Esoteric Tapes


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Count Shrintsu – Album preview with Akashic Envoy Records

Esoteric Tapes

Due to most of the community being personal solo or duo projects, the output is pretty prolific and there’s always unique art and concepts going around. Every day I’m seeing new releases with beautifully designed cassettes that I want to own. And so I’m building a one of a kind collection for Australia, a tape collection where it’s possible that I’m the only person in Australia to own a copy of various projects and bands. It’s an exciting idea for a hobby and so I’ll be talking about it a lot on here in interviews and other features. The personal collection posts have as much info as you’ll need, I try very hard to be informative. 

So get in touch if you can put me onto some cool labels or if you wish to send your tape to be a part of the collection:

Dungeon Synth, Cassette Tapes and Currency

By CarcassBomb

Many metal fans have enjoyed Dungeon Synth and not even realised it. It’s a strange and niche sub-genre that is filled with dedicated solo projects and has been operational since the 90’s. It doesn’t always sound like metal, often it sounds closer to video game OSTs and ambient music. Sometimes it’s combined with a variety of ideas and black metal styles. Particularly raw black metal and symphonic black metal. Personally I’m excited about this genre because it ties in perfectly to so many themes I cover on Noob Heavy. It has a huge cassette tape focus and most of the music is made available for free or cheaply online – the cassettes are usually pretty cheap too.

First and foremost, the thing I appreciate about the community so far is how supportive these artists and labels are of each other. It’s all passion projects, often even on the production side of things with indie tape labels offering to dub tapes for obscure projects. Everywhere you find Dungeon Synth on the internet you will find people being very excited and supportive of it and each other. It’s a rare and beautiful thing in modern metal where over time there have become so many divides between scenes, genres and opinions. Some movements even operating entirely out of hate or rejection. Dungeon Synth however seems to operate out of a love for the creative process as well as the technical and production process. It’s a craft and historically an isolated one.

Check out my interview with Grimdor, he gave me some good places to start:

What exactly is Dungeon Synth?

It’s dark ambient music that uses the same aesthetics and themes as black metal. It’s often done as solo/duo projects and many major black metal bands have started this way, went through a phase of it or established a side project for it. There is a very clear tie between the two genres so the lines can often blurred or manipulated. The above example is Mortiis, a purely ambient dungeon synth work of brilliance. Here’s Summoning who use a similar style but add guitars and vocals to make a very distinct sounding form of black metal:

How affordable is tape collecting internationally and as a hobby?

As an Aussie I have a hard time collecting major releases from overseas as well as merch. Don’t even get me started on the shipping cost involved with vinyl and shirts. I’ve found that tapes are the cheapest and most convenient way to collect obscure international music from anywhere in the world. Starting on the local level you can find the bands putting out cassettes and usually pick some up cheap in person or with like 2 dollar shipping in-state. Buying them internationally is the minimal amount of postage because of the weight and dimension of tapes being so little. It still makes a 5 dollar tape 18 dollars for me AUD a lot of the time but CD’s and vinyls are way more pricey. There’s also subscription services available from Akashic Envy Records where you get 5 black metal/dungeon synth limited tapes a month sent out shipping included. It’s not repeating because there’s limited subs available so get in if you can. The best part about it for me is many of these bands I’m discovering and hearing for the first time ever through their cassette tape in the real world, it’s definitely a unique experience and so often rewarding. Online, I approach a lot of content with a dubious nature but I’m always excited when I’m putting a new tape in the player. More receptive.

I’m hoping to find more subscription services like this to make it easier for fellow Aussie metal heads and covering other genres. I know a lot of grindcore and old school death bands put out tapes as well as the wider black metal community. There’s this strange bubble of metal commerce that isn’t dictated by the extended metal industry in the tape community. A bubble where bands and projects that barely anyone knows about are selling out of their tapes the moment they get released. While a small sub genre, it is filled with dedicated followers who are active within the community.