Artist: Lye the Imprisoned
Album: The Tales of the Frog King
Label: Dungeon Squid Productions
Country: United States of America
Written by Aaron Michael Kobes
Emerging from the bogs of some long ago time. Armed with artful progressions that range from dreamy comfy synth, complete with the chirpings of insects, amphibians and the bubbled churnings of water being swam through, to the archaic and at times imperious tonalities of traditional dungeon synth, the combination of both giving us an overarching neo-classical theme. Lye the Imprisoned’s, The Tales of the Frog King takes the listener on a journey of what feels like a king emerging from the safety and comfort of his kingdom to come into his own, much like the artist has in this effort. From earlier recordings on various splits and the EP, Corpse Candles, we caught glimpses of what this artist may be capable of. With the release of this LP however, it is clear that there is a coherence being sought in advancement of these tracks which aims to sink the listener down deep into the lovely mire of escapist music. So much so, that when the thematic tone shifts partway through the album, the listener wonders how they got there, and once again when we are returned from whence we came at the albums conclusion.
Lye the Imprisoned starts off The Tales of the Frog King with the track, “Of Subterranean Inhabitants”, animalistic samplings of bog or swamp life are undercut with sounds of water lapping along muddy shores. It is not long until we have a regally musical introduction of a marching drum beat accompanied by horns that gives the listener an impression of a king’s entrance, or perhaps exit, as is inferred by the tracks ending and the second tracks beginning, leaving behind the sounds of life in the bog. “A Crimson Candle” starts much more introspectively, with haunting chimes and drawn out synth chords that quaver beneath what sound like electronic marimbas. This is then layered under a restrained harpsichord and yet further layered under a beautiful and swaying string melody. If this sounds like a tedious listen, it is anything but, as Lye the Imprisoned builds and layers these sounds with such nuance and skill that it draws the listener further into the track in an almost hypnotic way, as if beckoning us from our home or wherever we find comfort, and further into a place of unknown wonderment. This illusion is momentarily shattered however, by the splashing of a gong that would be perhaps better served on the following track as a transition into the more severe tones. The layered technique is pulled into the third track,”The Well at the End of the World”, and beyond, pushing forward with these tonal elements from previous tracks that serve as a through line, adding to the thematic cohesion of the album over all. This track also features some Backmasking to compound the dream-like quality of atmosphere that has been cultivated thus far and adds to the wistful and dreamy style so familiar to comfy synth. These tonal elements then shift in the following two tracks, “An Altar of Foolish Wishes” and “Ingratitude is the Reward”, to a more traditional Dungeon Synth style while holding to the overall thematic element. The former being the crescendo of the album, while the latter blends the ethereal quality of the opening tracks with the bright, yet heavy synth melodies that are found throughout early and relatively recent genre greats such as Pazuzu and Hedge Wizard, as the album marches towards its conclusion as if in triumph of a victory won. “A Place Where There Were No Graves” closes out the album with a simple yet contemplative sampling of the life in the bog we emerged from at the beginning, giving the listener a feeling of reflectivity and completeness.
The tales of the Frog King certainly is a victory for Lye the Imprisoned. The victory of course being the amalgamation of styles in complement to the greater purpose of the album, which is to present the listener with something different and new from the familiar and antiquated. It is an enchanting piece of work that treks us across both an implied journey with our titular hero and across two seemingly dissimilar sub-genres, to arrive at a third, the neo-classical, that is the conjoing of the two by way of encompassing theme. Lye has walked us on a trail that has been tread before to be sure, but like with so many trails laid before us by other artists attempting to do something similar, it remains a trail hard traveled; with brambles and footfalls aplenty. That is where The Tales of the Frog King glistens, like our good kings skin, the trail may not be perfect, as they seldom are, but this time it has been lovingly cleared and tended to so that we may return to walk it again and again, discovering new comforts as we do.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Lye the Imprisoned on Bandcamp: