It would be slightly odd if you’re here and haven’t heard anything about last weekend’s TYFTH Live, but here’s one last mention for completeness. I mastodonned during planning about how much fun I was having putting this one together – I’m holding back a lot of tracks for an upcoming FINRG set, and the restrictions made for a few unusual selections and new combinations.
I won’t give one of my long mix-constructing rambles this time, but Ordeal into Killer Loop would probably be somewhere in my all-time top 10 transitions, I’m immensely proud of it. The Aquanox melody with Ordeal’s bass and pads absolutely sounds like something new – I knew I was onto something when it gave me goosebumps the first time mixing it.
Other than that the set’ll probably get some listens for the Hellfire remix, which I found on an old hard drive about a month ago. I enjoy the sequence from there to the end, as things get darker and there are some other nice combos I haven’t tried before.
Now’s also a nice time to say another big thanks to everyone who showed up to listen, from the hardcore Horsers to the new listeners via Shimo’s raid. In big part thanks to the good response, I was hit by some inspiration and almost managed to put together another streamable freeform set for this weekend(!), but it’s not quite there and will have to wait for next month instead. Stay tuned, as (unusually) there’s plenty in the works at the moment.
Quite literally one from the archives here – thanks to Shihen I was reminded of this classic Beezee and Alderz set from 11 years ago and realised that some newer Horsers might never have heard it before. Unsurprisingly I was all over it at the time but the set is no longer on soundcloud. Thankfully Beezee has kept it archived (along with some other quality mixes) on hearthis – I can’t see a way to embed stuff from there, mind, so head this way to check out the set instead.
My thoughts at the time still stand, but listening in 2023 it really feels like an ‘end of an era’ kind of set, when the original Finnish/Japanese atmospheres were getting harder and harder to find. Much later than this and sets would often lose it completely, but Beezee and Alderz have hit the sweet spot here of newer (for the time) tracks that still have enough of the older spirit to sit alongside the anthems.
Big thanks again to Shihen for the reminder, and to Alderz for help in tracking the set down.
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.
Like me you might have been learning more about the freeform scene in China recently, and the talented group of young DJs and producers who seem to be inspired by the sounds we favour around here. One of them, Asukarai Matsuri, has put together a fantastic mix that covers just about all the TYFTH bases.
The most impressive thing about the set overall is the transitions, both in how they sound and their originality. By halfway through my first listen I was looking forward to each new one, wondering how the next track would appear. Needless to say, that’s not the case in 99% of freeform sets, and even though some were more successful than others this is very impressive for such a new DJ. There are some superb, in-key combinations like Children into Rachel’s Song and A Mind On Its Own with Skybreak, plus some ‘close enough’ transitions like Ziggurat – Gozenzeuna and Deimos – Surendrajit. There’s also a superb sequence of Hase/ThermalForce that keeps the energy of the set going despite the two long back-to-back breaks of Brionac and Meditation. Another good sign of set construction sense is that there isn’t another breakdown of similar length until the much later Fall 4 You.
Of course the danger with those ‘close enough’ transitions is that sometimes you’ll push it too far and they start to stand out, especially in a mix with so many smooth, in-key combinations. That’s the case with Surendrajit – Falling Star, which doesn’t quite work and yet becomes a very lengthy blend. It doesn’t sound bad, but when the previous 45 minutes have had some very impressive moments, it can’t help but be jarring.
Something that might put first-time listeners off is the occasional messiness of the early transitions, but things clear up a lot in the second half. It seems that this could have been a streamed set, in which case it’s totally understandable and might just have been early set nerves/tech stuff. Either way, it’s something that’ll only get cleaner with experience (something I know all too well).
It’s a real pleasure to hear a new generation take on the sound we’ve all been pushing for so long, and to already be creating such impressive sets makes it even better. I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next, both in terms of new takes on NRG sets but also new productions.
Some housekeeping for the comeback post, as In Praise of Shadows is available again via the bigcartel page. Of course it was offline for a while during my Europe wanderings so that potential orders weren’t on hold for a month and a bit, rather than having sold out. Although the compilation has sold repectably by recent (or 2016) standards, the print run was closer to 2007 golden era numbers, meaning there’s plenty of stock left. That also means, sadly, that there’s a long way to go before costs are recouped, but as a labour of love I’m not so worried about that part. Financially idiotic or not, I’m glad to have kept the quality bar very high for all aspects of the release.
Anyway, I thought I’d also use this post to say a massive thank you to everyone who has ordered so far. Even this year there has been a small but pretty steady flow of orders, which is especially amazing considering my lack of action here or promotion elsewhere. The compilation has now found its way to 18 countries, and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to imagine it being played around the world. A second release might only be wishful thinking at the moment, but keeping the TYFTH sound alive in some form or another is I hope a decent way to start repaying you for the support so far.
Here’s one of the main reasons it’s been a bit quiet around here recently – fitting a set around Other Things these days isn’t always easy. No way I was going to turn down a chance to contribute to the FINRG podcast series though, so here’s my first full freeform set since the In Praise of Shadows mix.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how it wasn’t only the dark, melancholy atmospheres of freeform that initially attracted me, but also a strangeness that I hadn’t really heard anywhere else. Play tracks like that in a club setting and you have the other-wordly atmosphere of NRGetic Romancer, of course, and so this set was an attempt to capture some of that with a tracklist of slightly less common tunes. The key was to avoid throwing in unusual tracks for the sake of it, as well as putting the usual effort in to construct a cohesive whole.
To that end I built the set around three main sections, resisting some old, obvious transitions in favour of keeping things headed in the direction I wanted. Hence the use of Twisted Freq early on, and a pretty basic introduction of Godd, for example. I wasn’t desperate to use promos here, but it turned out that GULD’s little-heard City of Solitude remix and Re-form’s Intro both fitted in nicely. Alabaster’s Awakening remix is still under construction, but this is the latest version and not too far from completion (and used with permission, obviously).
The 2023 remix was supposed to mark the big finale, which is probably my favourite part of the set. I’m quite pleased with the shift in atmosphere from there to Blackmailer, then into the Alek-Mellow Sonic combo. Those two beautiful breaks threaten to bring a tear to the eye every time, and I was hoping the contrast with the rest of the set would make them sound even better.
As always there are things I’d like to improve, but having already spent an outrageous amount of time planning this one the deadline was probably a good thing. Hope everyone enjoys it!
An interesting take on the dark/melancholy formula here, in a set from DJ Danny Stokes. Recorded a few years ago, the set is anchored around a few heavily pitched up Lab 4 tracks – this might be a deal breaker for some, but it’s this and the surprising combo of Nu-Energy with darker tracks that are the noteable elements here.
Although personally I could do without tracks like Kevin Energy’s remix of Lumi, it’s tracklists like these that show the potential of coaxing more UK freeform-centric DJs towards the FINRG, EE, Kreatrix and (wait for it) TYFTH side of things. As an example, CLSM’s Revolution remix works brilliantly here as a link between Lab 4, with Adaption making perfect sense as a follow-up.
It’s thought-provoking stuff, before the second half of the set switches into a nicely mixed selection of old favourites. I have my own thoughts on how the TYFTH flavour of NRG and freeform can reach wider audiences, but sets like these (and Thumpa’s, obviously) show a another possible, optimistic attack vector on the less grimdark corners of the freeform world.
It turns out that Orphic’s excellent Freeformaniacs set was actually my second favourite of round 20 – a belated listen to Solvynt’s hour of NRG and freeform quickly sent it to the top of this batch of sets.
Frankly if you’re reading TYFTH (and you are), then this is sure to be a hugely enjoyable listen with many of our favourite tunes alongside some new and surprising tunes. Credit to Solvynt for doing a fine job with the atmosphere – consistently dark with enough variation and melody to keep things interesting. The mixing itself ranges from solid to really exciting (no clashing keys here, crucially), and my personal favourite was that quality switch from Desolated Dreams to Inquisition. The old faithful of Maruuk to Voices of Babylon is also in there, one I’ve used many a time myself.
This being Solvynt, you be right to expect some rare or unusual tracks, and to his huge credit they’re nicely incorporated into the set. The great use of This Moment as an intro sets this off in the right way, but listen out too for Guld’s LUCID and especially Nomic’s brand new Personal Hater.
Tracklist-wise, I don’t think I’ve seen a set so close to my own tastes for a long time, and I expect a lot of Horsers will feel the same way. Very highly recommended.
00. Anomic – This Moment [Unreleased] 01. HASE – 法界 [Khaotic Dimension] 02. DJ MANIK – LUCID (GULD remix) [Nrgetic Romancer] 03. Betwixt & Between – Self Extortion [Unreleased] 04. Epyx & Cyrez meets Heathen – All of Us [E&C Self-Released] 05. Nomic – Desolated Dreams [Unreleased] 06. Nemes & Blender – Inquisition (Blender remix) [Unreleased] 07. Alek Szahala – Maruuk [Finrg] 08. Alek Szahala – Voices of Babylon [Finrg] 09. Pain on Creation & Fea – Unconsciousness [Electronica Exposed] 11. Twisted Freq – Horsehead [Electronica Exposed] 12. Nomic – Personal Hater(preview) [Unreleased]
There’s something great going on at Freeform Will Never Die’s SoundCloud right now – a collecting together of a huge number of free releases from the labels that make up the scene, curating the best ones and making them handily available in one place.
The FINRG list of 25 tracks shows a really good ear for our kind of sound, and in fact even TYFTH was recently added to the collection. If you somehow missed out on our free tracks then be sure to take a look, and I’d wager there’ll be a few other free tunes on other labels that went under your radar until now.
Give FWND a SoundCloud follow as well, this kind of dedication deserves plenty of support.
Probably about time for a quick note on my Lucky Lotus set, broadcast a few weeks ago and now up on the FINRG SoundCloud.
I actually put a lot of effort into this one, and hoped to follow up my old (and very melodic) LL mix with something a bit darker. In the end I decided on a dark first half, before a psychedelic midsection and a slightly lighter finale – I’m (occasionally) working on a special set for TYFTH at the moment which’ll be heavy on the melancholy, and so I wanted to keep things energetic this time around.
As is usual these days, you’ll notice that most of the tracks are very old, and even one or two of the connections might be familiar-ish if you’ve listened to some of the more ancient sets listed here. It wasn’t the plan from the outset to use so many oldies, but it’s of course hard to find a similar atmosphere in many modern tracks – it’s a nice feeling to be so familiar with a lot of these tunes, and hopefully that’s reflected in some fairly interesting connections and a flow I’m very happy with.
edit: To add something a bit more informative, a really important part of the first half was Superstition – I’ve always wanted to use it in a set, and the track actually changes key after the intro, which is incredibly useful if you’re going for a smooth sequence of tunes. Pink Magic is another Alek track that does something similar.
I was actually quite pleased with the next part too – I’m not the first or last to try to connect a few psychedelic tracks to Supriya, but this was my best attempt so far, and I really like the progression to Le Dos-on’s Mezame bootleg. Having melodically fumbled my way out of that section, I was looking forward to smoothly progressing things towards the finale. Sadly though, time restraints meant I couldn’t mess around with Mezame experiments for too long, and I decided to switch things up and lead into the Mediterranean Summer – Spatial Healing combination I’ve been sitting on for a while. A shame to let the momentum of the previous 45 minutes trickle away a bit, but there was the silver lining of using Rift in a set for the first time ever.
Apparently there was quite a positive response to the set during the broadcast, and once again a few new listeners seem to have checked out our brand of freeform as a result (if some sudden action on the TYFTH SoundCloud is anything to go by). That was the main objective of course, so huge thanks once again to the Lucky Lotus organisers for another chance to spread the word.