Sunday, January 20, 2013

Erang - Tome II

Initially, I'm struck by a feeling of the lullaby.  It might be the sound of crystals, but it's also reminiscent of music boxes.  This emotion has been a theme I've noticed in these two Erang albums, one which I feel is rarely so openly confronted in dungeon synth, though always present, which is that of innocence.  Often it is through the naiveté or youth of the artist, however in Erang's case I sense a definite self-conscious element to these choices, which is why it is able to be so up-front with its exploration of the fragile weakness of nostalgia, rather than shielding it in dissonance or putting the focus purely on the fantasy.  In that way, when it comes to expressing the emotional qualities behind dungeon synth, I feel that Erang is one of the most honest artists. 

When we get to tracks such as "The Road Goes Ever On," we hear a sad farewell to things past, though with the feeling of a happy acceptance of the ongoing nature of life.  It is very reminiscent to me of when Bilbo makes his journey to Rivendell in the Fellowship of the Ring, not intending to ever return.  It is a full and beautiful understanding that one has to let the past go in order to truly move forward, though with a smile and a tear in the eye, as one looks back for a final time before proceeding onward into the next phase of one's saga. 

My favorite track on the album is "People of the Crystal Cave."  This might just be my own personal enjoyment of the whimsical, but there is something purely magic about this track.  It seems very fey-like, having both the majesty and silliness of elfland. 

It is clear that Erang has a love for the old synthesizer tones, and is eager to explore them with a respectful ear.  It might seem a strange parallel to draw, but I often feel similar moods as to when I listen to Boards of Canada.  It might lie on a completely different spectrum in terms of style, but the mood I find is often on the same thread.  By this I mean that both manage to tap into a certain feeling which seems, in my opinion, to come natural to the synthesizer as an instrument, and that is the vague sense of beautiful memory, a sort of bittersweet nostalgia; this specific feeling isn't found merely in composition, but in a way that could only really be expressed with certain sounds of the synth.  A more specific point I'd like to mention in regard to the textures and recording style is that there is something quite striking about the end of "Ruins of a Lost Underwater Kingdom."  I don't know whether that was a mistake that was kept due to its peculiar effect, or an intentional trick, but it sounds gorgeous, absolutely fitting the mood of the track and the idea of its name.

Erang descends in and out of the darkness at various points in this album, as he did in the last. reaffirming the point that things will not end well, that despite the beautiful moments in this world, we all meet the darkness eventually, the one that sits behind each and every one of us constantly, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.  In Erang's choice to do so, however, he explores the full landscape of the fantasy, giving us a powerful contrast, increasing the intensity and understanding of all the various realms.

I'd say the weakest track on the album is "Dancing with an Evil Soul."  It seems somewhat out of place and distracting.  I compare it to "Wood's Lullaby" in the previous album, just not quite resonating with me or causing my imagination to be piqued.

Overall, it's a subtle and surprisingly powerful album.  Erang is an interesting artist, whose works seem to sound slightly better every time I hear them.  I hope you all will incorporate his albums into your regular listening schedule, because I think you'll find them quite rewarding.  Though I would not go so far as to call Tome II a masterpiece of the genre, I will still give it an asterisk in the list, to say that I both love it and that it represents the epitome of the dungeon synth sound, while still being very much unique and exploring uncharted territory.  I hope that Erang continues with his work, and continues to reach into those obscure and nostalgic atmospheres.

Tome II can be streamed for free or purchased for $2 here:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some things...

I apologize for the lull in activity.  I have no excuse, so I'm not going to attempt make one, however I will try to get back to posting something every week or two. 

Despite my lack of posting, I've still been adding things to the list during this time, largely thanks to helpful hints from the very active fellows behind the Russian VK dungeon synth page here:

There is a new blog created by Balbulus (who has also let me know about a lot of ds works that I've missed).  It is based around that close parallel style of music to dungeon synth, which is the more droning, texture-focused, and compositionally minimalistic synth music that I've referred to as "nature" and "ice-landscape" music.  He dubbed it "winter synth" and appropriately gave his blog the same name.  It is a genre which is just as neglected and unknown as dungeon synth, which I unfortunately lacked the time or personal interest in the style to address myself.  So far it seems very promising, and I think any dungeon synth fan will find it to be very interesting and deserving of support:

For anyone that was interested in more Til Det Bergens Skyggene releases, including "Vandringen I (Skoglandskap)," which I've reviewed and found to be one of my favorite new releases in the genre, they have recently been given a wider production by the artist, and can be purchased from him here:

Also, I've just been told by the man behind Abandoned Places that he has a new album out, and if my recent productivity in posting on here is any indication, it might be a while before I can give it a proper review.  So I figure for now it's best to just let you guys know that it's out:

That is all for this quick update.