Gopher alert! Anyone old enough to have caught my last twitch stream will remember Sherkel’s Concealed being the big surprise in the NRG section of the set, and it’s happily included in this excellent four track bandcamp release. The long, atmospheric breakdown means it should be used with care in a tracklist, but if I was still doing the ‘top 3 tracks’ roundups at the end of the year, it would most definitely make my list (even if I happened to ‘do a GULD’ and put Cyhyraeth in there too).
Although Concealed is my favourite track of the release, you’ll also find some of Sherkel’s finest hybrid freeform-NRG to date. Vampire Hunter is a superb mashup of filtered riffs that absolutely captures the ‘strangeness’ I’ve talked about before in some Finnish and Japanese tracks. If anything Lunar Typhoon is even more driving, upping the rapid melodies alongside some (slightly) less heavy filtering.
Hamehorinezumi no Yoru is fairly sedate by comparison, but another fine Einhander-influenced NRG track. There are some lovely, unusual touches in both the melodies and percussion here, though the hugely atmospheric outro is possibly my favourite section.
Kontraption of Death very highly recommended, and is a free release on Sherkel’s bandcamp.
It’s looking like the scene has woken up a bit again, led by this recent, big release from Artificial World. A first glance had me thinking this was very much on the melodic side and I wouldn’t find much that suited TYFTH, but I’m glad I paid more attention as there’s all sorts happening here, from the expected UK-influences to more ferocious high bpm sounds, via a couple of impressive deeper sounding tracks that have a Nomic feel to them.
It’s the latter that really caught my ear, chief among them Ikura’s Breathe Out. It’s such a fine line for me these days between a Nomic-style emotional track and the moment when the melodies go that bit too UK-happy, but this track keeps the balance about right, with the melancholy breakdowns a highlight. Ri-energy’s Ordeal is in a similar vein, with repetitive melodies and a great atmosphere, even stepping things up a couple of levels for the final, beautiful breakdown. My first couple of listens have me a concerned for the lack of weight in the kick and bass, but I’ll be keeping this one in mind for sure.
The rest of the ‘slower’ freeform has some very well produced material, my favourites of which would definitely be Hypersonic and Lamia, while polaritia’s track is the high bpm highlight for me. A mention for the chirpy A Little Bit Adventure, I quite enjoy this sort of electro-y freeform now and then. Believe or not I can imagine GULD really liking the breakdown – it hits the sweet spot now and then between uplifting and melancholy that he would occasionally fit into a set.
There’s lots more going on obviously, so check this release out for yourself and show it some support. I probably should have mentioned earlier how great it is to see some new/unfamilar names on the tracklist, as well as the pleasing combo of old and new styles. Very recommended.
Thanks to Shimo (again) I’ve learned of another quality older track that surely would have appeared in my sets if I’d known about it earlier. Thanatos’ Flashback is a real oldie, released on the Hardcore from S. Iemitsu compilation in 2006.
It’s got that melancholy-but-uplifting feel of some older Japanese freeform, and I could definitely see it fitting into one of my modern sets, maybe linking nicely with some darker Twisted Freq or Re-form.
What’s this, another recent set to check out? Hedonistik Ritual is now settling into a schedule with his Hard Tranceformers podcast, a hugely impressive two-hour session of trance up to freeform. I’m biased this time, but even as someone who doesn’t care much for (non Goa) trance or hard trance these sets are excellent. Enough variety to keep anyone interested, and some quality track introductions and other info from Hedonistik while he plays.
This time it’s Cyhyraeth that made an appearance in a set – superbly mixed in after Powers Beyond(!) and followed by Drug Abuse, something I never would have imagined. Aside from being played at an in-person event I can’t imagine there are many better feelings than hearing another DJ do something creative with one of your tracks, so this was a real treat. Special thanks to Hedonistik for the kind words while introing the tune, and extra kudos for nailing the cyhyraeth pronunciation.
Early impressions are that these podcasts are (unsurprisingly) getting a wider listening audience than the usual freeform veterans, making them a fine entry into our reawakening scene for trance/hard trance fans.
Time for a belated look at another Asukarai Matsuri set, again a pretty fascinating look at how a talented newcomer to the scene approaches the NRG and freeform back catalogues. This is a great hour of freeform, and very recommended even if you’ve heard most of the tracks a million times before.
The track selection definitely reminds me of my own early days, with some of the all-time classic melodic tracks alongside more aggressive sections. Global Killer – Tuonela is a fine start, but it’s probably the next section where things step up a level. A darker atmosphere moves smoothly into Voices of Babylon, followed by a very impressive stretch of filtery melodic tracks. It obviously made my day to hear Hell’s Gate, especially as the transition into Morokai is one of the very best of the set. The finale is a classic dancefloor-friendly bpm increase, nicely done here with some Lost Soul and Nirotiy, before Hydra deepens things at the finish.
Overall another excellent set, and what it lacks in unified atmosphere from start to finish it makes up for in quality track selection. With literally a few hundred classic tracks yet to appear in his sets, I’m looking forward to AM’s next tribute to the golden age.
I was listening to Proteus’ Hard NRG V recently, and Lou Cypher Project’s Plague jumped out me as one of those nice early-era NRG tracks. It turns out that Lou Cypher Project’s are all available on their SoundCloud, with 7 or 8 in the Weirdo-esque style of Plague. My favourite is The Next Level, as its harder kick and low-end heavy synths could still do the job in a Hardcore for Life style set. Old news for many I’m sure, but check these out if you’re in the market for some retro NRG.
Belated shout out for a rare Asahi mix that’s worth checking out for lots of reasons. He’s got such good taste in NRG that it’s always nice to hear one of his sets, and while this one sounds a bit rusty in places there are some top class track combinations that I enjoyed a lot.
I somehow completely forgot about Mask Man, and here it shows what a strong track it is by combining excellently with Lush. I must admit that I zoned out a little once the UK freeform kicked in, but saying that Krater is a quality transition track that could come in handy for a lot of DJs.
The big showstopper for this set has to be the inclusion of an unreleased Booty promo, a superb track with an odd, experimental atmosphere. I wish I could hear more of these, as they make you realise how much influence might have had on the other Romancer artists. Close to zero chance of any of his material seeing a release, so we should all be extra grateful to Asahi for giving them an airing.
Last call for TYFTH Live 009, as it’s been visible in all the usual places since February. That includes Twitch, as it’s highlighted there and shouldn’t disappear anytime soon (if ever?). This was a a very fun set to put together, with many old and new tracks getting a play for the first time. I’m very happy with the atmosphere, even if (as usual) it was a lot of work to put together.
The biggest Horser-related news from the set was that we had two tracks on show – my Cyhyraeth and Sherkel’s superb Concealed. I’ve been trying to work out a way to use it in a set for quite a long time now as it has an extremely long, atmospheric breakdown. The opening three tracks of this set (repurposed from a CODEX appearance) are pretty hectic and absolutely set the tone, but are combined in a way that keeps the long breaks to a minimum. That was the perfect platform for Concealed, then, and I love the flow of that section.
Of the other transitions Perkele! – VPN is probably my favourite, as they’re two tracks I’ve wanted to play for years but are extremely challenging to use well. It was one of those lovely mixing moments when I realised there was potential to combine the two. Another high point was the Twisted Freq section (which needed some 3-deck action to get things working), as I combined the two in that way to reduce the massive breakdowns that you tend to get in Kreatrix tracks. PHASE 6 – Tigris also works really well, linking PHASE 6’s break with Tigris’ intro to deepen the atmosphere some more before the dark-but-melodic final part of the set. Oh and Mirage – Chimaera has never been in any of my online/event sets, but I used a less ambitious version in my first ever freeform mix back in 2006.
I was very happy to see how well the set was received live on Twitch – a massive thanks goes to Shimo for her raid, and to all the Fairy Forest crew who stayed around to listen. I’ve played to far fewer people at many club events, and it was a bit overwhelming to try to keep track of the action in the chat. Apologies to those I missed, and I’ll try to be on top of it next time. It actually crossed my mind to have a mic set up for interacting with everyone listening, but then I’d need to also record the set through Traktor to get the clean audio. I’m wary of adding more stress to my overloaded setup, but I’ll do some tests before deciding one way or the other.
Obviously I missed the March deadline for the next one, but more than ever these days I get the feeling that people expect a certain kind of set from me, and just throwing one together at the last minute wouldn’t really cut it. With all the newcomers to the scene and the ever-increasing distance between now and the release of those 2000s tracks, hopefully my ‘old and new’ style can still hit the sweet spot between introducing the classics to freeform rookies, while pushing the newer tracks and producers that are keeping that spirit alive. On that note, I’ve put in quite a bit of time to the next mix, with an intro just about decided and another section that has some lovely combinations. I’d say it’s pretty likely to appear this month, depending how well I manage the traditionally tricky middle part of the set.
I should give a quick mention to this here – it’s been a long enough wait, after all. My Hell’s Gate remix has been hidden away on SoundCloud for a few months, as I had to add the track to Spotify as a way to set up an artist profile (a bizarre process that doesn’t need explaining here). Although that was all for FINRG purposes, it was in the back of my mind to add to TYFTH’s ‘free tracks‘ section while I was at it. If I had my way it would have quietly appeared there with little fanfare, but that’s not the way SC does things. With some talk about Hell’s Gate recently, here it is at last.
This version is actually the ‘easier to mix’ edit I did after finishing the original, but both are essentially the same. In theory I could work on a ‘2022 remix’ at some point, but as even typing that drains all enthusiasm instantly, it’s probably better to leave Hell’s Gate in the past at this point. Unbelievably the track still stands up pretty well, with a very similar second half to Zio’s original, and the most ‘beginner’s luck’ breakdown you’ll ever hear.
Back in the day I used to rely on Midas for my UK freeform, as he would usually find a nice balance between the UK style and FINRG that gave a taste of what was happening in both scenes. More recently Hedonistik Ritual is definitely the one to watch for that, though as a producer and FINRG member he’s going a few steps further, of course. I’m a bit late mentioning this one, but his Exposed Events set was a fine example.
The set starts off with some Lab 4/Substanced/Carbon Based, easing into things before the UK freeform comes in. It’s always interesting to hear a mix of the two like this (even if this set is definitely more on the UK side), especially with Hedonistik’s energetic mixing style that always keeps the interest up. As many will know, he used to be (still is?) an MC, so he’s a natural at hosting and introducing this sort of streamed event.
Watch out especially for Hedonistik’s tracks, Pelko’s Hellchoir and a nice use of Kokomochi’s Megaptera towards the end.
1.Lab4 – Reformation (Nick the Kid Remix) Intro 2.Lab 4 – Reformation (Carbon Based Remix)
3. Substanced – Geneva pt 3 (Carbon Based Remix)
4. DJ Scot Project – O (Mark Sherry’s Acidburst Remix)
5. Alex Mo – Over the Rainbow
6. Hedonistik Ritual – Invasion
7. Pelko – Hellchoir
8. Aeon – Apostasy
9. Angel 0A – Psychokiller
10. Kokomochi – Megaptera
11. Kevin Energy & Afterburner – Escape Velocity
12. Impact – Phat as Phuck (A.B & Hedonistik Ritual’s Keep it Freeform Remix)
13. Ephexis – Sick Seduction