Top Tens

The typically farcical Hardcore Heaven awards have brought plenty of complaints from our scene, but the heroic folk at the Freeform Forum have ridden to the rescue with their own version. The open vote will run for a couple of weeks, and it’ll be fascinating to see what results it throws up – head over to the voting page to make your choices. There’s also a dedicated thread on the Freeform Forum itself which will surely be worth keeping an eye on.

Much delayed, but it’s finally time for our annual roundup of the Japanese scene’s favourite tunes. As usual, it’s a mix of tunes released in 2012 and other tracks that DJs found themselves playing a lot, but hopefully it’s just interesting for everyone to see what sounds were most popular here.

Sadly the Japanese NRG/freeform scene is very quiet this year, and has so far been totally ignored by other hardcore events (just check the lineup for this year’s Tokyo ‘Hard’ Groove Session for proof). Hopefully things will pick up again as the year progresses – one of the great things about last year was the emergence of a few new DJs, from raqhow and Nrgray gaining more experience at Experience!, to ikaruga_nex’s switch to freeform and Mii’s debut in the darker scene. Alabaster wasn’t very active last year and so isn’t part of this year’s roundup, but hopefully he’ll be back on his game to contribute next time.

Massive thanks as always to everyone for taking the time to choose, and it’d be interesting to hear everyone else’s picks, if you can remember back that far.

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Remember your favourite tunes from last year? Well four months late, here’s a roundup of what the Japanese crew were listening to in 2011. Once again, the number of DJs playing freeform has fallen, but at least we’ve seen some new faces like raqhow and Le Dos-on (who’ll make his Top 3 debut this year, I suppose), while the selections here show that the remaining DJs are pushing some really quality sounds. Dust off memories of yesteryear, and feel free to throw in your own choices at the end of the post.

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5trax2011 by Nrgray

Bit of a transition week so far – I’ve upgraded a lot of my gear, and so there’s a lot of new stuff to learn at TYFTH Towers. That includes a brand new Mac, so bear with me while I work out how to use everything.

Anyway, here’s another mini-mix from Nrgray, this time serving as a nice preview to the annual Top 3 post (which will be on the way asap). Here Nrgray has picked his top 5 tunes from the past year and mixed them into a nice little set. The opening The Brain Controls Pain into Aphrodite is a particularly nice connection…one of those times when intentionally limiting your track choice makes you come up with some interesting ideas. Actually the whole set flows well, with some very solid mixing.

  1. Cyrez – The Brain Controls Pain
  2. Substanced – Aphrodite
  3. Alchemiist – Radiation
  4. Proteus & Kevin Energy – London Helsinki Underground (Proteus ‘Warcry’ remix)
  5. Alek Szahala – Ziggurat

With a nasty week out of the way, it’s back to posting…sorry things have been a bit quiet for a couple of days. As well as BEEZEE’s Lab 4 set, I’ve been keeping myself sane with an excellent 1991-1993 Moving Shadow-only mix from the ever-reliable Wozowski. I was very lucky to be getting into hardcore just around this time, when DJs were still playing (heavy on the voice sample) oldskool alongside early jungle, so there are plenty of fond memories here. Listen out especially for a proper mix between two of my all time favourites, Thru the Vibe and the wonderful Moving Shadow release of Cold Fresh Air (up above).

Anyway, I’d say it’s time for a Top Ten:

  1. Alek Szahala – Starcrossed
  2. Lab 4 – Concept of Love (Guld remix)
  3. Epyx & Cyrez- Risk Addiction (Substanced remix)
  4. Epyx & Cyrez meets Heathen – All of Us
  5. Alek Szahala – Vertigo
  6. Betwixt & Between – Tankobu Hesotarou no Hourou (Proteus remix)
  7. Alek Szahala – Ziggurat
  8. Alchemiist – Parasite
  9. Horzi – Human Hater
  10. Epyx & Cyrez – Don’t Take My Soul

Sorry for the long delay in getting this together, but it turned out to be quite a task to get the Japanese view on the scene this time around. Quite a few DJs have abandoned freeform for other genres in the last few months, and as things stand it might only be me, Betwixt & Between and Alabaster who are regularly playing sets.

Anyway, there’s plenty of variety this time, from dark psy to melodic drum and bass – and once again there are a lot of unfamiliar tunes for me to check out. Massive thanks to all the DJs/artists for making the effort to choose three.

My own picks will be at the end of the post, but I’m just as interested to see what everyone else thought of last year’s tunes. Feel free to add your own!

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The darker/deeper side of the scene might be suffering a bit this year, but full credit to the artists who are still pushing the sound; there have been some amazing tracks in the last couple of months. The combination of All of Us and Aurora is a perfect example of where I think freeform should be going – dark and nasty one moment, beautiful and melancholy the next. High fives all round to Epyx & Cyrez, Heathen and Aryx.

That actually links in nicely with this month’s random video, as the other day I finished playing through LIMBO (an Xbox Live-only game),  and it absolutely blew me away. This trailer hardly does it justice – if you haven’t come across it before, it’s an incredibly beautiful/disturbing/emotional experience, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. High fives for Playdead studios too, then.

  1. Epyx & Cyrez meets Heathen – All of Us
  2. Aryx – Aurora
  3. Betwixt & Between – Point Of No Return
  4. Dye In Sound – The Storyteller
  5. Alabaster – lolite
  6. Betwixt & Between – Inexistenz
  7. Proteus – Fist of the North Star
  8. Alabaster -Hellion
  9. Nomic – Walking In The Air (live edit)
  10. Aquanox – Killer Loop

It’s the quietest summer for a few years, but there are still some great tracks out there. A few of these have had some play time in my off-the-cuff ustream sets, and might even end up in the next ‘studio mix’ (which I’m finally starting to think about again).

One of the things that has inspired me to do another real mix is this unbelievable Prodigy-only set from Bluefire. It was originally posted 5 years ago (!), but I dug it out again after listening to the Experience album this past week. Prodigy tunes aren’t really set up for mixing (as anyone who has tried will tell you), which makes some of the double drops/epic transitions in Bluefire’s set even more amazing. It’s absolutely recommended for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet, and after the slower opening section it thankfully concentrates on the Experience/Jilted Generation era. Check out Bluefire’s original post on Dogs On Acid, there might be an active link there somewhere.

  1. Dye In Sound – The Storyteller
  2. Betwixt & Between – Point Of No Return
  3. Proteus – Fist Of The North Star
  4. Samuel K – Neuromancer
  5. Suge – Tanasinn
  6. Betwixt & Between – Enter the Void
  7. Aquanox – Killer Loop
  8. Cyrez – Rock n Load
  9. Poly Calamity – Unam Sanctum
  10.  Nomic – Muuttolintu

A belated Top Ten for June – this month I’ve been listening to some other stuff in preparation for the next event, so I won’t include any of that. If I could get away with it, Alek Szahala’s Phobos would easily be in the top 5…but let’s wait and see if a finished version appears one day.

Two videos this time, both from Future Sound Of London’s Lifeforms album. If you haven’t heard it before, it includes some of the most inspiring/creative electronica you’ll find anywhere, and is almost certainly their best release (though Dead Cities runs it close). I was listening to it again for some ideas the other day, and it’s hard to believe it came out 16 years ago…

One more thing – in recent weeks the site has been under attack from a  huge amount of (increasingly bizarre) spam, so it’s possible I might have missed a comment or two in the middle of it all. Please send an email to plasmadancer [ at ] if you think yours might have been one of them.

  1. Betwixt & Between – Point of No Return
  2. Poly Calamity – Unam Sanctum
  3. Nomic – Painajaiskarkoittaja
  4. Nightforce & Twisted Freq – Ready or Not
  5. Alabaster – Revenant
  6. Betwixt & Between – Hydra
  7. Re-form – My Sickness
  8. Suge – Tanasinn
  9. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – Bloody Tears (RAF remix)
  10. Proteus – I See Things That You Don’t See (Guld remix)

Been a long time since the last Top Ten, but there was talk of me playing another gig this month (it’s been delayed, but hopefully it’ll still happen at a later date) so that stopped me posting until now. Some very melancholy/emotional tunes in here this time, seems like this year I’ve really settled on the style I like best…

In other news I’ve got a couple of tunes on the go – one remix and one original. Really hoping I’ll have at least one of them done in a week or two, but we’ll see…

  1. Betwixt & Between – Point of No Return
  2. Alek Szahala – Voices of Babylon
  3. Steve Morley – Sacred City (Nomic remix)
  4. Alabaster – Revenant
  5. Apofish – Echiuridi
  6. Nomic – Desolated Dreams
  7. Betwixt & Between – From the Abyss
  8. Re-form – My Sickness
  9. Guld – Final Revenger (Another Future)
  10. RR – ThermalForce – Rockin’ (Phosphorescence mix)

Today’s random video at the top of the post is great, I reckon – genius vocalist/musician Bobby McFerrin conducting an audience through the pentatonic scale. With a million-and-something views you’ve probably seen it before, but I could watch this one all day… If you’re lucky enough not to have come across his shows on YouTube, definitely take some time to check them out – a few minutes ago I was watching this improvised duet with the ever-amazing Aziza Mustafa Zadeh.