Artist: Wood Archer
Album: To Pierce a Monarch
Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes
Hailing from the western coast of the United States, is the Lo-Fi Dark Ambient/Dungeon Synth project known as Wooded Archer. Marking the first full release in May of last year with To Pierce a Monarch, Wood Archer gives us a methodical unfurling of Lo-Fi Dungeon Synth composition which was recorded in a single take without the use of a midi. Equally impressive is how To Pierce a Monarch works on multiple levels; the surface-which is to say, a simple enjoyment of ambient textures as background noise, or the nuanced- a submersive, escapist window of twenty-two minutes that is only as fantastical as you make it.
Departure of the Just King begins this minimalist composition by way of a momentarily static negative space that creates an ominous feeling. Emerging from this is an equally ominous rumbling of percussion that marks a solemn time in what feels like a regimented March. By the time the synths make their appearance we are impressed upon by a feeling of supreme regality, turning the original inference of an ominous opening to one that is less severe in as much as it was an impending threat to a more dignified or exalted presence. All of this is accomplished, wonderfully enough, by the combination of simplistic delivery that is more concerned with effect than flourish of prowess, and the inferred storyline given within the track titles. This engaged sort of escapist line of creation is a sturdy hallmark of the Dungeon Synth genre and a heavy thematic element within this release; but where this release departs slightly is the fact that it can also act in neutrality.
One of the biggest accomplishments within To Pierce a Monarch is accomplishing much with very little. This entire album could be played as a soothing piece of white background noise that releases the tension of the day in much the same capacity as it can be utilized as a vehicle to daydream through its entirety. However, it should be noted that speaking of this album, as “white noise” does not detract from the impact, much to the contrary, it speaks all the better for it; an album that can be both enthralling yet unobtrusive is a rare feat, and rarer yet, places the onus of experience entirely on the listener. This creates an interesting dynamic between the listener and individual tracks, as they are not begging for attention the way some flourished trappings of the genre would, the tracks are simply present to be enjoyed in any formatting of the listeners choosing.
Despite the overall simplicity of the composition, and the unobtrusiveness of delivery, Wood Archer still manages to render moments of tension and drama throughout the album. Take for instance, Treasonous Whispers in the Privy Council, a title already brimming with apprehension; this is a track wherein the tension is derived from the minor escalation of melody. The track starts with an overtone of subtle hostility that fades into a more ethereal ease after the first minute and half, thus quelling, momentarily, the unease. The tension then begins to subtly mount as the foreboding overtone begins to creep back in, momentarily taking over the track before it fades into obscurity again. The rhythmic sort of pulsation of the ebb and flow creates a drama unto itself, that remains remarkably restrained given the effect of the piece. A similar dynamic of restrained power can be seen in the final track, The Wages of Necessity, only this time the impact comes from a prolonged exposure to an, at first, innocuous instrumental- a sort of power in perpetuity. It feels like a supplemental piece to a slow-burn horror film, and a fitting end to a thought provoking piece, as it falls off into an abrupt silence, in perhaps the most jarring aspect of the album.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting Wood Archer on Bandcamp: https://woodarcher.bandcamp.com/album/to-pierce-a-monarch