Have you ever played a role play game session and thought “That would be a great book?” If you’re RA Salvatore then the answer is probably yes, for the rest of us, maybe not. But why? Isn’t that the essence of games like that? We enact stories as a cooperative group but where does it go from there? Is it just a fond memory we pull up every so often until we completely forget about it? Nay I say! For those of us that actually play these games, they should be more than just a memory. I watch YouTube channels that broadcast MERP games, Myfarog, DnD, and the One Ring games that last for hours. As I watch I can’t help but want to create a story that surrounds these people, these places, these events. When I found the artist Elves and Dwarves, it seems like I found someone out there that sees things in a similar way. Their 2016 album Eidetic Dreams of Sentient Trees plays out exactly as if it were an RPG campaign. There are even “lyrics” that help delve the listener into this wonderful that’s been shown to us.
First, a few stray thoughts on the album. One, I feel like so much work and creativity went into the story and the music that the album cover was a bit of an afterthought. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination, it just lacks a little umph. Two, despite my misgivings about the cover art it’s spot on with the story.
I love the minimalistic sound of Elves and Dwarves. It harkens back to the days when there wasn’t a whole lot of effects and samples and the music was pretty simplistic. There’s a tremendous atmosphere with that kind of music, a byproduct almost of the synthetic sound, that a lot of complicated, orchestral dungeon synth just doesn’t have. It’s in that minimalistic sound that a grand tale is born. I’m honestly as fascinated by the story as I am by the music. I won’t review the story, I want you to read it fresh as the music plays (and I might be a little lazy here too) and allow the music to paint with your imagination.
Each song is a chapter in the tale, and in that regard each song is disconnected with the other songs. Each song is like a separate adventure session. A lot happens in each song so, even though they are short, there is a lot of emotional range. The music swells and thunders and whispers; the music hisses and boils with tension and excitement, adventure and terror.
I loved the album, I love the lo fi, minimalist sound that allows the listener to paint such an amazing world and landscape that the artist trudges through. I hope I come across a lot more albums like this, where the artists detail adventures in new, wild, and wonderful worlds based on RPG sessions. Elves and Dwarves are the first ones I’ve come across that did it, though I’m sure it’s been done before I just haven’t found the projects, and therefore everything I hear is going to be measured from them. Give them a listen and tell me what you thought of the adventure.
Listen and support the music!