One issue with much modern dungeon synth is that it is often too clean. And when it is not too clean, it is instead artificially, self-awarely reduced quality wise; lo-fied, if you will. This stems from a basic dilemma posed by easy access to high quality digital recording software, VST synths and a variety of other technical solutions and thingamajigs that have made creating music a whole different ballgame than it was back in the 90’s, when the first wave of dungeon synth (then unnamed) blessed thousands of audio cassettes all over the Western world.
Getting back to a raw, authentic feeling without simply LARPing it by adding some cassette static to your Logic mix-down file during mastering isn’t the easiest thing to do. Using at least some acoustic instruments could be one way to go, experimenting with the concept another. Dungeon synth act Einhorn has found one possible solution: adding another, relentlessly “raw and authentic” genre to the mix. The Tyrant’s Tower combines lo-fi harsh noise, sometimes approaching HNW, with back to basics dungeon synth melodies. The result must be heard to be believed.
Rough feedback noise, mainly staying way down low on the sonic spectrum with distorted bass and obstinate midrange, plays different parts on this recording. Sometimes it provides background fuzz to unbelievably primitive synth melodies, sometimes it takes the lead in tightly controlled yet powerful outbursts of harsh noise. In certain moments, like towards the end of “Ancient Masonry pt. I-III”, synthesizers and noise marry and coalesce in extremely peculiar ways. The noise is almost certainly created with physical equipment, complete with ground noise and all, and either way it’s just marvelous.
It may be because of my otherwise jaded nature, but the noise/DS combo of Einhorn really gets to me. The lo-fi rumblings and simplistic melodies on this release make me wish Einhorn had been around when I played Fighting Fantasy solo adventure books like City of Theives and Deathtrap Dungeon, or simply during my youthful black metal days. There is no CRPG feel to Einhorn – real trolls in the woods might listen to or play something like this if given the proper equipment. Each one of the three tracks is just amazing, and perfectly solves the riddle of how to avoid a too clean, digital feeling, without resorting to just replicating outdated modes of music production. This is probably not for everyone, but that is because everyone sucks.
Annoyingly, Einhorn has made the digital download available for absolutely nothing from Pagoda Mast’s webpage. This is music worth paying for, and I suggest you elect to do so before everyone sees who you really are.