“Lost in ruins and the woods surrounding them” – Moaning Shadows interviewed

German dungeon synth act Moaning Shadows have already acquired a favorable review here on Archaic Triad. The concept of creating dungeon synth with a chiptune sound interested us so much that we decided to drop the man behind the project a line, and see what crawled out of the digital dungeon. With German efficiency, answers came, and after some brief technical difficulties, we can now offer you this nice little conversation.

First of all, I really can’t find much about you online. Could you tell us whatever you feel comfortable with the internet knowing about you yourself as a person?
The less the internet knows about you, the better.

Dungeon Synth is a genre historically very much connected to the black metal scene. Do you have any such background – as a band member, as a fan, etc?
Yes, I’ve listened to black metal since 2004 or maybe earlier. It was just a matter of time before I came in contact with Burzum’s Hliðskjálf and Lord Wind. There are a lot of great instrumentals performed by other BM bands too.

While the melodies you utilize are very much dungeon synth or fantasy oriented, you’ve chosen to play your music in chiptune form. Are there any particular reasons for this?
In the beginning I was limited by VSTs, but after listening to the first finished song “Lost in the Dungeons”, I was certain I would keep this style. It’s like being in the 90’s again, playing video games, experiencing adventure at the river or being lost in ruins and the woods surrounding them. These instruments may sound “cheap” or “crappy” for most of dungeon synth listeners, but they create a dreamy nostalgic atmosphere with unique melodies. A lot of DS nowadays is well produced, but suffers from a lack of songwriting skills, individuality or recognition value.

How do you go about creating your music. Are there analogue chips involved, or is it all computer?It’s all computer.
Apart from general fantasy influences, you make several specific references to Dungeons & Dragons based computer Role Playing Games (“Cursed but still alive”, “Returning to the Dungeons” or “Leaving the taverns Behind”). Are you into the Goldbox games, Might and Magic, Ultima, Wizardry, etc?
No, I’m not into Goldbox games.

What music influences you in your work? I’d guess chiptune, CRPG music and medieval folk, but there’s so much complexity in your work, it’s hard to tell.
There are a lot of influences, wittingly or unwittingly, for sure. I listen to chiptune, CRPG music or medieval folk very rarely. Maybe my songwriting goes back to childhood memories of video game or keygen music. These influences can be found in space synth today. My taste in music reaches from (neo)classical, chants, over pop/rock music to raw BM. After 10 years of writing music I’ve reached a point where i can easily create and tab the melodies from my imagination. The armamentarium consists of music theory, like interrupted cadences, as well as working towards a drop like in electronic (dance) music. But even there you can recognize the influence of video game music.

As a hint for those who own the full length physical releases of Moaning Shadows with 11 tracks already: the last track always consists of compilations of remarkable parts (in some variations) of several tracks before. This is done as a reprise, analogous to movies in which the main characters are shown one final time at the end.

Five recent dungeon synth albums and five other albums everyone has to buy and/or listen to right now?
Рабор – За Тридевять Земель
Splendorius – Moernvar
Moonless Nights – In old chambers of Castle Wewelsburg
Terrenon / Ogion the Silent / Cut the Light – Sacra Luna
Effluvium – Effluvium

Besides the well known must-haves in BM or Viking/Pagan Metal I’d like to mention these:
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Vol. 1
Sorgsvart – Vikingtid og Anarki
Misfits – Famous Monsters
And a weird occult rock band from Australia which I don’t want to name here.

What is in the future for Moaning Shadows? Will there be more albums in the near future? A tribute album to Frau Merkel, vielleicht?
As some songs from The Secrets of History may indicate, this will be the last release of Moaning Shadows. There will be a physical release with 5 additional tracks. It completes the storyline of this release, as well as of the whole trilogy. But who knows if “there’s life in the old dog yet”?
Merkel doesn’t deserve any kind of recognition…
This last one is yours. Promote whatever you like, say whatever you like, and thanks for taking the time to reply.
You’re welcome. Thanks for your interest in Moaning Shadows and keep it up. Additionally, I’d like to thank the labels I’ve worked with in the past, and the people behind them:
Nahetal Klangschmiede
Nahetal Records
Narbentage Produktionen (ex Runenstein Records)
Swampkult Productions

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