Beneath a “Fullmoon over Videna,” An Old Sad Ghost Haunts Our Darkened Dreams (Early Album Stream)
In 2017, I organized a year-long compilation of new dungeon synth to be featured on seasonal releases. Most of this work came from either social media solicications or through various forums where artists would organize the theme. I remember receiving submissions from the Austrian composer An Old Sad Ghost, since their tracks were particularly haunted and always made whatever compilation just a few shades darker. It has been four years since those compilations and An Old Sad Ghost has continued to haunt the world with many releases beyond what I even thought possible for an artist. I have always thought of An Old Sad Ghost as a specter that could travel throughout the years, taking up residence in different abandoned abodes. I feel I can speak for others in saying this artist has felt like part of the dungeon synth sound and scene for many years, with each of their releases being a milestone in terms of sound. Even though dungeon synth possesses a spectrum of sound, An Old Sad Ghost, much like their moniker, embraces a particular melancholy approach to fantasy ambient. Situated between mournful synth and phantasmagoric atmospheres, the sound of An Old Sad Ghost feels like it comes from a dream or nightmare. When I got a chance to preview Fullmoon Over Videna (stream it in full below), I felt like I already had so many things to say.
Before we continue, it is important to note the use of project names. An Old Sad Ghost is not only the name of the artist but one of the projects they use for different releases. A Letter For Carmilla, Blood Dwarf, Burgen, Fifth Elephant, Onion Knight, and Weißes Weib & Roter Gatte are also pseudonyms by the same artist. Each of the alternative projects has a different take on dungeon synth with An Old Sad Ghost being their central project. All of these projects and pseudonyms over the course of five years have led to a catalog of around 40-50 releases situated on one Bandcamp. This can be intimidating when looking back at previous work, as they dont follow a traditional order and all come with similar looking covers. Luckily for everyone involved, Gondolin Records has been working tirelessly to preserve the work of An Old Sad Ghost, and various alter projects in tape releases. While some are older works released, others like Fullmoon Over Videna are new, furthering the legacy from what I assume is some sort of vampire.
The name "Videna" is noted in previous An Old Sad Ghost works and refers to the place where the project began. Videna might be an actual place or just a mental space invented for the artist to construct these eulogies. Following the dissolution of the depressive black metal act Verdensorg, the artist created An Old Sad Ghost and released two releases in May of 2017. Both albums, An Old Sad Ghost and From The Tombs of Videna, are lengthy releases filled with disembodied synth over shadowy landscapes which borrowed the depressive atmosphere of the previous project just without its tortured vocals. From the Tombs of Videna specifically presented the world of dungeon synth through the lens of gothic melodrama, where each day was an overcast and the dirge of funerary synth trudged through its very streets. It was a change from the medieval warmth of other releases and attempted to drag the dark ambient and depressive atmospheres from related styles into the world of dungeon synth. Videna could be a mental home for An Old Sad Ghost, and the fact they are returning to the grim cobblestones of yesterday speaks of some grand plan of sadness and loss.
Over the course of 42 minutes, Fullmoon Over Videna presents a familiar style of dungeon synth but continually hounded by despondency and grief. In parallel to the album, over the course of these five years, An Old Sad Ghost has been continually haunted by not only emotions but other sounds and styles resulting in its music sounding more white haired and ragged in each passing iteration. It is on this new album where we see an emergence of perhaps the specter which haunts the artist. "Noble Breath of the Tomb," the album's opener, casts a long shadow over the world of Videna: its tortured vocals, which have lurked in shadows up until this point, are finally flung into the town's streets for all to hear. These vocals, which are still buried in its mix, provide a stark experience which now combines passive sadness with ghastly aggression. This emergence of sound is present throughout the release combining both dungeon synth, dark ambient, and the shadows of depressive black metal in a release which invokes madness. "Making a Conscious Choice" urges listeners to walk hand and hand with monsters as its synths feel like they are falling from trees, and “From Corrupted Tomes and Subtle Secrets'' is more of a dark ambient offering with its music actively fighting against its listeners. The album’s closer, "Sane Man, Avoid" has organ droning over low demonic vocals which are so distorted that words are utterly indistinguishable outside of the title being hammered out at the end.
Fullmoon Over Videna might seem like it would be challenging to listeners, and I am not going to assume that 42 minutes of Gothic synth would be easy for some, yet this artist is a master at making the musical experience dramatic for its listeners. Fullmoon Over Videna, much like the collected work for An Old Sad Ghost, presents melodrama in its most classical sense, where the emotions of its composers are the cast presenting a play of excessive sadness. The world of An Old Sad Ghost is constructed in a way that even someone without the knowledge of dungeon synth can have the same experience, as it is hinged on evocation of emotion and the exaggeration of experience. This record is yet another work shelved in a library on some grim cobblestone street, tucked within a town that does not exist outside of the mind of its composer.
If you would like to read from that book, please make sure to pour yourself some wine, or any suitable red liquid, in your finest goblet and sit back to "enjoy" your experience.
An Old Sad Ghost comments:
I am returning to the shallows of the city of Videna, where my journey began five years ago.
Six songs of pure melancholic dungeon synth, carried by heavy lamentation from the
morbid depths of my inner hometown.