Sunday, September 11, 2011

Til Det Bergens Skyggene - Til Det Bergens Skyggene

Til Det Bergens Skyggene's self-titled cassette is like listening to a mirage. This world is a desert for the soul, and with this work we hear strange glimmers of hope, and although we recognize that it is entirely insubstantial (like a mirage), the sense of longing for that hazy Eden grows. It is a blurry window, through which we see the lost plane of existence where we were meant to live. Perchance we are seeing through the very veil of death, which is why it sounds so terribly cold and alien. Perchance upon journeying out of our dying bodies we will leave this time of mankind's apocalypse and will once more return to the sacred circle of infinite. That's what this work seems to promise as I hear it. It is nostalgia, not simply for some music from the 90's, but rather for the very core of spirituality that all mankind is thirsting for in this age of chaos.

I must admit, it took several listens for this work to really click for me, but with each one my appreciation grows. At first I thought that there weren't enough instruments playing harmoniously and it was too improvisational, but now I realize that every note was intended, and when the hazy keyboard voices are limited to only one or two, that is not due to any kind of naive musicianship, but rather the clear goal of loneliness in sound.

Considering that the release is essentially new as I write this, it is apparent that the musician entirely understands what dungeon synth is about. In terms of capturing the lo-fi magic of vintage keyboards and recording methods, this work has found a perfect voice. To give one an idea of the sound, I'd say the closest relative would be Burzum's ambient work, very spiritual but perhaps not quite as atmospheric as those artists coming out of the Mortiis camp.

These songs sound to me like unanswered questions, which is undoubtedly why my appreciation of the work has come on so slowly. As is the case with nearly all great dungeon synth, the seemingly simplistic songwriting obscures a deep complexity of emotion, delving into an inner world that seems to have branches that go deeper than mere music can convey. It's quite difficult to explain, but right now I sense in the music something very powerful and ancient, like some pagan stone monolith. In fact I'd say all these songs sound very much like discovering a stone circle in scarcely-trod forest. Both seem simplistic, and yet if one were to take the time to sit down and try to feel from a deeper part of their being, they might begin to see a barely perceptible glow, perhaps from some fairy realm that our people have long lost contact with. I'm beginning to believe that dungeon synth is an attempt to reconnect with that indescribable presence within this modern day. I think it's something entirely outside of our ordinary experience, and I'm not sure it could ever be fully forgotten, since it might truly exist in some way that none of our objective science or logic can explain.

Then again, maybe it is simply mankind's instinct to seek magic (even if it is impossible). If so, I also believe that ignorance is bliss. If we're wrong, well, let's simply ignore the possibility that we're wrong. In that way we can create a new myth, for mankind cannot live without one. This is our chance. Support dungeon synth, especially active artists such as Til Det Bergens Skyggene, and let us work to build a new spirituality that is not some simple new age nature worship, nor frivolous morality, but rather the pure magic of the unspeakable other. We cannot underestimate the power of thoughts. We are deeply affected by things that are real, such as instinctual urges connected with survival and reproduction; it makes sense it terms of biology that we would feel such things deeply, but what does it mean when we feel things of fantasy on a similar level of intensity? Does that validate the fantasy? Does that make it real in some way that no institution of mankind can yet explain? My answer is yes.

Needless to say, I greatly look forward to any future releases from this artist.


  1. Hi, great blog you have here! Excellent in-depth analysis of a very obscure and misunderstood genre. Anyway, here are a couple of additional artists that I think are prototypical dungeon synth and should be included on your list:

    Fjelltrone (Sweden) - Info here:

    Also check this interview with him, from around 10 or 11 years ago. Interestingly, he expresses some of the thoughts and motivations behind this very personal kind of music in a way that's quite relevant to the sort of psychological genre analysis you've provided on this blog:

    Taur Nu Fuin (New Zealand) - Info here:

    These releases seem totally obscure and forgotten, but you can hear some tracks from both of them here:

    One other note: It seems that Wild Boar has another cassette available, called "The Nightshadows of the Castle". It looks to contain a couple of new tracks along with some of the material from the "Misty Valleys" cassette that's already on your list. Most of it can be heard here:

    Hopefully some of this information will be useful to you.

  2. Sorry for the late response.

    This information is very useful to me. All of the bands and albums you mention are most definitely dungeon synth and I'll be adding them to the list immediately. I am especially impressed by these songs of Taur Nu Fuin, but unfortunately the entire releases from that artist seem like they'll be quite difficult to acquire... either way, for the purposes of this blog, based on those samples, I'd say they belong on the list without a doubt. Thank you.

  3. This blog is very interesting. I'll be following it. I wasn't aware there was an entire genre similar to early Mortiis and Wongraven. I've spent a lot of time listening to Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør and Keiser av en Dimension Ukjent last year, and never met anyone who liked that kind of music. Keep up your good work and thanks for the discoveries!

  4. I agree, this blog is terrific. I've long been trying to find out what genre to class Mortiis and other medival-synth works i've enjoyed...too many were lost in the dark ambient category!

    A very enlightening blog.

  5. Any info on how to acquire this release?

  6. Releases by this artist, as well as Forgotten Pathways, seem rather difficult to come by...

  7. Most of the material I discuss here is hard to find, yes. Nothing much can be done about that I suppose, that's the nature of the genre. If you wanted to purchase the Til Det Bergens Skyggene tape however, here's the place where I got it from:

  8. Thanks very much. The sample track sounds just great. How does the rest of the album compare to it?

    I also had a suggestion for the DS list. If you're going to include Paysage d'Hiver's Die Festung, you might as well include Einsamkeit, as well. It's more dungeony, for sure, and fits the bill closely enough.

    p.s. I've started a discussion on DS over at Metal Archives. If you'd like to add anything, please do! Your input would be most welcome.

  9. To be honest, the rest of the album is fairly different from the sample song. At first I was somewhat disappointed for that reason, but after giving it more listens, it really began to grow on me more. The sample song is immediately engaging, while the rest of the album is a bit more challenging, but I'd still say it's worth it.

    I'll listen to Einsamkeit again and consider putting it on the list, however I was already quite reluctant to add Die Festung, so I might actually reconsider having Paysage d'Hiver on the list at all.

    I'll check out the thread.

  10. Voldsom has got a bandcamp page now, for those not being able to listen on cassette devices.