THE WANDERER – Journeys In The New North (DAP070)
The debut full length release from new Swedish artist The Wanderer features 12 tracks of epic dark ambient dungeon synth.
Pro-tapes with frost blue shell cassettes with sunrise gold ink imprint and two sided full color Jcard.
Limited to 100 copies.
Includes The Wanderer logo pin.
“The Wanderer – Journeys In The New North
Dawn In The Forest
Wherever he found himself in the world, The Wanderer would always try to make time to witness the sun rise, more-so when travelling in new lands, and the wooded hills of West Norlend were most certainly new to him.
Although reasonably well mapped for two or three generations now, the peninsula was considered wild and untamed before ‘The Great Expansion’. The denizens of the Kingdom of Esservald had spent many hard years recovering from the long war with the Southern Hordes and so had little means or reason to build on its cold northern coast. Now, in times of peace and prosperity, towns rapidly sprung up wherever the settlers could reach. Great roads carved their way into the countryside, veins of civilization pumping life to new extremities.
West of the town of Dralden, and facing further west, The Wanderer sat at the edge of a forest clearing, the cloud-spattered sky slowly turning from nightly hues of dark blues to warmer gradients. A lone tree in the centre of his view eclipsed the brightest point on the horizon, as he waited patiently for the golden wheel to present itself and bring warmth to the chilled autumn air. A grateful smile crossed his face as he muttered words to the morning, welcoming the sun whose light now touched his skin. A chorus of birds continued this salutation, as The Wanderer returned to his bedroll, packed his possessions and strolled deeper in to the woods…
With a vigorous stride, he ducked branches and clambered over moss-clothed stones until he was deep enough into the forest to see almost nothing of the sky above. There was a certain feeling there, one of being surrounded by life, a calm yet vibrant energy. He slowed his pace and attuned himself to this feeling, navigating his way between the old trees, searching.
Mushrooms! Hundreds of them carpeted the ground around him, more than plenty to gather for breakfast and the days ahead. Not that he had a plan as such, more of a rough idea, one to aimlessly journey the hillsides and ponder future direction. The nomadic life had always suited him, but if the rumours he had heard of the Kingdom’s ambitions to sprawl itself all the way to the shores of The Uncrossed Sea moved as quickly as he feared, there would be little true wilderness left soon enough…
March Of The Essermen
The day had begun early for others on the peninsula too; some miles away in a makeshift camp, horns sounded. Helmets were equipped and horses mounted. The Essermen, the King’s company of law enforcers, rode out.
The Wanderer’s thoughts were interrupted by this distant commotion. Jolted from his reverie he hurried back towards his dawn viewpoint, to find its source. From there it was easy to see the smoke of the recently extinguished campfires snaking slowly to the sky. He thought it odd to see Essermen banners in these hills, there were so few people settled here or working the limited areas of arable land.
Sighting the lone figure on the hillside, the riders diverted towards him, horses trampling the long grass beneath them. Before he had a chance to consider the meaning of their presence, The Wanderer was surrounded by eight men, each well armoured in chain and helmets adorned with the red backed golden fist crest of the Kingdom. They dismounted simultaneously, the clanging of metal reverberating from all angles, a swirling wind accompanied them…
A Hillside Confrontation
The Wanderer turned a full circle, calmly introducing himself and explaining his presence, trying to gauge which face was the one of authority and preferably of kindness. He found little of the latter.
Although only their eyes were visible over their covered faces, the men showed no sign of emotion and responded in short shouted sentences. They spoke of new laws coming to force. This land was soon to be required for the Kingdom, for wood and stone, and all such resources that could be gathered. Those found living here were to be taxed by the realm or face arrest for obstruction of the expansion of the Kingdom.
There was no talking his way out of this, the terse tone of the Essermen suggested they already had a preference for the violent option, and their hands on their weapons made it abundantly clear. The Wanderer began to edge backwards when a large shield thrust into the back of his head, flinging him forwards to the ground. Two men from each side took the opportunity to tear his backpack from his person, sending clothes, pans and the gathered mushrooms scattering. The largest man faced him with sword in hand, but chose to kick swiftly to the stomach. A fisted blow then struck across his face, and although he tried to stand and offer a defence, the endeavour was useless. He fell face first at their feet, and drifted out of consciousness…
An Unwelcome Valley Journey
The percussive ensemble of horse hooves and cart wheels filled The Wanderer’s ears as he slowly came to. His whole body felt sore and his stomach rolled as he forced himself to sit up and take in his new surroundings. Two sullen looking men sat facing him from a bench opposite, a woman to his right lay motionless, feet pressed into his hip. The cart had one small window at the front and one on the door at the rear, iron bars breaking up the view outwards. Behind he could hear more horses and carts, although exactly how many he couldn’t tell. With a grimace he stood up, hoping for a better view from the front. The contour of the horizon was recognizable and even the gold tinged leaves of the trees looked familiar, they couldn’t have traveled far from the site of his confrontation.
He tried in vain to ask his fellow prisoners of their whereabouts, but neither responded to his hushed questions and looked nervous at his doing so. The Wanderer sat back down and sighed as he leant his head back on the wood behind him, eyes still fixed on the slither of blue and green outside. The journey was far from smooth; they wound there way along unpaved paths, all the while heading on a steady decline. With that he reckoned they must be heading along the valley to Dralden…
The Grand City Of Dralden
His assumptions were confirmed many hours later, firstly by the direction of the lowering sun, and shortly after by the faint sounds of city life. The road had become stone, the vicinity was filled with the noise of farm animals and conversations he couldn’t quite make out. They passed under an outer gatehouse, and into further hubbub. Bells rang, blacksmiths could be heard at work, and rabbles of people conversed on every corner.
Cities had always made him feel uneasy, but there were certain grandiose qualities to them that had to be admired. On his last visit in the spring Dralden had been at most half the size. Now in such a short time it had grown dramatically; colourful multi-story households filled every street and marketplaces sprawled over every square.
When they eventually rolled to a stop, the door of the cart flung open and they were hastily ordered into a line on the cobbled side street. At least another two dozen people stood alongside him, maybe more, all of whom looked beaten and broken. Directly in front, a huge castle wall faced them, and behind that a polished stone keep, evidently another swift addition to this new grand city of the north. One by one they were forced through a small door in the wall and down some stone steps. Here, beneath the fortress, was an endless labyrinth of corridors, all filled with prison cells. The Wanderer was thrown in to the first empty one they came to, and the door slammed heavily shut behind him…
The Loss Of Hope
Frustrated and confused, The Wanderer assessed his situation. The cell was small and empty. Damp stone walls surrounded him in every direction except for a tiny hole high up in the ceiling, allowing some light, but mostly the smell of the drainage, through from above. He could hear other cells being locked, guards returning up the stairs, but no conversations. At no point had anyone offered any further information on the nature of his incarceration and so his thoughts raced around all the possibilities. Would he be trialled? Were his cart companions here for the same supposed crimes? How long would he be here?
Alone, he had nobody to ask such questions but himself. Tired equally from his frantic pacing around the cramped room and his overactive mind, he slumped into a corner. So much had changed on this day, with little sign or warning. He felt hope slowly leaving his body…
Alone And Forlorn
Days went by, and soon weeks turned to months. Every one of which the same; a monotonous routine of something resembling breakfast thrown to his cell, daylight hours hearing the tortured cries of nearby cellmates, and the eventual welcoming of sleep again. At least in nightmares it was harder to notice the cold. Winter had firmly taken its grip, and there was nothing more than hay to lay upon.
Negativity seeped in to his every thought, there was no means of escape though he dwelled on it incessantly. The same four walls taunted him every day, mocking his lack of freedom. The sewer hole dripped filth with disparaging consistency.
Having wandered on the fringes of the kingdom for most of his life, The Wanderer didn’t have the best grasp on their ways and workings, but he had never known them as a ruthless people. Something had changed during their great expansion, something sinister, something he could no longer choose to be free from…
The Wanderer unwillingly woke himself up with a shiver. He gathered his senses and looked around. Something felt different this morning. The air tasted clearer, and an odd blue shaft of light shone down from the hole above.
Suddenly, there was great commotion outside the cells; the crack of broken wood, the rhythm of someone falling violently down steps. Everything moved quickly from there. His cell door burst open with a flash, but whoever did so had quickly gone on to the next. The Wanderer instinctively rushed for his escape as fast as his deteriorating muscles would allow. Outside he bumped in to other hurried prisoners, all rushing to the city’s surface.
The dimly lit streets were still silent as everyone darted between alleyways, the only direction being forward, away. It didn’t take long to reach what was the northern wall and flee beyond that. The haggard group sprinted as far as they could before surrendering to their lack of breath, slowing as they distanced themselves from civilisation, until they could stop at the forest edge…
Dance Of The Aldra
In the stillness before dawn, between the dew-glossed leaves, the escapees glanced around the exhausted faces, looking for that of their mysterious rescuers. Emerging from the trees were three figures. Their features were thin and delicate, a strongly defined elegant structure not inhuman but unfamiliar. A faint shimmer seemed to follow behind their every movement, a cold light between blue, purple and green, an ever changing ethereal glow.
“We, are The Aldra.” They whispered together in an odd accent that lingered in the air with reverberating overtones. The name meant nothing to anyone there, perhaps something from a far continent. But there was something in their calming manner that facilitated trust. Beckoning for the fifty or so people to follow them, they delved deeper into the woods.
The sound of music gradually filled the morning air, and one by one more Aldra appeared from the undergrowth. Some played unusual wind instruments, others had simple percussion and bells. Sounds and bodies flowed together between the dense wood, lifting the spirits of those who had newly found freedom. Time seemed to pass swiftly as they walked for several tens of miles until the trees thinned and they reached the coast…
In the final light of the day, the group came upon the shoreline, lined with several long ornately carved boats. Oarsmen sat waiting within them and voiced greetings to their kinsmen. The discussions on whether the rescued folk should leave with them were resolved quickly. A small group fancied their chances remaining on the run, they figured by heading east they could reach the mountains and perhaps outrun the King’s new tyrannical rules of the land.
Those that remained chose to board the boats with the Aldra, putting faith in their apparent ability to traverse The Uncrossed Sea and offer them a new home. Even if it was a temporary solution, The Wanderer deemed it necessary and internally appealed to his forgotten sense of adventure. The Aldra had explained a little of their home land, claiming it to be far north of Esservald. They told of a cold, vast and sparse land, but one that provided for them well. One question they did not answer, was why they had rescued the prisoners from Dralden. They spoke only that they had been observing events, and took issue with the Kingdom’s recent ways.
After such an eventful day, rest seemed more welcome than answers. The Wanderer lay wrapped in blankets on the deck of the boat as they rowed further out to sea. Calm waves lapped at the hull and the clear night sky was speckled with a thousand stars and the radiant full moon. It felt good to breathe the sea air, sleep came easy…
The Wanderer awoke to the gentle creaking of the boats being moored in icy water. He gathered his bedding closer and stood up, drinking in the strange new scenery around him. The horizon was full of colourful aurora, dancing across the starlit skyline and painting scenes of beautiful mystery. In the distance small mountains embraced ancient glaciers. The snow and ice glistened so brightly he thought he could hear it. Stepping off onto the small pier was like arriving in another world; a new north.
He was fascinated by the contrast of the beauty above the cold barren land below, it was like nothing he had experienced. The atmosphere seemed to both confront and comfort him simultaneously, every breath of glacial air was an invigorating awakening for his lungs. The events of the last months appeared frozen in time behind him, and as he took each snow crunching step across the landscape he felt more unburdened.
The Aldra were welcoming but aloof, allowing their new guests plenty of time to themselves. Days and nights seemed very different here, but the hosts would leave for many of them at a time, returning seemingly as rested as when they departed. The Wanderer couldn’t even be sure what directions they left towards, his internal compass confounded by the cold white glow every way he turned. This didn’t unsettle him, rather help let the recent troublesome realities fade into obscurity.
Here, in these unknown realms, The Wanderer would stay with the Aldra. At least for now, whilst he reassessed the state of the world, and his place in it… “