Symphonic interaction that lives in black metal's backyard
Oytun Bektas is an example of a musician who seems simply too talented for his position. Don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously not saying that there’s no talent in the dungeon synth scene, but dungeon synth is very often all about simplicity of expression, just like Darkthrone used to be in the years of yore. And Darkthrone reached the pinnacle of dark atmosphere, and many people tried emulating them - to various effects. Tir, on the other hand, grabs whatever elements seemingly not suitable for dungeon synth he feels fit, and just crafts them into his music. It bugs me that superior albums like "The Vanished Civilization of Xatthoth" are released in 50 copies on a cassette, thus limiting the audience. It just doesn’t feel right!
DS Zine: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your music alone?
Oytun: Meteorology. I have no idea why. Ever since I was little I have loved following all the details - winds, weather events, temperature changes, etc. I check many phone applications, everyday! I know the temperature in and out of the house in our old home. If I get a job offer from this field one day, I guess I can leave everything behind hahah!
Truth be said, I don’t remember what this article was supposed to be about. As far as I remember, Uxoria’s answer in “Quo Vadis, Dungeon Synth” article in DS Zine #2 was so interesting that I asked him to write about dungeon synth in a wider cultural context. Our contact was rather sparse, but what he finally sent is astounding, because it sheds some new light on this music. I’m supposed to know those things, I’m the editor of this zine, goddammit! But I didn’t! So I guess everyone might find something new here, too.
"There is a significant change in movies in the 80’s. The epic is gone, and the sword & sorcery (the literary subgenre) becomes popular. We have the fantasy background, but we have no heroes; there are castles, but in ruins, because of the selfishness of the protagonist. In S&S there is a deep drama combined with sci-fi elements. Where can we find the feeling to communicate that? Horns and strings can express it, but it's not exotic enough. Synths, dear dungeoneers! Weird sounds we never listened to before. That's why movies like “Deathstalker” (1983), “Conquest” (1983), “The Devil's Sword” (1984), “The Warrior and the Sorceress” (1984), “Ladyhawke” (1985), “Starchaser: The Legend of Orin” (1985), “The Barbarians” (1987) and many others OSTs were composed with classical instruments and synths. Is it Dungeon Synth music? No, obviously not, but they were a big influence."
When I asked on my Facebook profile if anybody was up for writing an article about Jim Kirkwood, I did not expect to find someone to do it within an hour. Much less did I expect that Min Naing would write it flawlessly and send it within 10 hours. Min, you’re a machine, and we are all grateful. So that’s the first thing. The second is: a young music genre like dungeon synth is in a constant state of looking for its roots. We first thought it’s basically Mortiis, but that’s not everything, and even Mortiis was inspired by someone else in one way or another. There are more branches that we do not yet fully realize, and Jim Kirkwood is one of them. To me, the article you’re going to read was ENLIGHTENING, some completely new and different perspective, and I think it sheds some wonderful new light on many projects in the genre. It’s not an exaggeration. It’s a killer for experts and those always hungry for knowledge. Damn, I think I need to change my pants.
"1992’s “Ancient Fields” is one of the best overall examples of Kirkwood’s early material being classified as dungeon synth. The first track, “Knight of the Sun”, has your typical Berlin-inspired pulsating electronic lead being accompanied by these swelling synth pads and a rhythmic strings pad section. After the first track, however, the album goes into some of Kirkwood’s most dungeon-esque materials. Tracks like “The Great Wheel” and “Where the Old Gods Dance” showcase amazing woodwind-driven melodic ambient songs (especially the last two minutes of the latter track) being paired with heavenly sounding keyboard leads. The drumming on some of these tracks feels rather leisurely, keeping a steady rhythm throughout the songs. The rest of the album contains rather lush, ethereal sounding ambient music that can at times also feel like a dark ambient release."
The idea of outsourcing the article about Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze to Jenn dates back to Northeast Dungeon Siege MMXX. It was then that Jenn amazed me with her setup and clearly heard classic electronic influences. She was more than eager to cooperate on writing this piece, and I received the full version when in a car going to the mountains. How to express my first impression? Years ago I read a Donald Duck comic, and Donald was looking for a job. He bought the best suit there was, went for an interview, and the interviewer responded: “I’m sorry, we can’t afford to hire someone who dresses so nicely”. I thought something a bit similar, like: “This article is just too good for such a small magazine”. Now you can judge yourself.
The Dawn of Electronic Music
In the early 1940’s, experimental composers were beginning to examine recording technology in a way that was, at the time, novel. Considering the rise in popularity of recorded music on the gramophone (an early predecessor to the modern record player), composers at the time, including names such as Igor Stravinsky and Henry Cowell, had predicted that it was possible for music to be created specifically for a recorded medium, and that this method of musical creation will grow in popularity as recording technology advances.
The Advent and Adoption of The Synthesizer
At this point, most electronic and electroacoustic music was created via manipulation of recorded audio, as well as manipulation of radiophonic equipment like oscillators and ring modulators. While effective, this method of sound production was incredibly labor intensive and impractical. Fortunately, several individuals were well on their way to inventing instruments that would change the way that we, and eventually the world, would go about creating music.
The Emergence of Berlin School
Much of the progressive rock movement was centered in England, but would quickly influence artists from around the world. German bands at the time were particularly open to the musical ideas that British progressive rock bands at the time were showcasing. This particular brand of improvisational, hypnotic songwriting came to be known as “krautrock” or “kosmische music (space music).”
The “Other Half” of Dungeon Synth
While the direct influence of Berlin School in the aforementioned examples is clear from both a musical and aesthetic standpoint, its appeal was even more widespread than what one might gleam upon first glance. Many of the second wave black metal artists, including Mayhem and Enslaved, were enthusiastic fans of Berlin School. In episode 27 of the Midnight Ambience Podcast, Mortiis himself emphatically states that he and Euronymous (of Mayhem fame) “were really into (Berlin School), and we connected over that; guys like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze... even (the synthpop group) Ultravox.”
Post by dungeonsynthzine on Sept 10, 2020 12:18:50 GMT -5
Heralding Dungeon Synth Zine #3, pt. 11: MURGRIND!
What is wisdom for one can be nonsense for another
The scarcity of Murgrind interviews cries to heaven for vengeance. Well, the fact is, the scarcity of almost any dungeon synth interviews is conspicuous, but let’s face the truth: most projects have been here for a very short time, while Murgrind started a good while ago, dating back to 2012. A huge part of what you are going to read is unique, as it contains an immense introduction to the world of Murgrind. I don’t think it can be found anywhere else in such grandness... And I have a suspicion that he really enjoyed describing it...
DS Zine: Your project is known not only for its music, but also for its world creation, a kingdom of your mind. When preparing new material, what is first: the story or the music?
(...) In the beginning of all being… The universe is timeless. Pure energy. And with the emergence of the will, 6 forms of energy split off from the universe and gave themselves form, structure and shape. The creators Xorth, Mhyrell, Ahsotan, Bhalyr, Isaar and Vhyduun were born and formed from the primal energy into characters that humans would call "gods". Upon leaving the unity of the universe, they have forgotten their original omnipotence and are on a journey to experience themselves in a manifested form. Despite forgetting much of their real power, they were able to create the star system Cyleron from their creative visions in a very long process. In this system they created the earth world Tharaath. They animated the world with their presence and Tharaath developed into a living planet. The incredible beauty of nature was home to hundreds of thousands of creatures. Everything seemed fantastic, but their absolute will led them into chaos and conflict. After a while, strong concepts of opinion and points of view developed and brought problems. Concepts like “yours” and “mine” emerged. They condemned their siblings' creations. The rejection of a creation or that it did not arise from one's own thoughts brought the experiences of envy. Controversy arose among them, and anger emerged from the dispute and lack of understanding. Resistance... Rejection... Hatred... Which ruled them all. And in these wild forms of energy, a violent storm of war ignited, and lasted for hundreds of years, and destroyed their own created world. When the war was over, they experienced grief. Feelings arose that led to a deeper understanding. And from that understanding they found love again. Harmony arose, and from the knowledge, finally peace and friendship. After overcoming wild emotions, they formed a codex, and created a new world under the limitations of the codex. Helmongarth, the jewel of the Cyleron star system. The mighty sun always shone on the azure blue oceans and three small moons shone over the majestic mountains of the world. Wide valleys, endless forests, and thousands of rivers adorned the planet. In the northernmost part of Helmongarth, they built the shimmering fortress Mar´khyr. Mar´khyr is the main residence of The Six, and a gigantic fortress of wonderful architecture. The towers of the fortress pierced the blue sky and reached the highest levels in the world. The fortress and the existence of The Six are known to the very few elected in the glorious age of harmony.
Post by dungeonsynthzine on Sept 14, 2020 20:18:15 GMT -5
Heralding Dungeon Synth Zine #3, pt. 12: JOAN LLOPIS DOMENECH!
"A spirit that wants to take care of us"
Isn’t it blissful to read Joan’s words of how his dreams have come true? Reading his answers is the equivalent of watching Bob Ross painting, or smoking hash while watching the sea. Almost all the illustrations you see scattered along the zine are of his making. His illustrations certainly possess a dreamlike element, especially the knight and the castle made for the Sojourner’s booklet, or Weress cover. But how did it all start, and where is it going? Let’s see.
DS Zine: How did it happen that you started to illustrate for dungeon synth projects?
Joan Llopis Doménech: I discovered dungeon synth probably around 4 years ago and I felt completely captivated by this genre. (...)
The first dungeon synth project I could illustrate was Trova de Lid, the project of Alex Vogel. We became friends thanks to social media, and he contacted me asking if I could create the artwork. His music is truly beautiful, very enigmatic, and otherworldly.
Umbría: such an extraordinary project, he creates unique music full of personality. The melodies are very well written, so elaborated and intricate. Such detailed compositions, metric and structure, influenced by baroque music, approached in a delicate and poetic manner. It’s very mesmerizing, relaxing, and meditative.
ElixiR (Thomas Nemes): It was such a dream to work for him since it was one of the first projects I discovered and it opened a new world for me. His music is enchanting and mystical and it takes you on a magical journey through the woods.
Weress (John Neldoreth): He managed to create the perfect mixture between dungeon synth and space ambient, really taking us on a trip through the stars and the universe. He is a very talented musician and gives such a beautiful and delicate touch to each melody which results in creating a cosmic and ethereal atmosphere.
LordOrots: It was a pleasure to work for him too. He created a very personal style. So dark, majestic, mystical, and dreamy. The landscapes he evokes have this epic feeling in them. Also, he created his own world and universe, and the concept is perfectly represented in each song.
Post by dungeonsynthzine on Sept 16, 2020 17:45:51 GMT -5
The most powerful monsters always come last...
Heralding Dungeon Synth Zine #3, pt. 13: MORTIIS!
"How do you plug in a keyboard in a dungeon?" DS Zine: I've been digging through some interviews on the Internet, preparing for our interview today. And there was also this very short interview with Varg from 2013 where he said that he hated you… What might be the cause?
Havard Ellefsen: I don't know, that's a long time to hate someone, isn't it? The only reason, I guess has to be the fact that I was never on his side. From the time he murdered Euronymous, I was very clearly not taking his side. Back in Norway at that point, some people took sides and there were some strange sides being taken or some weird stances being made from people that I don't understand to this day. But there was a lot of confusion going on in the scene at the time, but I was always very clear that I was never on his side. I testified against him with pleasure. So, he probably read interviews. And, of course, he saw me in court testifying against the fucking guy. I was friends with Euronymous. Varg was always a fucking weird motherfucker. He was never likable, in my opinion. So then he went and fucking killed Euronymous, I don’t care what his reason was. I heard so many fucking reasons, money and jealousy and power moves and fucking whatever. The fact is he is an asshole man, and he never really apparently has ever gotten to become a better person. But I don't really understand, honestly why he would hate me? I wasn't the only guy that was testifying. I was one out of probably 50 fucking people. Yeah, he’s going to hate everyone, OK. Enjoy that man.
Post by dungeonsynthzine on Oct 22, 2020 11:04:12 GMT -5
Heralding Dungeon Synth Zine #4, pt. 1: UR PALE!
If we look through the prism of the dungeon synth world, Dominik is eccentric. Yes, this is his true name, which he doesn’t conceal at all, just like his surname. It feels like, given an occasion, he would tear down all the cloaks in the world, and unveil all the hoods hiding musician’s faces, and shout “Reveal yourselves!”. His music is equally eccentric, as it ties worlds seemingly untieable. Imagining music that is a mix of speed metal and Enya might be a tough challenge, but Dominik probably didn’t know that, because that’s what he composed under the name of Ur Pale. All hands on deck, the ship is leaving the bay!
DSZ: Ahoy Ur Pale! Most listeners and musicians come to this music through black metal, dark as the inside of a bat's ass, while your roots seem to be speed metal, which is, in many aspects, the opposite of it all. You don't hide your face under the hood, nor identity, one can even easily find out where you live. Why so? Are you bored with this ethos?
Dominik: Hello, thanks for having me! Yeah, I've always been into the speed/classic heavy metal stuff more than black metal bands. I like to put it on sometimes though. Especially while doing workouts. I came here more from the game OSTs and movie scores. I always loved this kind of sound. This genre is a great template for creating something magical, which cannot be found in music I was listening to on a daily basis. It's just not for me, all this mystery stuff, too much of it nowadays. I wanted to focus on music and design, not on creating myths and covering my face. I use DS music as a tool for contemplation and escaping from everyday's reality. I want to give my nostalgia a way out. By the way i just like to talk with people. It's a pleasure for me to thank them when I see them supporting my works.
DSZ: Is Ur Pale a crossover of Poledouris and Running Wild?
Dominik: That's right. Basil, Running Wild and Enya!
Post by dungeonsynthzine on Oct 24, 2020 13:22:32 GMT -5
Heralding DSZ #4, pt. 2: ÖRNATORPET!
"I suddenly noticed this figure appear in the middle"
A cold wind blows as Anders traverses snow-clad woodlands of frozen Sweden with his dog at one side, and a camera hanging on the other. He’s like a tree - once he puts down roots, he’s not going anywhere far from his kingdom. As the wooden landscape catches his attention, he knows that it’s time for a picture. Only when he comes back home, though, and filters the photo, he realizes that there’s something he didn’t see at the time of capturing the moment: a troll. Sitting there, his arms leaning over a stone, watchfully resting and observing Anders, as if wondering what he was doing in the Troll Kingdom.
DSZ: ...And the next question concerns her [my wife] as well, because whenever we listen to “Bergtagen”, she jumps at “Längs Klövjestigen” and says, “oh, it's my favorite song with the cuckoo. I'm sure it's about Stinky from the Moomins.” Is she right?
Anders: Sure, I know what Stinky is... But no, it has nothing to do with him, I'm sorry.
DSZ: Oh no. So what is it about? I will not tell her.
Anders: Well, Klövjestigen is a path, I guess you'd say. Stig is a path that you walk on and it's just the name of a specific path going through the forest where I grew up. And I remember there was a sign there saying: “here lies the old Klövjestigen”, where people with carriages and horses rode through the different villages hundreds and hundreds of years ago. So it's an old site. And I was inspired by that, as I am with a lot of things in the forest around my childhood area, because many of my songs are also named after places around the forests where I spent my time as a kid.