I've enjoyed virtually everything ElixiR has made, from the artist's lo-fi, drone-heavy early releases to the more diverse, melodic, and folk-instrument-oriented offerings on recent recordings. For a time I even considered ElixiR's Queen of the Silver Stone to be one of my favorite dungeon synth albums.
But those past recordings can all stand aside and kneel in honor of ElixiR's extravagant and endlessly delightful new creation, Le conte des trois faunes. I can hardly remember the last time I was so consistently blown away by each track on a new album – in any genre – and would probably need to go back to Lord Lovidicus' Wandervogel des Waldes to recall a dungeon synth or medieval folk album I fell in love with as quickly and as deeply as this one.
ElixiR wastes no time indulging the listener in otherworldly delights, as "La Forêt de Pawald" dives straight into a beautiful interplay of plucked strings, flute melodies, and orchestral ambience. The gentle rhythm guides the composition along in an easy sway, giving life to the imagery on the album's cover.
A series of short and perfectly sweet tracks follow, from the grand ballroom atmosphere of "Le passage luisant" and the similarly sweeping "Mélodie du vent" to the intimate, fireside feel of "Domaine du mage des forêts." Each of these tracks carries remarkable personality and is memorable in its own right, something that is not easily said of most dungeon synth -- including past ElixiR releases.
Each time I think Les conte des trois faunes will taper off or lose its momentum, the next track kicks in and I am once again enthralled. The regal, almost pompous air of "Sur un aire de domra" always captures my full attention, as does the tavern-like "Songes & souvenirs."
My love of this album is not in any way diminished by the unmistakable touch of vintage video game soundtracks lurking within each of its entries, which summons up a deep nostalgia for 16 and 32-bit-era RPGs. So the music is not only transportive to a fictional world for me, but to another time and place in my own life as well. Le conte des trois faunes is an inspired and well-rounded creation that – like all great dungeon synth and related recordings – manages to be endearingly humble. This album has been my soundtrack to early morning drawing sessions recently, and even after numerous playthroughs, it hasn't lost a touch of its magic.
Buy the album on Bandcamp