Synthwave

I’m not dead! I think I’m getting better.

I’ve been somewhat busy with my RPG stuff and also now fast approaching my final exams of my training as a gardener, and so this site has fallen somewhat to the side. But there’s a good couple of topics regarding fantasy and fiction I really want to write longer pieces about. Just don’t expect them in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, I want to share my love for Synthwave. The music genre that has its own color scheme. I’m usually not into electronic music, but there are some exceptions. Even though I was born in the 80s and just young enough to not have memories of Daft Punk not yet being around, I only really started listening to it three or four years ago after Random Access Memories came out. I’m one of those heretics who thinks Human After All was their best CD to that point, but also really liked their soundtrack for Tron 2. I heard it’s not a good movie, but a great super long Daft Punk music video. I think it was that soundtrack that made me run into the soundtracks for Hotline Miami and Drive on youtube. I thought those three were neat, but that was it.

However a good time later, I don’t know what we were talking about, someone on a fantasy writing forum gave me a link to something by Pertubator, thinking I might like it. And it was then that I realized that there’s a whole genre of this music. It’s great stuff, with Pertubator and Trevor Something now being my favorite musicians.

One interesting thing I noticed was that some parts really reminded me very strongly about the music from the Mass Effect games, especially Mass Effect 2, which I think is one of the very best games of all time and my clear favorite. And also some lesser but still clear similarities with the music from Mirror’s Edge, another of my top favorite games. And then it came all together:

Synthwave is the music of Neo-Noir!

The two go together as well as they did back in Blade Runner. It’s a shared aesthetic that picks up right where Blade Runner had already been 30 years earlier. I did some looking around, and you find a lot of people saying that Synthwave really took of with Drive, perhaps the quintessential neo-noir movie of the current generation. And then Hotline Miami cemented its foothold the following year. Though that was still after Mass Effect 2, so the actual roots have to go even further back .

A place as from a dream

Recently I have been talking with my father about visiting the places where my grandfather grew up and where our family takes its name from, which now lie in Poland. Even though it’s now almost 30 years since visiting for West Germans became possible, we never did. We’re planning on making a trip next year and I plan to write a longer piece about the experience and the wider context when we return back. But it also had me thinking back to my own experiences of spending a lot of weekends and holidays as a child with my mother’s parents who lived right on the border between West and East Germany. I was only 6 when Germany was reunified, but I still have some memories from before that which now in hindsight seem hilariously absurd. One local oddity I would find hard to belief if I hadn’t been there myself.

Behind my grandparents’ house was a road that led down the hill and disappeared into the trees of the swamp. In the middle of the swamp, the road ended at the overgrown remains of a ramp. A ramp that once led up to a bridge that no longer existed. Across a small river that marked the border of the no man’s land beyond the edge of the Western World.

West Germany ends about 20 meters to the right.

And beside that ramp at the end of a road that leads nowhere, there was a lone small inn run by an old couple, the last two remaining people of a village that had once stood on the other bank. The locals from the village, who occasionally came by for a drink, called it the Russian Embassy. Since the barkeep was a Russian soldier who rather fled into exile than facing the punishment for having allowed himself to be captured alive by the Germans.

I still remember going down that road with my grandfather and getting icecream. And being told to never, under any circumstances, swim to the other shore, because the patrols were under order to shot anyone trying to escape from East Germany and you could sometimes hear mines going off in the woods across the river.

It’s just wonderfully absurd.

And I’ve heard there is a new bridge now.

So I got a new website

Yes, it’s actually completely new. Everything before this was copied over from my old one because I wanted to have all my reviews in one place.

Why a new website? Things are getting increasingly serious with my efforts to write and release Sword & Sorcery stories and I need a place where people would be able to find them and get into contact with me. Spriggan’s Den has always been primarily an RPG site and over the years it got quite messy and contains a lot of junk. There’s worldbuilding material from four different settings that isn’t properly labled in any way. From an author’s website I am expecting more and a higher standard. Tidying up that place would have been a huge amount of work and I am never a fan of removing content from the internet. There might still be someone wanting to read something again years later and I still regret simply deleting my first website about futurisitc stuff without any backups. I got a partial snapshot of the first page at the Wayback Machine and it made me realize it was quite awful, but I’d really have liked to be able to look at some of those really early reviews and read what I’ve been thinking back then. And I might always want to get back into writing about RPGs and then having lost a good portion of my old stuff would be really sad. And I might still write there about other stuff that doesn’t belong here.

So a new, tidy website that is all about the creation of stories in the Kaendor setting, general purpose thoughts about writing and storytelling, and looks and my opinions on related works of fantasy and beyond. Here it is.

(Though it still looks awful and I don’t have a proper title or adress yet.)