Friday, November 1, 2013

Retiring the List

The era of my list, in its current exhaustive incarnation, is now over.  I will probably replace it with a list of what I consider to be quintessential dungeon synth records, the best ones to start out with, or simply the ones that I feel deserve attention, but I will no longer be an archivist of ds.  That was originally part of the intent, but that was when I thought that this was essentially a dead genre, and that there would be a point when I'd have to barely update it at all.  Clearly that's not the case.  But my main goal with the list was merely to establish what I considered this genre to be, and I think it served that function long ago.  The right people are all in pretty solid agreement on what this stuff is.  Of course there was also the value in it that allowed folks to discover obscure and forgotten works, however I think that is better served through an organic process such as reviews.  That way, as well, people won't be bombarded by a massive amount of forgettable redundant slush.  Just because something belongs to a genre doesn't mean it's worth listening to.

More personally, it just takes the fun out of it for me.  I'm beginning to get uncomfortable spending most of my dungeon listening time drawing lines in the sand.  I'm too biased, not a particularly great authority (in terms of black metal scene experience), and it takes me too long to properly digest records.  Also, it has become easy for me to just toss truly notable albums on the list and think that my job is over, without giving it a review or saying any words on the album at all.  Without the list I'll feel more obligated and enthusiastic to give these works their deserved attention.  And I'll feel more free to speak my mind, to be more critical about albums, since I won't feel like an official representative of dungeon synth, a spokesperson persuading the uninitiated.

Besides that, it is just somewhat presumptuous for one person to act as an arbiter for a genre.  Everyone should be deciding what does and doesn't count as dungeon synth.  So anyone is free to take the list, change it in any way (or not at all), and post it anywhere.  I don't need any credit.  I'm going to delete it from the blog in probably a month or so.

I feel more comfortable stepping back from this position now that other voices are speaking on the style.  If you're unaware of them:

Dungeons of Darkness Magazine - I mentioned this a few posts back.  It's great work, a more traditional zine format.  There's a lot of in-depth content and it's absolutely worth checking out.

The Dungeon Grimoire - A new blog that popped up a few months ago, with a writer who seems to have an endless well of enthusiasm and is quite prolific in his posting.  Very good stuff, and covers a wide territory.

Dungeon Synth Facebook - To be honest I haven't been keeping up with this page, and stumbled on it again in the process of writing this post.  It looks like something that we all should be keeping up with.  

Dungeon Synth VK - This is the Russian dungeon synth community that has been around a while now.  It is a bit difficult for English speakers to navigate, but it's well-worth using one of the internet's free translation programs, since it has by far the most content of any ds page.

Winter Synth - Not many posts or very active, but what has been posted is high quality and covers a neglected gap in the black metal related ambient genres.

Asmodian Coven - Doesn't have a dungeon synth focus, but often posts very obscure and hard to find (or even discover) works in the style.  Was around long before my blog, and should be a cornerstone for anyone into obscure black metal-related music.


I know that the list was probably the main attraction of this blog, so perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot.  But anyways, without the list taking up my time (or more like avoiding it), I should be able write here more regularly.  I intend to post around this time every week from now on, so be sure to check in.  

Thanks for reading.

14 comments:

  1. I don't think you should delete the List page from your blog, Andrew. Why not keep it online, in its "final" form? It's a great archive and it should not be lost, even if you decide to abandon it.

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    1. I don't think the list will be lost when it's deleted from the blog. I imagine there will be reposts, or maybe at least some alternative offered on one or two of those other pages. But sometimes burning bridges is the best way to move forward, and I think that's the case here, for the blog as well as the genre.

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    2. I understand. I will keep up the list as you left it on my blog then, and maybe add things if I see fit.

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  2. I understand your decision and the reluctance to be a representative of sorts. And with the sudden emergence of numerous artists calling this their genre maintaining such a list is quite a hectic task instead of peaceful, archaeological dig you originally envisioned it to be.

    Anyways, looking forward to more excellent reviews and possibly other features here. And it would be neat if you continued the Honorable Mentions.

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    1. I'm glad you see it from my point view. I might continue the Honorable Mentions. I have a lot of ideas for new kinds of posts now that I don't feel as confined by my position.

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  3. The list is useful and I like it, no doubt at all, but don't worry about deleting it: the main attraction of your blog are the words "dungeon synth". And if this decision makes you feel obligated or more enthusiastic to write reviews, so it's welcome. Keep up the good work on this great blog.

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  4. Dude, there is no need to delete the list. Just leave it like that, things don't need to be constantly uploaded in order to be functional. That kind of thought is obsessive and dangerous.

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    1. I'm deleting it for more than anxiety about discontinuing updates. A large reason for all this is that I'm starting to strongly suspect that a comprehensive list is dangerous for the health of the genre. It elevates mediocrity.

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    2. Why do you think it would be dangerous for the genre?

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    3. Because it elevates mediocrity. People shouldn't be encouraged to listen to the boring and pointless dungeon synth works just because they're dungeon synth. It turns away new listeners and sets the bar too low for current and future musicians. That approach might flood the genre with as much uninspired garbage as underground black metal today.

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    4. Oh I see your point and I understand it perfectly. See, just yesterday I downloaded every single album available in the list so that I wouldn't miss any of them, but I see most of them are not quite good. Of course there are great stuff too, but there are some that simply don't deserve to be listed.

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  5. I think this is a good call - your blog did important work in naming the genre (as far as I can tell you are the one who coined the term "dungeon synth") and compiling the initial list and convincing people to treat it as a genre in its own right and inspiring the subsequent work by the people you link, and you can be proud of all that, but at the same time it shows a particular strength of character to say "Actually, I'm not the Pope of dungeon synth, I'm just some dude who writes about it on the Internet".

    Stepping down to be one more voice in the crowd is tough but it's also something that needs to happen if the dungeon synth community is to be an actual community rather than a flash in the pan inspired by the blog, and you sound much more relaxed and natural in this post than earlier when you were trying to convince people to pay attention to this stuff in the first place. Recognising that the mission is accomplished and you can now step away from some of the responsibilities you took on and enjoy the fruits of your work is a good thing and you should be applauded for it. Kick back, listen to some good dungeon synth (and maybe write about it), and don't feel obliged to waste your time on mediocre works simply for the sake of maintaining an encyclopedic overview of the genre - you've earned it.

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  6. sounds like a wise decision.

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