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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.

Here’s a set that certainly hasn’t found the number of listeners it deserves, one that should be of interest of anyone and everyone still checking TYFTH. Last year was the 10th anniversary of Betwixt’s passing, and Shimo put together a fantastic tribute set alongside Sphaera – I won’t blow their cover, but they’re also a long time friend of TYFTH and one of the scene’s best for complex, well-planned sets.

With Shimo involved it’s no surprise that this hour absolutely rockets through the bpms, starting with an inspired combo of schranzy industrial tracks. I’ve tried and failed to put this kind of thing together in the past, and Piropiro to Enter the Void is as good a sequence of Betwixt mixing you’ll hear anywhere. That’s unfortunately followed by an example of the weaker aspect of the set – two or three transitions that have too many clashing melodies for me to enjoy. The move into Eternity Has Passed isn’t the worst offender, mind, and on the whole they can probably be put down to the DJs swapping in and taking on an unexpected melodic track.

Don’t let that put you off though, as there are some spectacular moments in here. Personal favourites are Tankobu to Point of No Return, and Tout est Bien into al Megiddo, as well as a tracklist that takes in a lot of Betwixt’s styles over the years. You’ll notice a few less common tracks and remasters too, so this’ll be an educational listen for many Betwixt fans.

This was obviously a special project, but I really hope we’ll see some more recorded sets from Shimo and a comeback of sorts from Sphaera. Both are, for me, just about at the top of the freeform DJing tree, both in terms of mixing and track selection. With plenty of newcomers on the scene these days it’s more important than ever to keep Japanese/Finnish freeform in touch with its roots, after all.

I discovered them late, but even so it’s long overdue to give woof’s series of twitch events a mention. Titled WOOFYPARTY, they were streamed every month or so last year, and the sixth edition featured an excellent comeback set from Raqhow. Talk about tailoring your set to the audience – think of a freeform track with an anime or game connection and it probably appears at some stage. From Operation Stardust to Mezame, they’re all here and brilliantly mixed. I never would have thought that they could work back to back in this way, and as the final (and only freeform) set of the event it was perfectly judged.

The rest of the event covered all kinds of genres in woofyparty style, including a great Byproduct set that I’d also recommend. Keep an eye on woof’s Twitch channel in case of another event though, as the chat was very lively in the last recording and joining the live version would be a fun time.

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.

 

Time for a much delayed look at Sherkel’s latest production mix, a highly recommended set for anyone looking for some Romancer-style NRG. That’s not to say it relies completely on Sherkel’s amazing ability to capture the sound of Einhander though, as the set has plenty of more creative melodies and some high quality remix work.

To my ears this is without doubt the strongest set from Sherkel so far, and the best example yet of the sound he has been forming over the past few years. All three of the original tracks are excellent in different ways – Coincide is perhaps most similar to previous work, with plenty of energy and an excellent breakdown, while Rising Waves has one of the most distinctive, oddly calming atmospheres I’ve heard for a long time. 死人花 (Shibitohana) is a fitting set finisher, with its quality, hectic melodies and another inspired breakdown.

Talking of inspiration, you can feel it in full force for the Surendrajit remix, adding more NRG style to the track and (pleasingly) not replicating Betwixt’s structure completely. Instead this is a proper remix, gophering deep into Sherkel’s style in the second half with some lovely updated melodies and impressive synth work. Short Circuit is the other remix (one I had to look up) and is equally well-handled. Sherkel’s done well to spot the NRG potential in this one but also managed the difficult part, putting together a catchy, powerful track that will appeal whether you’re familiar with the original or not. The Sherkely synths filtering around the sampled vocals are especially great.

To reiterate, then, this is impressive work and genuinely a set that would have gone down well at either Romancer or CODEX. Hopefully there’s more on the way for next year?

The Horsers have been out in force to congratulate Sherkel on this already, but there should be no hiding in a roundup post for a track of this quality. Both a sign of how far Sherkel has come with his production and an absolutely superb example of how to do a remix, I’m in love with this one and feel pretty sure that both Hase and Betwixt would approve.

Although Sherkel perfected the Einhander style of filtering a long while ago, here he’s also found a lovely balance between his experimental side and NRG convention. The breakdowns make for an unusual structure that still works, thanks to a unique atmosphere and some incredible filtering that has a new trick in store every minute or so. Rounded out by some at-least-as-good-as-Einhander work on the fills and percussion and a very clean mastering job, this is fabulous stuff.

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.

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by for the last stream – seems like this one caught some interest and there was a decent-sized group listening live, especially given the last-minute promotion. Listening back I’m pleasantly surprised by how well the set works, so this one has also gone up on the TYFTH SoundCloud. There’s a much bigger audience over there, for what turned out to be a nice ‘beginner’s set’ with plenty of newer tracks.

The initial idea was to build the whole thing around more melodic freeform, but it also ended up feeling a lot like one of my old school sets. They tended to mix up melodies and nastier tracks a lot more than I do these days, and it was quite refreshing to rattle through a new generation of tracks in that style. The Exit 133 – No Choice At All transition is one I’ve been sitting on for a while, tweaked a bit here but still a very welcoming combination that leads into the faster-feeling modern tracks. polaritia’s tracks were my go-to when I realised that I didn’t want things to head into ‘happy freeform’ territory – maybe it was mixing muscle memory that transformed the set into something I might have played at Hell’s Gate all those years ago.

Cannibal Girl was as fun to use as expected, and I have a feeling that it could become the Hellfire of the current era – very flexible and able to switch up the atmosphere of almost any set. Less planned was the choice of Rise From The Darkness, as I actually bought the track an hour before the start of the stream. I’d been scrambling for something to link with Facemelt, so that along with the breakdown’s nod back to Cannibal Girl made it a good choice.

The set was supposed to end with Zafkiel, but I was having such a good time I thought to carry on a little longer. SIBYL was a nod to Kokomochi in the stream chat, as it’s by far my favourite of his tracks, followed by Substanced’s remix of Cyclone. I’m yet to find a really good transition for it, which meant I didn’t feel quite so bad shoehorning it into the ‘encore’ slot.

There are still a fair few tracks on the more melodic side that I’d like to play, so it might not be a bad idea to switch things up with another set in this style before too long.

 

Anyone following Shimotsukei’s SoundCloud will have noticed a recent burst of incredible mashups, mostly featuring Betwixt & Between – but for everyone else, it’s about time I pointed out a couple of favourites.

So far, of the uploaded versions, I’m probably the biggest fan of Phaedra’s Hypnodisc, a lovely, aggressive mashup that somehow balances the odd atmospheres of both tracks to come up with something new. Both have detuned sounds all over the place that make ‘normal’ mixing difficult enough, but this mashup impresses as it keeps it all together. The extra weight at the lower ends also benefits both, making them a lot more playable in more modern sets. A really incredible effort and the best (online) example so far of what Shimotsukei’s been working on.

Check it out at Shimotsukei’s SoundCloud along with the ambitous Tindaros Invasion, another highlight. You Are Surging, meanwhile, is a quality mashup but still not enough to make me listen to Betwixt’s remix of You Are, something I’ve never been able to play all the way through thanks to some truly painful vocals.

Now’s probably also a good time to mention Shimo’s superb Megabyrgium, a mashup that deserved its own post a couple of years ago and still holds up brilliantly. Still no download, but an absolute must-listen.

 

Not much to add to the title, but an extra apology for the delay as I know some have been waiting for the store page to wake up again. I’ve restocked on packaging and will be able to send out any orders pretty soon after they arrive – it’ll be the same setup as last time, with me aiming to send any out within 3 days. If it ends up being longer for whatever reason then I’ll drop you a message via email to let you know. There’s no tracking on the deliveries, but if you’ve placed an order and would like to know exactly when I sent it out, chase me up via email and I’ll be happy to check.

The store page can be found here.