Another year comes to a close and that means lists. I never really get excited when the prospect comes around because a list is never as complete as you’d want it to be. In a way, it’s a moments recollection of all the good music that came by in the past year. Still, it’s important to look back and share with the world what it might have missed otherwise.
I can mention a load of bands I would gladly have included here. For example, I didn’t really get around to listen properly to Enslaved and Converge’s new records and I had to chose to omit the likes of Power Trip, Akercocke, and Pillorian. Oh, and Dool came to me in a big way. Well, you can’t have it all, but here is the list as it is:
- Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Ceasar
- Amenra – Mass VI
- Jupiterian – Terraforming
- Au-Dessus – End of Chapter
- Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
- Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
- Fief – III
- King of Asgard – :taudr:
- Al Namrood – Enkar
- Eschatos – MÆRE
- Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre
- Ragana – You Take Nothing
- Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
- Spaceslug – Mountains & Reminisce
- Grima – Tales of the Enchanted Wood
- Myrkur – Mareridt
- Hair of the Dog – This World Turns
- Botanist – Collective: The Shape of He to Come
- Cyaxares – House of the Cosmic Waters
- Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial
I would also like to express thanks to the labels that have kindly supplied me with promo materials and support for realizing my goals. In particular thanks to Transcending Obscurity and Qabar Extreme Music PR. Also, thanks to Echoes & Dust for lending weight to my 195 bands project, by publishing these interviews.
May 2018 be a great year in music again. Live long and prosper.
Origin: United States
Fief seems to generally have been hailed as the new king (or kings) of dungeon synth. Maybe that’s a stretch to state, but the releases of this unknown outfit are much adored in the genre. Now Fief returns with their third offering of folky music and it seems to have even gotten better on ‘III’.
The artist from Salt Lake City in Utah makes what I consider the best bit of dungeon synth, due to its particular foresty sound. There’s a lightness to Fief, a peaceful joy, and gentle vibe. It’s the thing we often lose when we stop reading books and playing video games that beckon.
On this record, a new layer appears in the music of Fief. The sound becomes richer, fuller and all without ever losing the tranquility of early digital worlds. Remember those video games, where you could walk around rather peacefully? Or build your own settlement without the pressure of time and resources? I always enjoyed the calm and peace of those and I find them in this music.
Listening to the music brings you to that state of reverie. Of simply allowing the tones to wash over you, calm you down. There are two layers of music, dancing around each other in a swift-paced dance that fits best in a tavern or an inn for your RPG game. It’s never overly present, but also interesting enough to capture your ear. It’s just so darn pleasant.
Origin: United States
Dungeon synth is a genre with a spectacular variety, but sometimes you find true gems that stand apart even it this genre. Fief dropped two records in 2016, which both are completely out of this world. For lovers of fantasy and dreamy realms, this is the right soundtrack.
Whether you’re a dungeon crawling role player or an obsessive high fantasy reader or even an oldschool gamer, this should fit right in there. The simple, synthy sounds are playful, merry and have the natural feeling of a soundtrack. Oh, a bit of history. A fief used to be the word for the reward vassals would reap from serving their lord. It could com ein the shape of land or peasants. The fiefdom would be the vassals realm.
So that explains why this sounds so much like medieval music. You picture yourself on a sunny day in the village or the forest, with bright, twinkly sounds. A harpsichord is ever present in there and it just feels so close to a folky ensemble playing a jam, that it becomes so tangible. The charm is that it is still different, not natural, which is the feeling I get in my D&D games. There’s a construction taking place, of cold, ancient walls, overgrown ruins and peaceful cottages.
For Fief the playground is not the dungeon and the looming threat, it’s the blissful spring in the village. The sound is well composed and balanced, not just a guy jamming on a keyboard. It seems that the force behind Fief knows his music and manages to create tunes that keep you listening, while holding to the continuity of soundtracks (for example, I tink of the old Lord of the Rings RPG on the SNES or the Zelda games).
Fief makes colorful, lively music that I completely adore. Check it out for yourself! (also listen to I) it’s pretty too. For Fief there are no dungeon walls, just the sunny forest.