all songs are euqally good but those influenced by Lord Wind surely are...
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elf48687789
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:32 am 
 

I attempted to find it through the Wayback Machine, but I only got thread titles without their text, so my best guess is it was a bunch of Avathar demos (they had around 8), even though the stuff on there now had vocals and guitars (maybe it had guitars then too, but I do remember hearing some instrumental vaguely Summoning-style stuff with lots of keys- of which there are several projects on that site, but I guess we are going off-topic).

Anyways, this stuff could also be considered Dungeon Synth:
first song on here: http://www.mikseri.net/artists/theelftres.64685.php

and all this: http://www.mikseri.net/artists/dragon-slayer.103476.php

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Commandaunt
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:52 pm 
 

I actually just started listening to dungeon synth a few days before this thread was started. Of course the first two albums I listen to were Duadi Baldrs & Hliðskjálf. Seems to be perfect music if you're working/reading.

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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:07 pm 
 

Commandaunt wrote:
Of course the first two albums I listen to were Duadi Baldrs & Hliðskjálf. Seems to be perfect music if you're working/reading.


why "of course"? To me they are more the second line of dungeonsynth (note: Burzum's track "Tomhet" is surely def. first line!). Are those albums considered the gateway to dungeonsynth (if one could speak of gateways)...?

Maybe this could be an intersting thing - how you came to that little, little subgenre only few (darin, adventorous and great people ;) ) appreciate?

So, yours was Burzum's two synth albums, my "starting drug" were Mortiis' "Født til å Herske" and Burzum's "Tomhet" track (but mainly Mortiis), followed by Wongraven.

What about the others here?
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Commandaunt
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:15 pm 
 

Hm, I'm not sure, I guess I just figured them to be the two most popular as its Burzum. They seem to be well known by most metal/dungeon synth listeners, then again I could be wrong. Awesome albums nevertheless.

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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:20 pm 
 

Commandaunt wrote:
Hm, I'm not sure, I guess I just figured them to be the two most popular as its Burzum.


Well, possibly true. Haven't thought of that perspective. Burzum, regardless of the actual music, surely is waaaaay more known than any other dungeonsynth artist ;)
However, if you just started exploring the genre, let me say that (at least imo) there's much better stuff than the already good ones from Burzum to be found. :)
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VRR
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:39 pm 
 

I was into Mortiis way before Burzum. In fact, way before any Metal really. The fat older chaps used to pipe it into the store at Games Workshop when I played Warhammer in my early teens. This is why I have always wondered if there was a deliberate RPG element to this type of music. Is is soundtrack-y and sits in the background well if you want to talk over it. Similar to Commandaunt saying it was good to put on when reading.

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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:47 pm 
 

back then when me and some friends were playing D&D/AD&D frequently, we always had Mortiis playing in the background (and some metal, too, sure...). ;)
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:36 pm 
 

Forgotten Pathways, December's Fire, and a few others have proved to be a bit disappointing, but I'm really enjoying Gothmog's Medival Journeys. Love the 70s synth quality in "Night Passion." Valscharuhn was a pretty nice listen, as well. Gotta revisit some of these Mortiis albums... but yeah, thus far Depressive Silence's Demo III has been the standout in the last few days' discoveries.

Mausling, touching back on the Klaus Schulze point again, have you ever heard his half-hour-long "Dune" piece? It's pretty fantastic stuff, full of imagery and emotions. It has the same type of 'adventuring' feeling/structure you get with dungeon synth, with quite diverse instrumentation, but it's far more extended and meditative in its compositional mode.

(Oh, and on a purely KS-related note, Dark Side of the Moog V & IX are pretty good later-period work. Gonna have my first listens to Irrlicht, Cyborg, and Blackdance very soon.)
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Compcat
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:34 am 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Well, Andrew, if you're listening, please join the conversation! :)

Here I am, checking in.
Under_Starmere wrote:
From what I've heard, I enjoy most of Mortiis' earliest synth albums more... something about them simply retains more atmosphere for me. Perhaps they feel slightly less video game-ish.

I don't think Mortiis has yet to be surpassed in this genre. Perhaps it was some residual magic from the black metal scene that he was able to condense, but I think his early work manages to explore fantasy in a genuinely spiritual way, which all the other dungeon synth artists attempt to do, though with mixed results.
Under_Starmere wrote:
Pazuzu I've experimented with, but it all sounded quite terrible...

Haha, that was actually my exact reaction as well. Still, since I think it is clearly part of the genre and 'historically' relevant, I felt it was necessary to be on the list. There are a number of works on there that I really don't like much. Although, one artist I am consciously excluding for being shitty is Uruk-hai. Utter trash. And with that stupid amount of releases it would destroy the list.
Under_Starmere wrote:
Would anyone here consider Ildjarn's keyboard albums dungeon synth?

I've been pretty uncertain about this for a long time (at least for Hardangervidda, not Landscapes. I don't think Landscapes is at all). I've added and taken away that album from the list several times, but ultimately, I think it is very different in mood. I think it's quite important for dungeon synth to be about fantasy, at some level at least, and I just don't think there's any fantasy in that album; it seems to me to be entirely nature-focused. I feel the same way about a lot of that 'Ice-landscape' ambient music that is also closely connected with metal. Still, I'm not entirely confident about this.

Some other artists I'm somewhat iffy about are Paysage d'Hiver, Dark Ages, and Thou Shalt Suffer. Do their ambient albums qualify? You could look to the list to see what I decided as to whether they are dungeon synth or not, but what do you guys think?

Also, I would encourage 'Scorntyrant' to try listening to "Keiser av en dimensjon ukjent" again, if you haven't already. That seems, to me, to be a quintessential dungeon synth album, and it is most certainly not trying to be dark ambient, neo-classical, authentic medieval, industrial(?), or anything else like that. It is undeniably naive, but if you have any appreciation of black metal, from which this genre was born, you'd have to understand that naiveté is the very source of the magic; it's the childish faith in the fantasy world necessary to create suspension of disbelief.

And another thing, I haven't found an opportunity to mention it on the blog yet, but I'd encourage people who really dig this stuff to check out Asmorod's "Dance in the Winter Fog." I'd say it's about 50% black metal, 50% dungeon synth, which is extremely common as you all probably know, but I think the moments with the 'dungeon sound' are spot on.

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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 9:11 am 
 

Hi there!

Quote:
I don't think Mortiis has yet to be surpassed in this genre. Perhaps it was some residual magic from the black metal scene that he was able to condense, but I think his early work manages to explore fantasy in a genuinely spiritual way, which all the other dungeon synth artists attempt to do, though with mixed results.


Mortiis does definitely have originality points in this field, and it would seem his self-motivated willingness to strike off into this territory (which some, back then as well as now, would consider quite dorky) as a means for exploring his own artistic dreams, beyond the judgment of others, would tend to speak to a certain spiritual inspiration. Other artists that have emulated him might be more easily seen as simply aesthetic parasites with no genuine soul behind their vision. But surely Mortiis had precursors as well. Soundtracks undoubtedly informed his musical ideas, and looking at it in that way, Mortiis' DS albums may not have as much of a sense of being this self-realized dream, or the stuff of spiritual fantasy, as simply rather another side branch in the evolutional tree of keyboard music, one born of little technical and compositional skill.

Not that I necessarily hold to either perspective as the truth, but they're possible ways of looking at the nature of Mortiis' work. I'd be interested to hear what comes across as particularly spiritual to you about Mortiis as opposed to other artists in the field. Is it the extended, epic-length tracks, or rather the misty, solemn wistfulness of his orchestrations? Or is it merely a gestalt of a number of factors?

Quote:
Under_Starmere wrote:
Pazuzu I've experimented with, but it all sounded quite terrible...

Haha, that was actually my exact reaction as well. Still, since I think it is clearly part of the genre and 'historically' relevant, I felt it was necessary to be on the list. There are a number of works on there that I really don't like much. Although, one artist I am consciously excluding for being shitty is Uruk-hai. Utter trash. And with that stupid amount of releases it would destroy the list.


Some evils are too powerful to be allowed to thrive, I understand.

Any other artists you'd like to single out as being awful so that we don't waste our time on them? ;) I thought Cernunnos' Woods was fairly laughable, but maybe that's just me.

It sort of surprised me that Pazuzu was so bad considering how incredible Summoning is. Also surprising to me is why Summoning never created any pure dungeon synth albums, seeing as so much of their music is pure DS if you simply take away the some of the more metal elements. Would've been awesome if they'd done a DS-dedicated side project or something. But Summoning's albums have enough of that spirit in them already, it might just be redundant.

About Ildjarn, I agree with you that his stuff doesn't really have the proper feeling, or even really the proper style points. But as the list seemed to have some margin for vagary, I thought I might pose the question. I don't really like those albums very much, to be honest.

Quote:
Some other artists I'm somewhat iffy about are Paysage d'Hiver, Dark Ages, and Thou Shalt Suffer. Do their ambient albums qualify? You could look to the list to see what I decided as to whether they are dungeon synth or not, but what do you guys think?


I don't believe Paysage d'Hiver counts, though I can see how one might be tempted to list Die Festung and Einsamkeit, especially the latter. But yeah... it's close, but ultimately I don't think it really fits. Worth noting as a DS peripheral, though, because those albums are great.
Dark Ages...judging by my recollection, totally not. Dark Ages I remember being more just some form of 'black ambient.' It has its merits, I guess, but isn't particularly good as ambient work and definitely doesn't seem to have the necessary elements for dungeon synth.
Thou Shalt Suffer I actually haven't listened to beyond their death metal material, so I couldn't say. Been meaning to give that a listen, though.

Quote:
And another thing, I haven't found an opportunity to mention it on the blog yet, but I'd encourage people who really dig this stuff to check out Asmorod's "Dance in the Winter Fog." I'd say it's about 50% black metal, 50% dungeon synth, which is extremely common as you all probably know, but I think the moments with the 'dungeon sound' are spot on.


I'm glad you mentioned this! I was trying to search this album a few days ago but couldn't remember the name of the project. :beer: I did give it a spin at some point in the past and I think the black metal aspect didn't really do it for me and so I canned the whole thing, but maybe it'd be worth going back and maybe just keeping the instrumentals in the form of a short dungeon synth EP :).
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Scorntyrant
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:05 pm 
 

Compcat wrote:
[
Also, I would encourage 'Scorntyrant' to try listening to "Keiser av en dimensjon ukjent" again, if you haven't already. That seems, to me, to be a quintessential dungeon synth album, and it is most certainly not trying to be dark ambient, neo-classical, authentic medieval, industrial(?), or anything else like that. It is undeniably naive, but if you have any appreciation of black metal, from which this genre was born, you'd have to understand that naiveté is the very source of the magic; it's the childish faith in the fantasy world necessary to create suspension of disbelief.
.



Might do that then. I have the original signed LP of Født til å Herske, so its not like I am unfamiliar with his stuff. Also used to have the Pazuzu album (which as pointed out here is fairly uniquely awful). Always liked Summoning though.

Thinking about the topic a bit more, I think my increasing aversion to the Dungeon sound is tied to my growing distaste for the more fantastic leanings of Black Metal as a whole. In the same way that I really dont like the folky BM stuff and over time gravitated towards the whole "bestial BM" alternative as a polar opposite, my itch for electronic soundtrack music has turned towards the imagined 3rd reich soundscapes of Arditi, Puissance, Der Blutharsch, Toroidh etc. Summoning is the only fantasy-based band I ever come back to these days, and much of that because "Oath Bound" sounds like an amazing Martial-industrial album. Maybe I just dont connect with my inner child any more, or maybe that inner child is so hung up on future dystopias a la Warhammer 40,000 and its attendant 1984 tropes that I dont "get" escapism any more.
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:30 pm 
 

Scorntyrant wrote:
Thinking about the topic a bit more, I think my increasing aversion to the Dungeon sound is tied to my growing distaste for the more fantastic leanings of Black Metal as a whole. In the same way that I really dont like the folky BM stuff and over time gravitated towards the whole "bestial BM" alternative as a polar opposite, my itch for electronic soundtrack music has turned towards the imagined 3rd reich soundscapes of Arditi, Puissance, Der Blutharsch, Toroidh etc. Summoning is the only fantasy-based band I ever come back to these days, and much of that because "Oath Bound" sounds like an amazing Martial-industrial album. Maybe I just dont connect with my inner child any more, or maybe that inner child is so hung up on future dystopias a la Warhammer 40,000 and its attendant 1984 tropes that I dont "get" escapism any more.


Scorntyrant, are you familiar with In Slaughter Natives at all? His Enter Now the World is a fairly obscure but absolutely awesome work of apocalyptic industrial genius that I think you might enjoy a lot. Very original-sounding and powerful for having been released in 1990!

Arditi's Marching on to Victory I remember being a pretty good exemplar of the martial ambient style. Toroidh has a number of good albums, as you mentioned. I think Testament is his best, though it's on the gentler side... it just captures the perfect mood for that sort of cinematic evocation of doomed Western civilization. It's poignant as well as chilling.

I know what you mean about the escapism deal––I don't particularly identify completely with it myself––but in fairness you could say that Warhammer 40K and dystopian fantasy visions are just as much visions of escapism as the mist-shrouded vales of Middle Earth. One is a fantasy version of our modern world, the other is a fantasy vision of our natural world. Neither of them are real, but they're inspired and informed by our real lives. Personally I enjoy thinking about both equally, the former with a certain cynical clarity and the latter with an imaginative yearning. And as far as enjoying fantasy visions goes, I suppose I take the experience much as I would experiencing works of art that are rooted in actual religious beliefs (Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, or tribal art) -- it's fascinating to observe these sorts of creations and ponder their emotional and psychological underpinnings or inspirations, to try and see them the way their creators did (difficult as that might be), while still retaining my own personal convictions about the world. Even if I think someone else's beliefs are silly and don't subscribe to them in the least, I still enjoy taking what I can from the spirit-inspired creations they offer and trying to find a glimpse of their inner self thereby, or perhaps a window into another dimension of imagination. I simply find it an intriguing and enriching process.
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:29 pm 
 

Scorntyrant wrote:
[Maybe I just dont connect with my inner child any more, or maybe that inner child is so hung up on future dystopias a la Warhammer 40,000 and its attendant 1984 tropes that I dont "get" escapism any more.


Yes, I know what you mean. Though my inner child and the sense for wonder etc. is very much alive, I also have a side strongly drawn to dystopian settings and everything bleak and martial. However both sides coexist very good and I can (when it comes to music and not only to a state of mind) play both Mortiis and Triarii, LJDLP etc. getting satisfaction from both genres.
And, as Under_Starmere pinted out already, this dystopian "thing" is also a highly imaginative and sets the mind to other places and settings.

Under_Starmere wrote:
Arditi's Marching on to Victory I remember being a pretty good exemplar of the martial ambient style. Toroidh has a number of good albums, as you mentioned. I think Testament is his best, though it's on the gentler side... it just captures the perfect mood for that sort of cinematic evocation of doomed Western civilization. It's poignant as well as chilling.


If you don't know them already check out Triarii. Maybe they don't sound so chilling and moody compared with other martial ind. acts but in exchange the songs are absolutely catchy, strong and glorious!
For some kind of mixture of both martial ind., neo-class. and some slight hints of ambiental (dungeon) synth I highly recommend L'Effet C'est Moi, btw...

edit: what do you guys think of Finntroll's "Visor om slutet" album and some of Isengard's synth tracks? I really love both and though the Finntroll album is maybe not 100% dungeonsynth it at least mixes it up with very good folky ambient.
And if you don't know which Isengard stuff I'm talking about check this amazing piece of dungeonsynth magic:
"In the halls and chambers of stardust the crystallic heavens open"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ44Uop1-d4
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:57 pm 
 

grauer_mausling wrote:
If you don't know them already check out Triarii. Maybe they don't sound so chilling and moody compared with other martial ind. acts but in exchange the songs are absolutely catchy, strong and glorious!
For some kind of mixture of both martial ind., neo-class. and some slight hints of ambiental (dungeon) synth I highly recommend L'Effet C'est Moi, btw...


I do know Triarii, and he has produced some very strong stuff. I find my consistency of enjoyment with him not to be completely 100%, but I do definitely respect what he does. Muse in Arms is pretty epic. I posted "Birth of a Sun" from that disc in the FFA a few months ago, that's an absolutely wonderful piece. I also like Les Joyaux de la Princesse a good deal, the debut and In Memoriam are both pretty high-quality.
I'll have to check out L'Effet C'est Moi.

Just now looking a bit more into Reutoff... definitely makes me curious to check out more! I've noticed Reutoff hardly ever gets mentioned in casual industrial/martial discussions, but their catalogue certainly seems worth exploring. I originally came to know of them through their collaborative album with Troum, Creatura Per Creaturam Continetur, which is an excellent release, by the way.

grauer_mausling wrote:
And if you don't know which Isengard stuff I'm talking about check this amazing piece of dungeonsynth magic:
"In the halls and chambers of stardust the crystallic heavens open"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ44Uop1-d4


That was a nice piece.

What're your opinions on Depressive Silence and Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra, mausling?
I had a listen to Forgotten Pathways the other day, but it was a lot more...err, badly-played than I was expecting it to be, especially in the percussion department. Methinks sometimes programmed percussion is a blessing. Gothmog was pretty good stuff, though, I liked it a lot.
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grauer_mausling
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 7:46 pm 
 

Depressive Silence is very good. However, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra is not so exciting to me. Not bad but not more than mediocre. Don't know why exactly but it just doesn't work for me as other stuff of the genre. It's just all personal taste, I guess ;) While you don't like Forgotten Pathways, I do, esp. the song "Wuduaelfen".

Speaking of LJDLP, my faves from him are "Exposition Internationale - Arts Et Techniques - Paris 1937" (got a russian bootleg version of it. The original vinyl set in unaffordable and went for 800 bucks when I last saw it online some years ago), "Die Weiße Rose" and "Aux Volontaires Croix De Sang".

And here are some links for L'Effet C'est Moi.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPBFX9enONE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qufztiKi7fY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OubvUBLqdPA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-U8WLcq264

Not sure if to consider the following project as dungeonsynth but if you haven't heard check out Invictus from hungary. Surely inspired by Lord Wind and Mortiis but "enhanced" by some medieval (partly martial) sounding bombast:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCOsfX9AB0w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-tobpORlAc
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Under_Starmere
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:41 pm 
 

grauer_mausling wrote:
Depressive Silence is very good. However, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra is not so exciting to me. Not bad but not more than mediocre. Don't know why exactly but it just doesn't work for me as other stuff of the genre. It's just all personal taste, I guess ;) While you don't like Forgotten Pathways, I do, esp. the song "Wuduaelfen".

Speaking of LJDLP, my faves from him are "Exposition Internationale - Arts Et Techniques - Paris 1937" (got a russian bootleg version of it. The original vinyl set in unaffordable and went for 800 bucks when I last saw it online some years ago), "Die Weiße Rose" and "Aux Volontaires Croix De Sang".


Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra's Midnight Fullmoon is the only release I can really stand by. The first couple times I listened to it I dismissed it as rather mediocre, but upon further listening it somehow clicked with me and became far more enjoyable than before. I definitely enjoy the wide diversity between tracks, all of which have a lot of unique atmosphere, quite experimental at times. It all feels very exploratory, very dreamlike, and importantly it doesn't sound very derivative of other artists in the field. It has its whole own aura, in a way darker and more intriguing, and I really appreciate that. Definitely one of the best DS albums I've heard thus far. I'd say give it another chance! Those last two tracks are so good.

Will look further into the LJDLP catalogue, as I've really enjoyed what I've heard already! I haven't gotten around to any of the albums you mentioned, so it sounds like I've got some good listening in store. The tracks from Die Weiße Rose that I'm hearing on YouTube sound quite pretty.
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Compcat
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:56 am 
 

Under_Starmere wrote:
Not that I necessarily hold to either perspective as the truth, but they're possible ways of looking at the nature of Mortiis' work. I'd be interested to hear what comes across as particularly spiritual to you about Mortiis as opposed to other artists in the field. Is it the extended, epic-length tracks, or rather the misty, solemn wistfulness of his orchestrations? Or is it merely a gestalt of a number of factors?

I think it's even more elusive than that. That's one of the things that's actually most fascinated me about Mortiis; it couldn't get more simplistic and straightforward, and yet there is strange, vague impression of something utterly beyond the music, as if the melodies somehow summoned up a foggy window through which we can barely glimpse the lost realms of Faerie from our most ancient myths and folkloric beliefs. I apologize if that comes across as a bit overdramatic and cheesy, but really it's the only way to describe the feelings I get from it. It gives me faith, for brief moments, that the 'collective unconscious' is something far stranger and more mystical than merely a subconscious Zeitgeist, as silly as that sounds.
Under_Starmere wrote:
Any other artists you'd like to single out as being awful so that we don't waste our time on them? ;) I thought Cernunnos' Woods was fairly laughable, but maybe that's just me.

Unfortunately, I tend to be 'open-minded' to a fault. With Pazazu, I still feel as if I haven't given it a fair effort in attempting to understand, and so I wouldn't go out of my way to say "avoid it." The only real reason I'm so adamant against Uruk-hai is that the staggering amount of releases is offensive to me; I think it shows a terrible lack of consideration to the music. However, I won't say to disregard anything on the list. I even think Cernunnos Woods is pretty interesting; I'd agree that it's laughable, but I think that makes it sort of fun; it's so laughable because of how much the guy is obviously into it, despite it clearly not working. I don't pretend to completely understand some very strange and experimental works, so I find that it's much easier for me to point to the great albums than caution against the 'mediocre' ones. All the ones without asterisks in the list I'd say have the potential to seem like a waste of time. The Forgotten Pathways work can be tedious, but I think that's mostly because of the 'bonus song,' which causes it to overstay its welcome a bit. I'd suggest you just end it before that song, since it's essentially the same as the first "Darkend In Caverns Deep."
Quote:
It sort of surprised me that Pazuzu was so bad considering how incredible Summoning is. Also surprising to me is why Summoning never created any pure dungeon synth albums, seeing as so much of their music is pure DS if you simply take away the some of the more metal elements. Would've been awesome if they'd done a DS-dedicated side project or something. But Summoning's albums have enough of that spirit in them already, it might just be redundant.

Well, they did have one non-metal album, which was only an EP, unfortunately, but you'll see that I snuck that onto the list :P. "Lost Tales," it's called. I do wish greatly that Summoning would abandon the black metal stuff, but I wouldn't want to sound ungrateful, as they're one of my absolute favorites as well. Also, Protector was part of the first Grabesmond work, "In Schwindendem Licht," and to my ears it has quite a bit of the Summoning sound, but without the vocals, percussion, or guitars, quite clearly DS I think. Now since I'm on the subject of Summoning, do you guys think that Die Verbannten Kinder Evas would be considered dungeon synth? I always felt it was far more neo-classical. Same with Dargaard.
Quote:
About Ildjarn, I agree with you that his stuff doesn't really have the proper feeling, or even really the proper style points. But as the list seemed to have some margin for vagary, I thought I might pose the question. I don't really like those albums very much, to be honest.

In my experience Ildjarn requires both a bit of getting used to as well as a very specific state of mind when you go to listen to it, a sort of mood when you want to escape from all human contact and retreat into the wilderness.
Quote:
Dark Ages...judging by my recollection, totally not. Dark Ages I remember being more just some form of 'black ambient.' It has its merits, I guess, but isn't particularly good as ambient work and definitely doesn't seem to have the necessary elements for dungeon synth.

I might be biased for how much I love Dark Ages (and also Hate Forest - Temple Forest, which I believe is connected because of Roman Saenko), however I think "Chronicles of the Plague" does count. It's not 100%, of course, since it tends to be aiming more for authentic medieval than fantasy, however I would still say quite a bit of it deviates from the traditional idea of those times, and it seems to me to be very romantic and spiritual about what should've been sheer horror and degradation, which I feel is an interesting trait of this kind of music when it comes to the perception of the medieval and decay.
Now I think the major argument one could make against Dark Ages (as well as Hate Forest) being dungeon synth is that it's too repetitive, however I think such consciously minimalist repetition has been an often-explored part of this genre since "A Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost."
Here's an example that I think is very nice:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCMp9qxOO_0
Quote:
Thou Shalt Suffer I actually haven't listened to beyond their death metal material, so I couldn't say. Been meaning to give that a listen, though.

It's most likely not dungeon synth, and rather attempted classical music played with a synthesizer, however I would recommend it as 'interesting.'
Scorntyrant wrote:
Thinking about the topic a bit more, I think my increasing aversion to the Dungeon sound is tied to my growing distaste for the more fantastic leanings of Black Metal as a whole. In the same way that I really dont like the folky BM stuff and over time gravitated towards the whole "bestial BM" alternative as a polar opposite, my itch for electronic soundtrack music has turned towards the imagined 3rd reich soundscapes of Arditi, Puissance, Der Blutharsch, Toroidh etc. Summoning is the only fantasy-based band I ever come back to these days, and much of that because "Oath Bound" sounds like an amazing Martial-industrial album. Maybe I just dont connect with my inner child any more, or maybe that inner child is so hung up on future dystopias a la Warhammer 40,000 and its attendant 1984 tropes that I dont "get" escapism any more.

I'm very happy that you're open-minded to this, but based on what you just said, I really don't think dungeon synth is for you. I think you saw it as an inferior form within these genres you do enjoy, because it's been so long without a specific genre home of its own. You thought it was trying to be one of these genres you do like, however dungeon synth is the PURE expression of the 'fantastic leanings of black metal.' If you have a distaste for that then you could never 'get' this kind of music, just like I will likely never 'get' Profanatica or even most death metal.

Please don't take this as a criticism against you. We all come from very different places and obviously appreciate different kinds music, and I think it would be quite easy to misunderstand dungeon synth, since it has yet to be able to stand on its own without propping itself up on the shoulders of very different genres.


Under_Starmere, I'd suggest you try Munruthel's "Jav, Nav & Prav." The artist was involved in "Midnight Fullmoon," and I think it is very similar in tone and a great example of DS. A standout track for me is "Fern Flowering."


Another thing I wanted to discuss, but didn't really find a moment on the blog, is how do you guys feel about incense? For me, incense is absolutely mandatory when listening to dungeon synth, since it's all about atmosphere, and incense is quite effective at setting a contemplative mood. However, I burn it quite regularly and so I suspect my perception of it being 'necessary' is quite biased. If you guys don't burn incense, I'd say try it out with your favorite DS album and see if it gives you a deeper experience of the music.

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