From the damp caverns and underground monastery cells of Buenos Aires comes Goblintropp. This solo project by Friedrich Curwenius has already gained some attention, despite only having put out one digital release, Tunnels Under the Forest. It is this album that has now been complemented with an additional track, and published by Lighten Up Sounds on beautiful audio cassette, packaged in a leather pouch.
Goblintropp plays dungeon synth, and does so in a way that is a credit to the genre. The style is heavily influenced by the early work of Mortiis, though it is more complex in nature. Født Til Å Herske, Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør and Crypt of the Wizard – all these three albums are excellent points of reference when describing different parts of the tape. There are harrowing flutes, great piano parts, epic synth pads, booming timpani and dark, spoken word vocals. The production is pretty much spot on, with everything having a certain lo-fi air, further enhanced by the hiss inherent in the format.
The tape features three tracks: opening anthem and in my view also the best track “Troop of Goblins”, the brilliantly titled “The Grotto of the Whispering Mushrooms” and the brief “The Nightmare at the Pond”. It is the last composition that was added specifically for the physical release. It is no exaggeration to say that the song titles, just as the music, manifest the dungeon synth ethos in the clearest way possible. There is an authentic, organic feel to the music, it will certainly invoke nostalgia in old Mortiis fans, but it is also well constructed and “professional” enough to avoid feeling like it’s only about retro LARP:ing.
The pouch is more than just a packaging gimmick, and I strongly recommend listening to the tape with headphones while keeping it nearby. The musky scent – and I’m not kidding here – will add a whole lot to the experience, and bring the trampling of goblins’ feet closer to your mind’s eye than you ever thought possible.
The tape version of Tunnels Under the Forest is limited to 70, which is another refreshing thing. True to form we will arrogantly state for the record that the ultra strict limitations of 15-20 copies should be replaced by editions of at least this size as soon as possible, though grown-up us of course realize that there may be economic considerations for many DS labels. Either way: one of these beautiful babies can be picked up from Lighten Up Sounds’ homepage or bandcamp. Or, if you’re fine with missing the additional track, a very humanely priced download of the original digital release is available from Goblintropp’s own bandcamp.