One of my dreams is to become an expert on dungeon synth, or at least talk about it enough that people think of me as an expert. you are here because someone, probably me, has talked enough about this strange little genre that at least enough interest has been piqued for further investigation. This genre was opened to me by the work of Erang and has led me into a magical world of fantastical ambient music and obsessed musicians who create worlds with sound and imagination. There are few musicians attached to this genre, and perhaps even fewer listeners, but I call this little hamlet home. I know some others do as well and everyday it seems that this small genre grows a little bit each day. It probably will never reach a point when dungeon synth is fully recognized but for its denizens who create and enjoy the modest material available means the world. Enjoy your stay here in my little cottage and please have some tea and while you sit by the fire.
I have mentioned in a previous article that I acquired 62 releases from the Dungeon Lore Foundation (DLF), a Russian collective, for a very modest price of 15 dollars. If you are excited at all about dungeon synth, this is the proverbial treasure horde that lays at the end of a dark and winding cave. I could, of course, talk about every release in detail but that would put me here all year. I mean, really though, what else am I doing? Before I do that, I am discussing some of the more popular highlights from the DLF portfolio which could act as an overview for a collective with a massive catalog. Please allow this to act as an adventure hook into the wild word of Russian Dungeon Synth. If one is interested in these releases, they and many more can all be yours for a very small fee. During this holiday season, give the wonders of obscure electronic fantasy music to each and every person you love.
This article is continuing my journey into the world of dungeon synth. If you have arrived and need more context please visit our dungeon synth page. If you do not mind a bit of adventure, please by all means, continue into the dark.
In a recent interview with The Dungeon Keeper (the overseer of the Dungeon Lore Foundation), Kashmar was highlighted as an interesting stop on a long journey through the DLF catalog. Kashmar was mentioned specifically for their focus on Russian history and culture. 1380 is dedicated to the Battle of Kulikovo, which saw the Russian vassalage fight against the Mongol presence in their lands, known to the large Mongol Empire as the Golden Horde. The Battle of Kulikovo was the beginning of the decline for the Mongols, as well as a point of interest for Russian sovereignty and independence. 1380, the album, is full of native dialog and wind sounds over dreamy and sometimes droning atmospheres.
Splendorius is usually stylized as SplendoriuS but this could be a mistake. What is not a mistake is Norfaragell-Thul being the third and most recent album for the artist as well as being a wonderful dive into the lo-fi nature of the genre. It should be noted that this month, SplendoriuS remastered Norfaragell-Thul on cassette, which smoothed the rough nature of some of the vocals. Personally, I sort of enjoy the raw nature of the original version but then again I may be a weirdo.
Saltvind, like most of these artists, has little information in English regarding releases. I believe Saltvind is from Poland as their two 2007 songs appeared on the 2008 release Eternal Whisper Of Celestial North Chamber. Saltvind, the album, is two gargantuan tracks that eventually led a 2008 release but are presented here as what I assume is a cassette EP release. With both songs passing the 20 minute mark, Saltvind is a deep tome of cavern -like drums and echoing symphonies. Similar to being lost in Dwarven mines, this is a record that can conjure both imagination and trepidation.
If you have gotten this far into the review, then you are ready for Era of Ice. I only say this because Night of Swarog’s taste and texture are wholly dungeon synth. Raw and unfiltered, the sound of Era of Ice is indicative of a DIY approach to soundscapes. This album will also be a deciding point whether or not you enjoy the style as an appreciation for the escapism it presents or a reason to run the other direction. If the wonder and imagination that seems to be holding this record together is enough, then the production should be a distant memory. Welcome to dungeon synth.
Voronmrak, from my research, is from Siberia and makes music that has a chilling atmosphere. I think there is a misconception by westerners about Siberia and what living there actually means. Personally, I thought it was all desolate winterscape and was surprised to see some populated and temperate pictures from the region. Siberia is also really big. Regardless of any misconceptions, Voronmrak is probably the most lo-fi out of the group, even surpassing Era of of Ice. This does not stop the music from being fantastic, however, with synthy waves washing over one in chilling pixelation.
Going from Voronmrak to Elador is similar to braving an ice storm and then ending where sun breaks through the darkness and illuminates hope across a lush land. Bird calls, choral leads, and slow sifting synth rolls over arrangements that seem to be dedicated to the beauty of Russian nature.
In talking with the Dungeon Synth Keeper, he mentioned that the DLF was a sort of collective that would distribute dungeon synth to a larger audience. This means that it is not a label but rather a promotional group. Cain existed before the DLF and is perhaps the oldest relic available on the site. Even with this hook, Cain’s Child of Cold is probably one of my personal favorite releases on the DLF, and should be visited even by people with no interest in dungeon synth. Why? Because its structure and melodies are both hypnotic and immersive, possibly giving people a reason to fall deeper into this hole. Come join us.