Nov 3, 2013

Sundaze 1344

Hello, as the sun has been coughing up one flare after another, these haven't been too worrying mind you and these were expected after all. If anything the sun had been rather quiet and speculation is, it could be we're in for another solar minimum. If that would happen we're in for some cold decades with global warming not really an issue for most humans alive today, by which time most buildings will be well insulated. So who knows the Thames might freeze over once again...


Today a second helping of the artists whose specialty it is making scary, atmospheric Halloween/gothic horror music that they call "soundtracks for the imagination" or "soundtracks to imaginary films", where the listener can picture a haunted world of their own creation by using their imagination.... ... N'Joy

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Composer/filmmaker Edward Douglas formed Midnight Syndicate in 1996 shortly after releasing a micro-budget, direct-to-video horror film called The Dead Matter (1996) which he directed and scored and would later remake.[2] Midnight Syndicate's self-titled debut album was released the following year. A majority of music on the album was written, arranged, and performed by Edward Douglas. Contributors included Scott Angus, Mark Rakocy, Dennis Carleton, Jamie Barbour, Ray Portler, the rap act Dark Side, and Christopher Robichaud. Douglas coined the term cine-fusion to describe the album. Cine-fusion is described in the album's liner notes as "a blending of movie soundtrack music and pop music... a compilation of soundtracks to movies that do not exist. The goal of the music is to stimulate the imaginations of listeners so that they are able to transport themselves to worlds or movies of their own creation."

In 1998, Douglas teamed up with gothic fantasy artist Joseph Vargo, and the two decided to create an exclusively dark-themed instrumental Midnight Syndicate album. Vargo developed the storyline and concept of a musical journey through a haunted castle, with the music reflecting his gothic artwork. Composer Gavin Goszka, formerly a solo artist in a project called Lore, also joined Douglas and Vargo in the new Midnight Syndicate line-up. Together, they created Born of the Night, a groundbreaking album that appealed to fans of gothic music, the horror genre, and haunted attractions. Douglas and Goszka wrote and performed the music on the album while Vargo served as executive producer and creative director of the project, as well as writing and performing the vocals and narrations, and designing the cover art and packaging. The album and songs were also titled after several of Vargo's most popular paintings. Born of the Night was independently released in September 1998 through Vargo's Monolith Graphics and Douglas' Entity Productions, hitting the horror market just in time for the Halloween season. It was Midnight Syndicate's first critically acclaimed gothic-horror soundtrack and proved to be an instant success, establishing Midnight Syndicate's trademark sound.

In March 2000, Realm of Shadows followed suit with the same flavor of dark instrumental music and another gothic setting. Douglas and Goszka wrote all of the music for this album while Vargo wrote and performed the opening narration and theme story. Again, the songs were titled after Vargo's artworks. Both albums were featured as official soundtracks for Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights, and used in several other major theme parks during Halloween, such as Busch Gardens, Cedar Point and Thorpe Park's Fright Nights event.

Midnight Syndicate's third gothic horror soundtrack, Gates of Delirium, was released in 2001. This time Douglas and Goszka teamed up with two members who worked on the first Midnight Syndicate CD, Mark Rakocy (graphic design) and Christopher Robichaud (vocals). Set in a Victorian haunted mental institution called Haverghast Asylum, Gates of Delirium was the first Midnight Syndicate disc to feature the fictitious Haverghast family, a theme the band would revisit on future discs such as The 13th Hour. Gavin Goszka has since called Gates of Delirium "a personal favorite" from the Midnight Syndicate library.

During the 2001 Halloween weekend, six of the band's mp3 singles were in the Top 20 for all of (#1, No. 2, No. 7, No. 10, No. 12, and No. 19) registering over 100,000 listens in three days. The title track from Born of the Night remained at No. 1 for over a week with two tracks from Gates of Delirium maintaining their positions in the Top 40 as well.

In August 2002, the band released their fifth studio album Vampyre. The vampire-themed disc was the first Midnight Syndicate disc to feature a cover designed by fantasy artist Keith Parkinson. By this time, the band's popularity with role-playing gamers who used their discs as background for their sessions had grown to where they were exhibiting at gaming conventions. It was at one of these conventions that the band was approached by designers from Wizards of the Coast. The result was 2003's Dungeons & Dragons: Official Role-playing Soundtrack, the first officially-licensed soundtrack to the classic roleplaying game of the same name. The album (whose fantasy themes were a departure from previous releases) was generally well received by music critics and the gaming community and helped the band build their following in Europe.

After successfully producing several gothic, horror-themed concept albums for Midnight Syndicate, Vargo formed Nox Arcana with fellow musician William Piotrowski in 2003.

In August 2005, the band returned to darker themes with their seventh CD entitled The 13th Hour. Featuring vocal effects by Lily Lane of the horror-rock band Lazy Lane and cover art by Keith Parkinson the disc is set in a haunted Victorian mansion and features tracks like: Fallen Grandeur, Grisly Reminder, and Family Secrets. Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994–1999) was released in 2006 and featured re-recorded versions of tracks from Midnight Syndicate, Born of the Night, and Realm of Shadows, along with some of Edward Douglas’ early horror film scores including The Dead Matter (1995)

In early 2007, the band temporarily shifted from creating "soundtracks to imaginary films" to composing music for actual projects when they completed the score to Robert Kurtzman's, The Rage and wrote music for Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 17's Carnival of Carnage. The Rage: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in February 2008. In September 2007, Douglas had returned to filmmaking as director, co-producer, and composer of an updated remake of his 1995 horror film, The Dead Matter. During this time, Gavin Goszka started a solo project called Parlormuse which featured Victorian era songs re-recorded in a modern folk rock style.

In August 2008, the band released The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates, a CD of music inspired by the themes from the new The Dead Matter movie. Midnight Syndicate's first two music videos were made for the songs Dark Legacy and Lost from the disc. In the finale of the music video for Dark Legacy, Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka are shown playing on stage at the historic Phantasy Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. It marked the first time they had played together live.

On July 30, 2010 The Dead Matter movie was released on DVD along with a Midnight Syndicate "greatest hits-style" compilation CD called Halloween Music Collection and an EP entitled The Dark Masquerade featuring gothic artist Destini Beard performing operatic vocals and lyrics to various Midnight Syndicate recordings. The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was also released on July 30. The CD featured the score by Edward Douglas, other music that appeared in the film, and several remixes of Midnight Syndicate tracks by other artists.

In August 2011, the band released its fourteenth studio album, entitled Carnival Arcane. The theme of the album surrounds a fictional turn of the century traveling circus called The Lancaster Rigby Carnival. It was inspired by research into carnivals of that time period and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. In 2012, the album won the Best CD category in the 2012 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

In February 2013, the band's song Into The Abyss from Out of the Darkness was featured as an outtro on the Misfits live album, DEA.D Alive. In 2012, the band scored the horror creature feature film, Axe Giant: The Revenge of Paul Bunyan. The film is a dark contemporary take on the legend of Paul Bunyan and premiered on the Syfy Channel in June of 2013. In July of 2013 the band released a new studio album entitled Monsters of Legend. Featuring images from Bride of Frankenstein and Werewolf of London on the cover, the album was influenced by classic Universal Monsters, Hammer Films, Amicus Productions, and Euro Horror films from the 60's and 70's as well as composers like James Bernard, Bernard Herrmann, and Max Steiner.

On September 11, 2009, AOL Radio released a list of the Top 10 Best Halloween Music CDs as ranked by AOL/CBS Radio listeners. Three of the ten CDs were Midnight Syndicate discs (Born of the Night No. 8, Realm of Shadows No. 4, and Vampyre No. 3), ranking behind Danny Elfman's The Nightmare Before Christmas and John Carpenter's Halloween soundtrack.

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One of the most pervasive things about Midnight Syndicate is the fact that they tend to appeal to the mentally astute and highly imaginative. This may largely be due to the fact that their work is crafted to incur visions that stir visionary illusions. Those who tend to enmesh themselves in literature and highbrow forms of entertainment have often found that the band is like an oasis in the dark music world of mediocrity. This reviewer must confess to lighting candles, turning off the lights and playing Midnight Syndicate in order to transform the environment to one that is conducive with allowing the freeform flow of words. For some uncanny reason, this ritual of utilizing their work as a precursor to writing anything somehow unlocks the channels between the worlds of day and night.

Many in the goth underground often eschew anything vampire related, which seems a bit absurd because had we not had the wonderful lore of Bram Stoker and many other horror writers over the last century, goth might not have ever become the musical underground force that it has. The vampire as a metaphor is rather profound as it can be utilized on so many levels. It is rather remarkable that so many simply still don't comprehend the full essence and majesty of the allegorical crux.

As with other Midnight Syndicate albums, Vampyre is also crafted to elicit mental imagery to allow the listeners to envision their own mental film. Their music is also featured in other Full Moon Pictures horror features, as well as included in a short horror film starring Alice Cooper and won an award for Best Music at New York's 2001 Spotlight On Theatre Awards.

Certainly there are other vampire themed compositions out on the market. Some with snippets of poetry between the macabre feelings, others with cheesy haunted house sound effects. Midnight Syndicate didn't resort to cheese; instead they crafted this album with the same astute attention as the makers of the score to Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was released some years back. It is this dedication and diligence to formulate nightmarish music that has brought them much acclaim through their last 3 releases as well.

Vampyre brings the listener through many layers of a storyline. We are not prompted by any spoken prose, but instead are given inflections and nuances of sound to create the wordless script, full of lushly macabre imagery. Interestingly enough, Midnight Syndicate didn't seem to resort to making a one-dimensional antagonist. The various sounds and layers that weave in between the morose feelings seems to belie a sentimental and sorrowful side that is interspersed with the decadence and depravity. Additionally, we also can envision the surrounding terrain and other characters with vivid realism. More importantly is the way these images can change with each listening.

Midnight Syndicate - Vampyre Symphonies From The Crypt (flac  253mb)

01 Awakening 4:54
02 Graveyard 2:17
03 Unhallowed Ground 3:30
04 Crypt Of The Forsaken 3:42
05 Winged Fury 5:18
06 Blackest Rose 4:23
07 Ravages Of Time 3:23
08 Catacombs 2:43
09 Unseen Eyes 1:16
10 Undead Hunters 3:18
11 Ancient Tomes 5:07
12 Dusk 1:22
13 Spectral Masquerade 2:42
14 Vampyre 6:02

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The album is designed as a soundtrack to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and was produced by Midnight Syndicate at the request of Wizards of the Coast, the company which owns the rights to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Midnight Syndicate were approached by game designers at a gaming convention where they had set up stall, and they agreed to produce the album.

After an initial meeting with Wizards of the Coast, the two members of Midnight Syndicate—Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka—were left to write and produce the album themselves. They went their separate ways and produced tracks independently of one another, but came back together to arrange the album and master the tracks. The album was a change in style for Midnight Syndicate, because it was mostly based around a fantasy feel, whereas their earlier works had been almost entirely horror-based. Artwork within the album booklet came from Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks, including works from prominent game designers such as Skip Williams. The album was well received by Wizards of the Coast, with positive reviews from music critics and the gaming community.

The arrangement of the songs does the album justice, too, in that the tracks are sorted out so as to illustrate a more complete, epic adventure of their own. This seriously helps preserve the continuous, instrumental narration of the album so that one can use it as background music for working on the computer as well as serving as the Dungeon Master of a given gaming session. Even the sound effects used in certain songs work well, from the clanging of swords in "Skirmish" to the clapping of thunder in "Beasts of the Borderlands" to the esoteric chanting heard in "Chant" and the subsequent "Craft of the Wizard." Truth be told, it's little things like this that helps getting in the spirit to either gaming sessions with friends or take it easy with a favorite fantasy novel all the way through the triumphant "City of Sails," which concludes this album nicely with its rich orchestration and outstanding composition.

Midnight Syndicate - Dungeons and Dragons (OST) (flac  330mb)

01 Prelude 2:14
02 Troubled Times 4:37
03 Ride To Destiny 4:11
04 The Fens Of Sargath 1:30
05 Descent Into The Depths 3:27
06 Stealth And Cunning 1:16
07 Behind Door #1 0:37
08 Skirmish 4:30
09 Eternal Mystery 3:55
10 Heroes' Valor 3:09
11 Relic Uncovered 1:47
12 Deep Trouble 1:48
13 Chant 0:11
14 Craft Of The Wizard 3:23
15 Beasts Of The Borderlands 2:57
16 Secret Chamber 2:04
17 Lair Of The Great Wyrm 3:29
18 Ancient Temple 2:43
19 How Strange 1:43
20 Army Of The Dead 4:08
21 Final Confrontation 4:47
22 Ruins Of Bone Hill 2:23
23 City Of Sails 3:31

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The Thirteenth Hour takes the listener on a tour of a haunted Victorian mansion, the home of the doctor who founded Haverghast Asylum (which is the setting for Gates of Delirium), "a house with a sinister history." Conjuring images of those whose souls are not at rest, Edward and Gavin have scored yet another masterpiece complete with a seamless blend of gothic themes and brooding melodies sure to tickle even the most discernable listener. Among these phantasmasonic pieces, contained herein is a cantible entitled "Hand In Hand Again", harking back to 1920 c.e. written by R. Egan and R. Whiting, as well as guest voices from Lily Lane {Madeline Haverghast}, David Jacobs Greg Ballato, and Mary Kate Douglas as Anastasia Haverghast, Edward's two year old daughter, who is the ghostly child voice on the track "Footsteps in the Dust." Both lend a degree of unearthly melancholy that eviscerates both dread and reverence.

Pounding hearts, echoing voices from the past, strings, organ, piano, sound effects, creeking doors, even the sounds of the night, graces The 13th Hour... another monsterpiece which compliments one's own Haunted House, highly recommended for Halloween, or any other time of the year when one feels like dimming the lights, lighting some candles, and letting one's imagination run wild with ghoulish delight!

Midnight Syndicate - The 13th Hour (flac  238mb)

01 Mansion In The Mist 1:03
02 Forgotten Path 1:30
03 Time Outside Of Time 3:42
04 Fallen Grandeur 2:54
05 Hands Of Fate 0:47
06 The Drawing Room 1:30
07 Mausoleum D' Haverghast 2:15
08 Family Secrets 3:07
09 Last Breaths 0:21
10 Vertigo 1:40
11 The Watcher 3:36
12 Cellar 0:54
13 Cold Embrace 3:27
14 Hand In Hand Again 1:16
15 Harvest Of Deceit 3:43
16 Footsteps In The Dust 1:51
17 Veiled Hunter 2:00
18 Sinister Pact 3:21
19 Grisly Reminder 1:51
20 Deadly Intentions 0:55
21 The Lost Room 3:22
22 Living Walls 3:30
23 Gruesome Discovery 1:29
24 Return Of The Ancient Ones 3:14
25 The 13th Hour 2:35

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Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the amazing musical education that can be had here.

I have hoped to one day try the Nox Arcana posts in FLAC. Do healthy links exist somewhere?


Rho said...

Hello Fan glad you enjoy your visits, that said had you used the search button you needen have asked- also you could have jumped one year ahead to the next halloween et presto..Nox Arcana 6 titles...N'Joy

Request said...

Please could you re-up The 13th Hour in ogg, if possible?

Anonymous said...

Might is be possible for the Midnight Syndicate to get re-upped in FLAC?

Thanks for all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the repost