Schemer Heer: Black Metal, Film Music, or Dungeon Synth? You Decide. (Early Track Stream)
Black metal is a lot of things to a lot of people, but the idea of dungeon synth brings about a specific definition rather than a spectrum of ideas. What was once called "dark ambient side project" or "dark dungeon music" by its metal progenitor Mortiis, dungeon synth has and always will be atmospheric, dark, Medieval-and-folk-inspired music made on a stylistically-necessitated cheap keyboard (though there are the ambitious few like MalFet who go high-budget with great results). Ever the stubborn denier, Maurice "Mories" de Jong, though he has a dungeon synth project of his own (Vetus Sepulcrum), managed to find a way to be both black metal and dungeon synth simultaneously, while also being neither.
Schemer Heer, de Jong's "filmic" project, is a unique project in both scenes simply due to its approach. Utilizing a synthesizer pedal with his guitar, Schemer Heer is a black metal band in a dungeon synth and film music disguise, or maybe vice versa. It's hard to tell what exactly is this project's center, but, in that, does de Jong stumble onto something more unique than he might have anticipated. Listen to an exclusive pre-release stream of The Dragon, his Angels and the Exaltation of Death and read an interview with de Jong below.
It is my understanding that the Schemer Heer project uses unique instrumentation. What led to you using a MEL 9 synth pedal with your guitar?
I've had that pedal for quite some time now. I've used it a lot in a live setting with Seirom. I had actually never recorded with the pedal, but I was planning to do so for a long time. So I did some demoing with it and I really liked how it came out, one thing led to another and I had recorded material for a full length. It became Schemer Heer because I thought that the sound was too different to be released under the Vetus Sepulcrum moniker.
Were there any challenges in adapting to this new texture in this context?
Nope. It was actually easier than the MIDI and VSTs I use for Vetus Sepulcrum. I can do this all on guitar and I'm a much better guitar player than I am a keyboard player.
You have a penchant for featuring instruments in atypical ways, be it the bass-forward Gnaw Their Tongues or Schemer Heer's synthesized guitar. Do you often find yourself playing instruments in ways which are divergent from the standard?
I'm not sure. It probably has to do with the fact that I am an autodidact and I was never interested in copying other people's stuff. I have never, I swear, never played a cover of any kind EVE. That's just not me, so I have always really concentrated on doing my own thing. Plus I'm also very stubborn and always trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. It's a tiring way of doing things but you get 'unique' (can be bad or good hehe) results.
Do you feel Schemer Heer is unique?
Probably a bit? The chords and melodies are not unique, but the sound and context are, I think.
What makes the context unique?
Here I'm trying to do 'film music' on a guitar pedal in a very niche scene like dungeon synth, which I'm growing a bit tired of, to. I hope it gets picked up by other people, too, outside of that scene as I increasingly feel alienated.
Why do you feel alienated from the dungeon synth scene?
I don't really want to go into scene politics. Don't get me wrong, there's some great music out there, but sometimes it feels too much like a big circle jerk. There's no quality control. There's literally new projects coming out every 15 minutes. Ten tapes every day… like, try a bit harder to come up with something different and unique. There's also there's a lot of 'hey, what do you guys use to record with?', 'What do you recommend me to listen to?' No pioneering spirit. I mean: experiment, get some gear… do your own thing. The scene feels too small, if that makes sense? I also think there's very little that really stands out anymore.
Do you see yourself as a pioneer in the dungeon synth community?
Saying that about yourself makes you look like a douche, but I do think I've created my own sound with Schemer Heer. I'm not even sure if it could be called strictly dungeon synth, but I'm not really concerned about that. Schemer Heer is purely there for my love of horror soundtracks, film music in general and black metal.
Right, I would definitely not specifically call Schemer Heer dungeon synth by any measure. What process did you take to discover this new sound? Was it something you had in your head already or was it a happy accident?
I was just experimenting a bit with chords and melodies, just recording some ideas with the pedal and one thing led to another. I thought that 'filmic' sounds worked best. It was also really great to get into those kinds of chords and progressions because they are pretty different to the ones I normally use in the more traditional guitar based music I do. The whole learning process/discovering of new ways of composing was very exciting to me.
Though we've heard about your black metal and ambient influences in the past, I'm curious as to your other influences for Schemer Heer. What are your favorite soundtracks which inspired this project?
To name a few that come to my mind: "The Omen" soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, the "Conan The Barbarian" soundtrack by Basil Poledouris, "The Devil Rides Out" by James Bernard (his stuff in general), "Ben Hur" by Miklós Rózsa, "Dracula" (1979) by John Williams, and, of course, the "Star Wars" and "Lord Of The Rings" soundtracks are classics, too.
The Dragon, his Angels and the Exaltation of Death releases January 22nd on Neuropa Records.