Radagast – Yavanna

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Artist: Radagast
Album: Yavanna

Label: Yuggoth Records
Release Date: February 3rd, 2023

Location: Leipzig, Germany


It is with great delight that I write about Radagast’s sophomore album, Yavanna.

This album was released by Yuggoth Records, an independent label helmed by connoisseurs of the arcane in Providence, Rhode Island. Those who recognize the source of their name will no doubt find this an apt base of operations for their work.

Radagast is the brainchild of Josua Karlson, a Dungeon Synth composer hailing from the verdant hills of Austria. From an early age, Karlson has been inspired by the melodies of mystical and hypnotic music as well as the secrets of the wilderness. As so many of us wish we could, he has retained the wonders of his youth and transmuted them into a formidable body of work. His love for the natural world flows freely through his music, and is steeped in the knowledge gained from his work as a horticulturist. His compositions draw heavily from the influences of the sprawling, wooded landscapes of his homeland, and the landscapes of the soul which are only partially glimpsed by the fortunate through myth and dream. This sylvan reverence is backed by a deep appreciation for his craft, and this appreciation is made apparent in the meticulous care he puts into composition and equipment. Every track on this release has been fastidiously crafted and performed using a hand selected array of hardware synthesizers and sequencers, lending an authentic, vintage feel to the sound that simultaneously harkens back to the very foundation of the Dungeon Synth and breathes new life into the genre through the innovative use of these conventional mediums.

It’s especially exciting to write about this release not only from the perspective of a fan, but as the artist behind the album cover. I had the pleasure of working closely with Josua and Yuggoth Records to capture the spirit of this album through my illustrations. It’s a true gift to have so many wonderful brains to pick when creating something like this. After countless revisions, I’m honored to have contributed something true to the album’s themes and emotions.

The entire album is a love letter to the mythos surrounding Tolkien’s work, and delves into the rich mythology of Middle-earth from the perspective of Radagast, the project’s namesake. Much like Karlson, this wizard harbors a deep veneration for wildlife, choosing to tend to the flora and fauna of the great forests of the realm rather than involve himself with the comings and goings of men. The album immediately transports the listener out of the mundane and into Radagast’s domain through the clever use of hypnotic ostinatos and dramatic ambience. It seems only fitting that a horticulturist with a practiced hand would be able to conjure spiraling tendrils, ancient trees, and rich loam in the mind of his audience so easily, but what really impresses me is the composer’s ability to infuse these natural elements with a quality hinting at something far more esoteric.

In this soundscape, the forces of nature are so overwhelming and ancient that the illusion of time seems to melt away completely. A haunting symphony tinkles from the abyssal depths of winding roots and branches. Dappled sunlight pierces the dark canopy in delicate shafts, occasionally glinting off the steel of a long abandoned axe as a soft drone reverberates among the trees. Vines clutch the bronze helmet of a dwarven hero, gently caressing the verdigris ridden segments of the fine metalwork. An overarching sense of wonder pervades the scene as mesmeric, sequenced-based rhythms wash over the listener.The cyclical quality of these melodies echo the ceaseless rhythms of nature, and within this ancient woodland, the march of centuries leaves the steadfast trees unscathed. This is a place where time warps and bends to the will of nature, where the past and future are but fleeting notions among aeon old sentinels.

At the core of this album lie the trademark hypnotic, repetitive sequences of the Berlin School of electronic music, providing a solid foundation upon which elements of contemporary Dungeon Synth, Chiptune, and grandiose orchestral soundscapes are woven together to create a gorgeous musical tapestry. This album represents a distinct break from the unyielding monotony that characterizes much of contemporary Dungeon Synth. Despite featuring repetitive melodies throughout each track, the album manages to captivate the listener through intricate composition and the use of sweeping orchestral synths to bolster each note. In particular, the track “Rise” effectively employs this technique to generate an escalating sense of tension and anticipation that remains unresolved. The result is a composition that successfully navigates the balance between consistency and dynamism, resulting in a thoroughly engaging musical experience.

In its entirety, this album presents a captivating interplay of energizing and ethereal tones, resulting in an enchanting listening experience that has left me completely ensorcelled.

Links:

Yavanna on Bandcamp

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

Spotify

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/josuakarlson/
https://www.instagram.com/yuggothrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cmunozart/



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