In my further searches for dungeon synth artists on Bandcamp, I came across KOBOLD, an outstanding artist utilizing chiptunes. While I was going to make a post for this musician, I checked out the label, Heimat Der Katastrophe, and my goodness there is a LOT of releases! While I still haven’t listened to all of them, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorites so far:
While I normally post a single band I discover on Bandcamp, sometimes I get sucked into a genre and find so many that I need to occasionally post a “compilation” of Bandcamp finds. I actually didn’t notice until I started the draft for this post that the three bands I’ve included all have a female singer. While I’ve always enjoyed female vocals more than male in general, it wasn’t something I consciously sought after, especially in doom metal.
Note: I am sticking to purely doom here. Bands that I’ve highlighted in the past, such as Ruby the Hatchet, are more psychedelic rock than metal. Also, it can be hard to sift through Bandcamp’s tags, as apparently most artists will just add on whatever tags they want to increase exposure (understandable), but are obviously misleading and/or downright incorrect for their music.
While Godsleep’s first release was with their original singer, their follow-up Coming of Age is the debut for replacement Amie Makris. I don’t know what her experience was coming into this band, but listening to this album you’d swear she was a founding member, or at least this ain’t her first rodeo! Her vocals complement the music perfectly, and overall this is one of the best doom albums I’ve listened to, period.
Ohhh yeah now this is my kind of metal! The debut album for Smoulder, Time of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring, lets you know immediately with the cover art what you’re in for. This is certainly the grooviest of the three bands, definitely showing that Black Sabbath influence.
Windhand has been making a name for itself in the Virginia area for a long time, and its previous release, Grief’s Eternal Flower, in 2015 garnered even more attention. In October 2018 they released Eternal Return, and it’s quickly become my favorite release from them. Out of the three I’d have to say Windhand is certainly the heaviest, almost dreary, with a sprinkle of black and funeral doom in the mix.
Has it already been almost two years since I wrote the second entry about looking at a possible synth?! Well things never stand still, and even since that last entry many new synths have come along, and a few have dropped off or been replaced with updated models.
- DSI Prophet REV2 – This was a hard choice, but ultimately this isn’t what I’m looking for in a synth. It’s too big for my needs, and I still think its sound is thin compared to the far more expensive Prophet 6 and OB-6. With the expensive and now-discontinued Pro2, I’m disappointed DSI doesn’t have a smaller synth available.
- Korg Minilogue – As seen below, Korg has released a newer version.
- Nord Lead A1 – I’ve concluded this just doesn’t have the programmability I want in a synth, and I’m frustrated that Nord is STILL ignoring their synth line!
- Moog Sub 37 – Moog has replaced the Sub with the Subsequent. The latter didn’t make this list, due to price and frankly overkill interface.
- Novation Bass Station II – This modern synth has had its time in the spotlight and quite honestly could use a successor.
Behringer has been an absolute monster in the synth world since the debut of the Deepmind. Even more popular than that was the release of their Model D clone. Seriously, if I already had a keyboard I’d be considering that. An upcoming release that’s caught my eye, however, is the VC340. An analog string and voice synthesizer (the latter doesn’t interest me as much, especially the vocoder) with my preferred 37 keys, this synthesizer would make an excellent choice for ambient and Vangelis-like arrangements. At $600 this is an excellent contender, but as it’s still unreleased I will need to wait on some reviews.
In my previous posts I didn’t include the Mother-32, primarily due to the fact that it didn’t have a keyboard. Well Moog has remedied that with the Grandmother, a pared-down Sub-style synthesizer featuring what I consider to be the superior-sounding oscillator and filter (compared to the Subs). Yes it looks a bit wacky and retro, but for the sound alone and Moog’s stellar build quality and support this is a serious contender. At $900 this will take some thinking and budgeting. It’s too bad I don’t spend another grand and get the even larger Matriarch! Rawr!
Korg minilogue XD
Since my last entry Korg has released the minilogue XD, and for not much more than the original minilogue there’s a few notable changes and improvements that make this a serious contender. This adds a digital “multi-engine” and the full 16 buttons for the sequencer. At $619 I feel this will be in the top 3 synths I’ll make a final choice from.
Korg MS-20 Mini
In my past entries I’m surprised I didn’t include the Korg MS-20 mini, or at least give a reason for why it wasn’t included. While it has a few negatives such as its build quality and potentially unruly sounds, the fact is from what I’ve heard it may just have the perfect sound that I really want. My favorite examples come from Michal Patulski’s YouTube channel, especially his Classic 70’s lead video; I mean listen to it! Like any classic analog synth there’s no patch storage, but if you create something worth keeping you can jot it down on a patch sheet (my favorite is from reddit’s edge11), and that’s so charmingly retro that it’s actually a point in this synth’s favor. At $460 it will take a bit of thinking but it may edge out the minilogue XD. There’s no doubt, in my final choice one or more contenders will certainly be a Korg!
This is a last-minute addition, as I didn’t know this thing even existed! While I removed the Waldorf Blofeld in the previous post, I know they make quality hardware. Like the VC340 the STVC is a string and vocoder synth, this one based on the streichfett module, adding the keys, patch storage, additional interface components, and more. At $900 it’s not terribly more than the VC340, but I don’t know if I could choose it over the Grandmother (the latter can offer far more sounds). This is also an unreleased synth, so like the VC340 I’ll need to wait for some reviews to judge it better.
Yamaha Reface CP
Like the Korg MS-20 Mini I’m not sure why I’ve never listed any of the Yamaha Reface series synthesizers, as they’re a perfect first instrument (and one of the few to include speakers!) with mini albeit usable keys. While I initially liked the CS for potential ambient and Vangelis-style sounds, it’s actually the Reface CP I’ve decided to put on the list. I’m a huge fan of the electric piano’s sound, especially as heard on the Firewatch soundtrack. I also prefer the CP’s interface of knobs rather than the CS’s sliders, and I think long-term the CP will hold up better. At $360 this is almost an impulse-purchase, but I will need to decide if its non-synth sounds is not gonna bug me (I know I can always add on a synth module later on).
A couple years ago I posted a Bandcamp find for Thangorodrim, a dungeon synth artist. Since then I’ve occasionally searched for more of that kind of music on Bandcamp, and in this post I wanted to highlight my favorite artists I’ve discovered so far.
Note: along with dungeon synth, many if not most are also tagged and categorized in genres such as ambient, electronic ambient, dark ambient, medieval, medieval folk, and more!
Like any genre this is just scracthing the surface of what’s out there. Bandcamp has actually written several articles on this genre (links: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5!), and just like their other writings it’s a great way to delve deeper into this genre. I know I’ll keep exploring this unique and fascinating style of music, and perhaps one day might even try my hand at composing a track myself.
On occasion I like to listen to acoutic/classical guitar played on its own, whether it’s classical music, baroque, folk, fantasy, doesn’t matter. Recently I discovered
Łukasz Kapuściński, and the subtlely of his playing is exactly what I like. It’s also an encouragement for my own playing, a reminder that I don’t need to focus on speed, technical ability, etc. It’s more about the emotion, the atmosphere, especially that unique to the guitar.