Goa / Psy

Unprecedented scenes here, as a second TYFTH set goes online within a month (or so) of the last stream. I’ll soon be away again for a week, but signs are that there’ll be at least one more in March. Enormous thanks once again to everyone who joined the stream, it’s a genuine pleasure to share these tunes and catch up in the chat.

Special mention to Butterfly Effect,  sneaking its way into the set to become the first UK freeform track I’ve used for many years. The goa-style acid in the second half made it a contender for the stream’s psychedelic theme, and layering it above and below Man Eaten and Ancient Universe made for a good intro (and covered up some elements I wasn’t so keen on).

I was quite happy with the rest of the set considering how quickly I put it together – the Qygen section at the start is overly long because there were originally some other tracks in there that were cut at the last moment (plus they’re two of Qygen’s more enormous tracks, of course). Otherwise I’m pretty happy with how the set meanders around some freeform-adjacent genres but gets back on track for the final third.

One of the not-exactly-freeform tracks was Zoonoodle’s 国, which jambt0 corrected to during the stream. edit: Thanks to some Sherkel sleuthing it seem that 掴 is the right choice after all. Apologies to jmbt0! Isn’t it a great track, by the way? It’s long been in the running for the next FINRG set (and might still be), as it’s minimal enough to use with just about anything while having a dark atmosphere of its own.

Next time might be the hard techno set I’ve mentioned before, as I’m banking on that being easier to put together in haste. Nothing definite yet though – let’s see what time allows.

I was supposed to put this post online a couple of weeks ago, but Alek was adding so much new material to his SoundCloud that I couldn’t keep up. Things have calmed down again now, so here’s a roundup of some of the wonderful stuff he’s been working on recently.

Toisto is a lovely update to a tracker(?)/demoscene track, even if I’m not familiar with the original and had no luck with a search. The Boulder Dash theme, on the other hand, is an absolute classic and has been a favourite of mine for over 30 years. Here Alek’s gone for a trance remix, perhaps wisely as the theme is so good that you can quite happily loop it for 4 or 5 minutes without getting bored. Might we hear these tracks in another back to back set with Byproduct in the not-too-distant future?

Before we get on to the harder side it was a Paocala track from earlier this year that gave me hope for if/when Alek made a freeform comeback. 5396 Miles (at the top of this post) is a beautiful, downtempo soundtrack-esque piece that finds Alek right back in that emotional, otherwordly place where he’s always made his best music. Dare I say, I think it’s the best he’s written for years, and channelling that (back) into freeform would raise the bar, just as he did 20 years ago.

The first of the harder tracks is a collab with Decion, and an excellent hard trance/dance track that nicely combines the two styles. It’s only 150bpm, mind, and very much in the Decion style of ‘very hard trance’ rather than NRG, making it tough to get into a weightier Hard NRG set. Find the right tracks to surround it though, and this could be the uplifting centrepiece with an atmosphere that not many will match.

Origami Hearts is at freeform speed for sure, and even flirts with some of the depth of 5396 Miles with its spectacular opening. That gives way for some oldskool ravey sounds and a lead that almost has me imagining it’s an Alek-Substanced collab. It’s a fantastic, unusual track – though I’ll admit I was really hoping for some FINRG filtering to join the hoovers for a while in the middle section.

I won’t link the next one here, but it could be the most exciting (upcoming) freeform release from Alek in a long time. Blood from the Sky is a dark freeform track of the sort that I wasn’t sure we’d ever see again – aggressive, atmospheric, and progressive. The opening half of the track is spectacular and even Re-form-esque at times with the voice samples and jittery snare rolls, but it’s post-drop where the leads get darker and more complex, and the track really takes off. The use of some samples from the FINRG Hard era is a nice nod to the history that flows through this tune, but there are plenty of modern production touches that make it an evolution in the best way. Absolutely superb work from Alek – if you’re looking for a preview then apparently there’s one on Facebook, but I’d recommend joining the FINRG discord if you haven’t already, where he added a full-length version last month.

As if that wasn’t enough, a remastered version of Voices of Babylon also appeared on Alek’s SoundCloud a week or so ago. Earlier this year Guld and I were sitting in an izakaya listening to the original together, trying to decide whether it’s the best Alek’s ever done – personally it’s still in my top 3 freeform tracks, and very possibly at number 1. This remaster cleans up the track, giving it a brighter feel that definitely benefits some of the leads. The grittiness of the original master is something I really love though, and I still prefer the older kick. In my case I’ll be keeping both versions to hand, as depending on the atmosphere of the set and the surrounding tracks they’ll both have their place. Scandalously it hasn’t been shared by the main FINRG account yet (thinking of going rogue and doing it myself) and so it might not have reached the audience it should have. Spread the word then, as one of the all-time greats has had an update, and there must be some who weren’t in the scene the first time around.

I’d say not to get too excited about this (it is a 7 year old album, after all), but In Praise of Shadows finally being available on a platform where you don’t need PayPal could be a big deal for some. Especially so for the Japan crew, which is who this is really aimed at. Since setting up the Booth shop I’ve opened it to non-Japanese orders too, so give it a look if the PayPal thing was what held you back in the past.

I was listening through the soundcloud previews again while I did all the intial Booth admin and (as biased as I am) it really is one of the all-time best compilations, isn’t it? Anyway, check out the Booth shop if you couldn’t support the release the first time around.

Would ‘PVC’ be the answer if most Horsers were challenged to name their favourite Eryk Orpheus track? It’s still mine – hardly a surprise as it’s the only UK freeform track I’ve ever played in a club – but Eryk’s psy-influenced modern style has plenty going for it, too. This inspired remix of This Place Is A Shelter comes pretty close to merging the two, and shows that his ear for a melancholy breakdown sample is as sharp as ever.

As often these days I find myself wishing that the post-breakdown lead had some more Finnish/Japanese ‘rawness’ to it, but it’d be silly to criticise a UK freeform track for sounding the way it was intended. I’d love to hear this one in a Transcend-style ‘intelligent UK freeform set’ someday – as much as I enjoy it I’m not sure it’ll fit into any of mine for a while.

As a bootleg remix it’s available for free on the Intelli-trance bandcamp.

Been a while since the last event-recap post, hasn’t it? Although I’d heard about Dark Dimension’s comeback earlier in the year, I was expecting a smaller/low-key affair for starters – not a bit of it though, as even without any guest DJs from outside Japan this was up there with the very best of Dark Dimension’s subculture mashups. LOFT turned out to be a brilliant venue too, which is always a nice surprise when these live houses are used for electronic events. The main speakers were a bit too enthusiastic on the top end, but the main floor was decently sized and gave enough room for both the ravers and industrial dancers in attendance.

The crowd was genuinely impressive, as every subculture represented made the effort to turn out in force. For most of my time there I was catching up with old Romancer ravers, and I recognised plenty of people from my travels through other gothic and industrial events. The second ‘chaotic’ floor lineup was perfectly judged and seemed to work as an escape option for the goths when things got too energetic in the main room.

Obviously I was mainly there for Guld’s set, but arrived just in time to catch most of Suke’s dark psy live PA. I’ll never cease to be amazed how people outside of a typical dark psy event will still go all out to dance to such fast, repetitive tunes with very few breakdowns – maybe it’s another quirk of the scenes here, but seeing even the goths and steampunks giving it a go was a surprise. Talking of steampunk, right after Suke was an excellent, atmospheric fashion show by kennycreation (who also played the backing tracks). Like something from Tokyo Decadance, this was probably the moment when I realised what a grand job the DD crew had done of bringing together such a disparate crowd. The last set before Guld was Chika with her hard techno – it might be the easiest of all the harder genres to mix, but that makes the selection extra important. She structured the set very well for the audience, lightening things up here and there but keeping it mostly dark and hard.

Guld’s set was superb, opening up with his Candyman remix. The first drop after the intro set off all the Romancer ravers at once, and if you squinted a little you might even have convinced yourself that you were back in Studio Cube in 2008. The rest of the set was heavy on Hase and ThermalForce (see the first video up above) and some old and new tracks that perfectly matched the atmosphere for this event. There was another fashion show early in Guld’s set, this time from the cyberpunk brand D/3, which is well worth checking out if you’re not familar.

Of course the big highlight for me was hearing Cyhyraeth in a club setting for the first time – Guld and I were (again) complaining recently how hard it is to get a chance to play NRG/freeform to fans of other darker scenes, despite the fact that they invariably enjoy it, and here was my track getting the perfect chance to do just that. I didn’t do a great job of showing the size of the crowd in my video (there are others floating around online that give you a better idea), but there was a spectacular response as it was (surprisingly) mixed in from One Immortal. In the most literal sense it felt like being in a dream as I looked around, seeing the Romancer ravers react to the ‘you’re supposed to dance to this part’ sections exactly as I’d hoped. Obviously I’ve nothing but thanks for Guld for playing the track, and it was biggest kick in the inspiration I’ve ever felt. In fact I was working away on another track in the month leading up the event, but shockingly couldn’t get it finished in time.

Sisen followed Guld with one of the harder sets I’ve ever heard from him, along with the usual stellar stage presence. I dredged up some energy for some more dancing, before heading out to navigate the post-apocalyptic scenes of early-morning Kabukicho. Talking to organiser Akira during the event it sounded like the plan is for Dark Dimension to put on at least another event this year, and the only shame is that it probably won’t be a very regular thing. The crowds are there to support it though, so perhaps it’ll be sooner than we expect…

If you’re as much of an Exemia fan as me you’ll already know that he was signed up by NGDEV to work on Gunvein’s OST. I was definitely planning to give the soundtrack a mention anyway, but for full disclosure I was kindly gifted a promo copy by Exemia around the time of release. It seems the ‘freeform loving shmup fan’ demographic is marginally bigger than I expected, and for us especially this was one of the most interesting releases of 2022.

Like Gunvein itself, the OST has plenty of late-era Cave atmosphere to it, but (unsurprisingly) a much more authentic hardcore feel to most of the tracks. One of the drawbacks from a freefrom DJ’s perspective is the short running time – you’d need some nimble mixing to get many of these into a set. That’s obviously not the main goal here though, and the variety is what makes this a fine listen even unmixed.

There’s more drum and bass here than I was expecting, but if anything less guitar – this is a very DoDonPachi inspired game, after all. No surprise that Exemia absolutely nails the stage 1 theme, with enough of a shmup feel to start things off followed by full freeform in the second half. Another favourite for me is Exhaled Haven, both a superb boss theme and a track that would easily fit into an Exemia freeform set. An extra mention too for the chilled ending track with its lovely drums and chirpy main lead.

Lately I’ve been back to trying to 1cc Guwange among others (I’ll take talk of that to Mastodon, not here) so I haven’t yet given Gunvein the time it deserves. With the reception it’s had so far and the best OST since Blue Revolver (or GG Aleste 3 if we’re including non-freeform) it’ll likely be worth the wait.

TYFTH has been in cryostasis for a year or so, and truth be told I haven’t been listening to much freeform either. The chronic lack of new releases was part of the reason, but Exemia’s Retribution almost made up for this all by itself. Freeform album of 2021 without a doubt, and his strongest  so far, which is saying something.

The balance is spot on here, with some real weight to the kick/bass alongside some complex melodies. They’ve always been an Exemia strong suit, but this time I can also hear an occasional Qygen influence (maybe something from the Blue Revolver days?) that works excellently. The creativity on show here’s pretty incredible, from nastier work like Cultist Killer to the beautiful almost-finale When the sun sets.

Make sure to show some support if you haven’t already – even with signs of the scene waking up a little, it really needs more artists of Exemeia’s level to keep it going.

Big thanks as always for those who stopped by to listen on Friday, especially at such short notice.

I wasn’t on peak form this time, but it’s a nice reminder of how useful the streams can be to keep me sharp – in my defence I haven’t had much chance to play goa recently and had less time for planning during the week than expected. The plans are still afoot for another set this month, as there’s been something in the works for a while that won’t need too much extra organising.

Still, I’m happy with this short set and it’s now up on YouTube. A couple of the transitions were supposed to go a little differently (choosing when to switch up the bass makes all the difference, of course) and so I think I’ll try a rerecording for SoundCloud. Rest in the Light brought in quite a few goa fans over there and I’d like to upload something a bit cleaner than I managed the other evening.

Both YouTube and the rerecording will include seven rather than eight tracks, as Psy-H Project’s Active Meditation was really an encore of sorts, and I doubt Global Sect would be too happy about me distributing a totally unmixed track at the end of this set. Astrancer’s Neighbor is a lovely finisher anyway – it fits in very nicely with what I was going for this time.

01. Khetzal – Garden of Nyagrodha Trees
02. Mindsphere – Divine Intervention
03. Alienapia & Khetzal – Endless Glade
04. E-Mantra – Solomonar
05. Atlantis – Acid Mantra
06. Mindsphere – Visual Perception
07. Astrancer – Neighbor

The first of two sets this month will be tonight at 10pm JST. A little later to give me some wiggle room with other stuff going on today, this is (as you might have seen on Mastodon) a goa session on the melodic side. I do have enough planned out for a darker set too, but that’ll go on the back burner for now.

Although this won’t be an incredibly long set, it will be heavy on the deeper atmospheres with a bit of acid here and there. Something a little different for me to try this time then, and there’ll be some very recent releases in there too.

I’ve been quite busy lately with a few TYFTH-related projects that probably won’t appear here for quite some time, which is the main reason for the post count dropping again. Rather than draw it out even longer, here’s a rapid fire version of some of the SoundCloud recommendations I was meaning to get around to.

Top of the list for good reason is a new upload from Nomic – this time a recording of his 2017 Kosmos set. With the scene having quietened down since then we haven’t heard Nomic’s tracks too often, which might explain why this sounds so fresh. Featuring a wonderful as-yet unreleased WIP, this is a truly beautiful set that still manages to finish with some high grade aggression. Many of us have more time than usual to check out sets these days, but if you can only manage one for the forseeable, this is it.

Next up is my favourite of Proteus’ recent releases, his goa-influenced rework of Gute Nacht. For one reason or another I got some strong UX feelings from this one, so it was interesting to see Proteus shout out Kris Kylven in his track notes. Sadly it doesn’t really have the old school filteriness of UX, but there’s a nice mix of classic Proteus along with the other influences.

Erkenfresh’s Pleading to a Silver Moon wins points for sidestepping a variation on Lockdown/Quarantine/Contagion as a track title, while also excelling as an emotional, energetic freeform track. Absolutely something I would have put forward for Hybridize back in the day, this is very solid work that steps up plenty of gears in the breakdown. While I wish the drop had crashed in earlier, the filters and quality melodies make it well worth the wait.

Finally for now is Malice, a collab track between Alchemiist and Risa, releasing at some point on Drop Bear Digital. From the clip it sounds like the breakdown is the standout here, and while the drop doesn’t seem to do anything too out of the ordinary it looks to be a classic-styled NRG track that would slot into plenty of sets. This won’t be the first release on Drop Bear for either Alchemiist or Risa, so check out Beatport for others in the meantime.