I first found out about Comfy Synth through one of Bandcamp‘s many amazing write ups. An offshoot of Dungeon Synth (which I also found through Bandcamp) Comfy Synth is just what it sounds like: relaxing, synth based music, usually sounding like someone playing one of the old home organs you might see in a thrift shop or in an older family members home.
For me Comfy Synth conjures up these warm feelings of simple cottage life and memories of my grandparents when I was young. I enjoy the haziness of dreams and memories at times, and that haze seems to be one of the key appeals to Comfy Synth for me. While I have never really seen a lot of snow personally as an Austin Texas native, Comfy Synth makes me long for a snowy day in a warm cabin in the woods.
I really love how Comfy Synth taps into more of this “artificial or manufactured nostalgia”. I would describe this further as art that evokes a feeling of a past or memories that do not necessarily correspond to one’s own lived experience. I always imagine an older non-existent family member from Germany or something coming over and playing these songs for us and telling stories of the “old country”.
It’s a light and easy genre for the most part, with some exceptions like The Fairy getting a little more upbeat, and other‘s like Snowy Hill House leaning heavy on the melancholy. Usually based around a loop of 8-16 bars and often includes an A and a B section that is pretty light on the melodic complexity but it’s really about the atmosphere with this stuff. It get’s very “keyboard demo” at times, but in the best way possible.
As I mentioned earlier, almost every sound you will hear comes out of some relatively lofi keyboard. I imagine everything from the million buttoned home organs mentioned above, to the Casio arranger keyboards that collected dust in many a 90’s kid bedroom, are used to create the old school, dusty, warm feel.
In the tradition of Dungeon Synth, it seems like a great deal of the music is actually played by a person live in one take on a single keyboard, with some newer exceptions arranging their tunes for a full multi person ensemble. Also like Dungeon Synth, the music seems to be very Euro centric, and what I mean by that is that you can hear the old European folk songs, waltzes, and dances come out in a lot of these. You will also hear a lot of early 90’s RPG video game influences, and one could easily place many of these songs as overworld or town music in a Squaresoft game from that era.
The artwork is certainly something to take note of. Extremely cute and often hilarious vintage looking images similar to children‘s books circa turn of the 20th century are one favorite theme. Some images like the Grandma’s Cottage stuff looks like it is cropped right out of a Goodwill painting, and I love it. I bought the Oak in the Woods album based on the art alone.
The artist names themselves are always interesting, Albert the Spider is my personal favorite right now, but they run the gamut from silly to downright adorable with names like Grandson’s Heritage and Wholesome Family Farm. I haven’t actually looked into the artists themselves much, they seem to be somewhat anonymous from what my light Googling showed me. All or most of these releases are pay what you like, so the punk rock, DIY side of this genre I really dig.
This list includes a bunch of the stuff Bandcamp recommends with some other additions I have found on my own.
Find some Comfy Synth jams I should be listening to? Did I get something incorrect? Just let me know! Thanks for reading!
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