Like the ever expanding root system of a magic tree, bearing multi-colored dragons and exploding mushrooms as fruit, the genre of dungeon synth keeps growing. Acheulean Forests may sound like an Uncommon green/white card in Magic the Gathering, but is in fact a dungeon synth project aiming to bring some faery mystery to a genre mainly devoted to faery mysteries. The style is on the slightly more lo-fi side, without going for dungeon noise or intentional lack of tightness. Mortiis’ Crypt of the Wizard, as well as his old side project Fata Morgana would be the first line of comparison – troll-like, rhythmic light notes summons images of stuff going on in a forest. This feeling is also strengthened by ample use of sampled forest sounds.
Different tracks have different approaches. Some feel more like tributes than independent work; for example, “Mystical Forests of Eternity” sounds like it actually managed to locate the exact synth sounds used on some of Mortiis’ earlier albums. Others find a voice of their own, not least the upbeat and high-spirited opener “Fairy Wings” and the oddly satisfying closing track “Fairies Take Flight”. All in all, this is a solid release, at least if you like your fairy tales full of pixie dust and your dungeon synth fairly bare bones. Even the stuff that is less than original is still great. As we have often pointed out: originality is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Additionally, with The Enchantment Acheulean Forests manage to do a whole lot of things right besides the music alone. First of all, this release’s concept is explicitly inspired by the work of Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and her Fairyland collection – and this type of incorporation of extra-musical cultural concepts is always welcome in DS. Secondly, the label Pacific Threnodies have released this with a 100 copy limitation right out the gate, which is absolutely excellent. It’s always nice when artists and labels believe in the stuff they put out, and while it is understandable that the cost and risk of an edition like this may be too much for some labels, it must still be applauded when someone dares to go there. This will probably be expensive as all hell in a few years anyway, but at least now those who really want one will have a decent chance come release day.
If you want to fly away on fairy wings, or just like your dungeon synth simple but cultured, you can’t go wrong with Acheulean Forests. Tap a plain, a forest and three lands of your choice to play. The Enchantment is released on October the 27th, and is of course already available for preorder – on audio cassette or digital.