Saturday, June 11, 2022

Tapes from The IXth Key

I consider Live Session #1 by Secret Corridor to be the best crystallized incarnation of the dungeon synth microgenre. There are more famous albums and even more beautiful ones, but this one, to me, is the one that best captures what I love about this type of music, so of course I am always interested in what the artist releases. As it appears, this person is also behind the project The IXth Key which I had already listened to a couple years ago with the Potions mini-album without making the connection.

About two months ago I was looking for a cassette from Alder Deep at Discogs and found that the seller was also offering several tapes by The IXth (among many others) and went for them since; a) these are very rare to come by; b) I didn't want the regret from not acting when I had the chance; and c) because by that time I knew that Secret Corridor and The IXth Key were the same person. Same person, similar music, right?

Here's my review.

These were released by Wrought Records as part of a limited boxset. From what I understand my copies are spares from the original run which were offered soon after the boxset release. The cassettes and cases look nice, especially when they are put together with their contrasting colors. Production is a mixed bag. While the designs are good, quality seems not have been a top priority for the jcards are are somewhat flimsy and the stickers are a bit sloppily pasted leaving peels on the sides.
Curiously, The IXth Key is not credited anywhere by text, only by its emblem. While this might confuse those who are not in the know, if Lord Orots has one of the best personas in DS, The IXth has one of the best emblems.

The artwork seems to come from the same hand. Simple, yet effective.

Aside from the physical tapes, I was lucky to receive some of the extras which were included in the boxset, for, who could have guessed that the people of Wrought would be so nice as to send these, presumably boxset-exclusive merch, to the original owner and that he in turn would pass them on to me? What I got was the patch (maybe I'll frame it), the button (which was the one that I wanted most if you would have asked me) and the sticker to Winter… along with miscellaneous items from other DS musicians including a button from Longmoan and an unopened pack of Erang trading cards.

The sound of the tapes themselves is very good. On the entry and exit points for each side however there are noticeable "plugging" & "unplugging" sounds not unlike a needle drop on a turntable which also speaks to lax quality control. The cassettes are uniformly around 19 minutes per side which leave in many minutes of blank sound. A tighter fit in tape length would've been welcome.

I'll divide the set into three groups. The first one comprises Winter, Potions and October Moon; the second, Dungeon; and the last one, Dark Ages; you'll see why.

What appears to be the general idea with these releases is an exploration of different DS styles.