There is an important distinction between black ambient and dungeon synth. It’s not a large distinction but it’s still important. Dungeon synth is a dark music, with dank and shadowy themes and melodies. It primarily, indeed almost exclusively, uses the keyboard to create ther music and atmosphere. Black ambient is nearly the exact same. The themes are dark and shadowy and grim but the difference comes with the instruments and vessels used to create the music. Black ambient uses more acoustic instruments, guitars, drums, or some wood instruments as well as voices. Dungeon synth doesn’t usually use voices, relying only on the music to create their atmosphere and images. Black ambient is almost cinematic in its structure. Black ambient is a kind sliding scale of chaotic disconcordant black metal to very minimalistic and atmospheric synth. Orcburz, a project that I’ve been aware of for a while but never got around to reviewing, falls on the synth end of the scale and I can finally find a place to put this. “Hymns of Isengard” is not the latest album of Orcburz but it is my favorite.
Now the only instrument used in Hymns of Isengard is the synth so it’s a bit fuzzy on whether or not the album is raw lo fi dungeon synth or black ambient. For the purposes of the analysis, I’ll call it black ambient. Hymns of Isengard is short but highly focused. The songs are full of lo fi buzz that creates an atmosphere all its own. Albums like this are some of my favorite because the imagery is so shadowy and dark (a black heart can only find beauty in darkness after all). The images that Hymns of Isengard show the listeners are things that we are familiar with, even those that have just watched the films. Orcburz, though, removes all the light from the images that we are familiar with. This sort of polarization makes the music of Orcburz so compelling.
Hymns of Isengard is pretty quiet actually, the sounds are dark and fuzzy but they are subtle at the same time. The music is never loud or insistent, rather it’s wreathed in shadow. On the face of it, some people might lose interest in the album because it’s not overly atmospheric or boisterous but for the right person, myself included, this is a great album. I do have to wonder though, from September to November of 2016 Orcburz was able to release 4 albums but nothing since November. I do hope that Orcburz hasn’t hung up the keyboard, so to speak, just yet. Though if he has, then he has left us with some amazing albums.
Listen and support!