Turkey is not known as a hotbed of dark dungeon music, but that is where Oguzhan Durukan, the artist behind new project Taurwen calls home. “At the moment, I’m the only Dungeon Synth band in Turkey,” he says, “It feels a little special.” It can feel burdensome to be a standard bearer for an entire nation, but on Taurwen’s debut, “A Wind Blows From the Mountain of Death”, Taurwen proves that he is capable of carrying these arcane traditions forward.
The release is a somber and elegiac collection of neoclassical medieval compositions. Synthesized piano and harpsichord often take the lead, while horns and strings embellish the compositions. The string synthesizers are the most expressive component and really carry the album from track to track. The arrangements skew towards the neoclassical and romantic with just enough medieval flair to keep this album in the realm of fantasy. The standout track “Hum of the Forest” features Taurwen’s former countryman Tir, who before moving to Australia, held the mantle as the most visible Turkish dungeon synth act. “A Wind Blows…” focuses on crystal clear instrumentation, with no allusion to the genre’s birth alongside the black metal scene. This is not an album of tortured, cavernous ambience. A solitary walk through the woods would be the perfect setting for this music, with leaves rustling in the breeze and the sun setting behind the hills. It’s a lonely, romantic and melancholic album.
“A Wind Blows From the Mountains of Death” is a very competent debut release from Taurwen. The project has promise and potential to expand the scope of its sound in many different directions. The contributions from Tir feel like a formal passing of the torch. “It feels a little special,” Taurwen says, “I will continue to make people feel this cold and dark atmosphere in Turkey.”