With The Journey, Morketsvind weaves a tale of a truly epic odyssey, worthy of the world’s most talented dungeon master.

Dungeon Synth is a subgenre that can best be described as an offshoot of electronic dark ambient that was fostered in the shadowy fringe of the 90s black metal scene. It’s roots are planted deep in new age synthesizer music, high fantasy, and the tabletop gaming community. It’s a subgenre that rewards imagination. The recordings usually provide an evocative sense of setting and often establish a narrative arc through song titles and album artwork. The genre has seen a recent resurgence and a legitimate flourishing in the past few years. It has become an undeniable niche in the current musical underground. There is a thriving and tight-knit community of creators and fans that has forged a completely underground support structure outside of much media attention. This community maintains an open and inviting discourse that encourages experimentation, and novelty. 

Formed in 2015, Out Of Season Records has been one of the standard bearers of the current onslaught of dark dungeon music. They have worked with many of the genre’s most beloved modern acts such as Old Tower, Fief, Thangorodrim and Chaucerian Myth. The musicians on the label tend to build on the classic blueprint established by the genre’s early history. Russian act, Mørketsvind fits comfortably alongside the other artists, and having been founded in the 90s, bridges the gap between the genre’s early days and its current incarnation. Morketsvind’s The Journey, released this year on Out Of Season is the newest album by the medieval dark ambient auteur.

With The Journey, Mørketsvind weaves a tale of a truly epic odyssey, worthy of the world’s most talented dungeon master. The album is composed entirely of synthesized sounds. Electronic horns and percussion weave somber and regal melodies that evoke images of ancient throne rooms and banquet halls, full of resplendent knights, and noblemen. The baroque arrangements quickly and effortlessly shift into bombastic bombardments of heavy timpani, choral pad and deep brass. Ornate melodies crafted with organ or harpsichord sounds carry the listener through the grand halls of the holdfast, maintaining the royal haughtiness and baroque sensibilities of the rest of the record. On the final track, “Kot,” spoken word vocals add to the mystique before the album fades out with field recordings of birds squawking in the frigid mists of the morning.

In a genre where amateurism and lo-fi sensibilities are welcomed and rewarded, Mørketsvind offers a clear, concise and fully realized album.

There isn’t much variation in style between the tracks, but more than anything, an album like this needs to be able to convey imagery and mood and it does that quite well. Forged in the ancient traditions and realized with modern sensibilities, this release acts as a map scrawled in parchment showing where the genre came from, and how far it has come.

Dylan Ettinger 

This is Dylan’s first post for Tome to the Weather Machine. Check out our interview with him about his experimental noise project Hasufel.

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