The Dungeon Synth explosion has left many of us feeling a bit out of touch. If you listen to many different genres, or try to cover them as we do, it’s simply impossible to keep up with the floodwave of releases. Also, DS artists are terrible at submitting their work for review through proper channels, so we usually have to seek things out for ourselves when we have the time and inclination to write about them.
Roman Master is a name that has been swirling about for a while, and as a new cassette (with the comparatively decent limitation of 50) was recently released, it certainly makes sense to have a quick look and listen to it. The cover gives a clear hint as to what to expect here: an extremely primitive black/blue combination, a simple font and a silhouette of a castle. There is every reason to suspect that not all of the $900 VSTs will be added to the FX chain on this one.
Indeed, what is offered on this self-titled piece of plastic is obscenely lo-fi. Distorted, manhandled synth notes that assault the ears of the listeners with uncompromising simplicity, combined with primitive forms of noise, industrial and dark ambient. There are a couple of different synth voices used, distorted and chaotic, with crackles and strange noises constantly spicing up the whole affair. The melodies are quasi-conventional, but often go off in dissonant and broken directions.
The result is a bit mixed. The opening track, “Contemplation”, is amazing. While this deliberately simplistic and ugly way of creating synth music can be a bit hit-or-miss, that track in particular hits the spot perfectly. Other songs (like the second one) work less well, with some of the intentional sloppiness and primitivism not quite managing to convince. On the other hand, there are more than one interesting piece on here. “I Died Because I was Weak” deconstructs the basic, Casio like synth sounds even further, so that the track gives the impression of being about to give out completely – perhaps die because it is weak?
Most of the last three tracks, all of which incorporate more noise, dark ambient and industrial, also get the job done more or less. The ultimate one – “Monolithic Chaos” – is bound to leave at least most people into extreme, odd and lo-fi basement synth music feeling pretty content.
All in all, Roman Master is probably only for true fans of the genre(s) involved, but for them it is a very nice addition to their obscure collection. The tape is available from Moonworshipper and Hollow Myths.