Mixes

Right, it’s time to indulge me again while I talk about my recent sets, one that took a lot of work but overall turned out much better than I could have hoped. It was (mostly) a lot of fun to put together, but quite apart from that it was very satisfying to combine a few techniques that I’ve been working on over the past years.

Putting the time in to learn Exemia’s tracks has given me a massive appreciation for his creativity and musical skill, and that’s not only when it comes to freeform. Have a wander through his bandcamp and you’ll find plenty of quality industrial, a fabulous synthwave album that must have been the precursor to all this, and a hard, goa-industrial album from 2012 that I’m definitely going to be using in the future.

No suprise that the initial inspiration came from Exemia’s release of the Retribution album earlier in the year. It’s an incredible collection of tracks and is immediately up there as one of the strongest freeform albums ever, in my view. I absolutely can’t resist the stronger emphasis on synthwave/synthform in the older releases either, which got me thinking seriously about how to combine them into one set. I’ll happily admit that I wasn’t as familiar with some of the tracks as I should have been, so the first job was to have a massive folder of Exemia tracks on rotation whenever doing tasks around TYFTH Towers. If a track jumped out at me I’d make a note of the name with  a couple of comments, and after doing that for a while I had a good selection of must-plays-if-possible.

The next step was to work out some transitions using those early favourites. Although there were a couple that sadly weren’t useable, Exemia has thankfully worked in a few similar keys throughout his albums. As always, that made a good starting point to begin building up a few sections in usual style. The freeform DJ staple of switching things up suddenly to escape from a transition wasn’t usually going to be an option here though, and once I realised the potential of working with multiple melodies together and numerous tracks in the same key, hand-waving away some dodgy transitions in between sounded like a terrible idea (and made the set itself sound terrible, too).

Instead a lot of effort went into harmonically mixing the set when it suited, Defend the Bass into Lone Wolf maybe being the most successful. The former’s breakdown has some unusual chords that give you some mixing leeway – until close to the final version of the set I was mixing that part with the basses switched and thought I had some clashing keys going on with Lone Wolf, but it was mostly down to that breakdown and its unusual sounds.

That’s not to say it was smooth sailing from that point, as yet more time was spent changing up the order of tracks within sections or experimenting with different harmonic options to keep the flow of the set right. Boombox Squad was almost the set opener, but as it’s got a slightly different style it worked better as a way to switch things up towards the end. Besides that, Digital Blizzard – When the sun sets is one of my favourite combinations, so I was happy to settle on that. Even the Lone Wolf to Revenge of the Vampire section that some might know from my b2b with Shimotsukei was reordered many times before going back to the orginal. What I was trying to do in the older set (smoothly mix two tracks at their busiest sections as if it’s a normal intro-outro transition) is almost impossible without an extra hand, so here I did something similar to the Lagash – Psychokinesis transition in the FINRG Podcast, being careful of the bass in both tracks and mixing almost completely with the faders rather than the EQ. It’s not 100% there in either transition, but a pretty good effort.

The other important ordering consideration was something mentioned early in the post – as much as I love Retribution’s sound, those older, emotional synthy tracks should be just as central to an Exemia set. Finding the balance was important, so the Retribution material was used to add some extra power and drive when it felt right. To that end, fairly small sections of some tracks were used either to keep the pace up or briefly add a breakdown to the set. So many of the transitions are unlike those I’d usually do in a freeform set that it was an enjoyable challenge to keep things moving smoothly.

It’s been a while since we had some chaotic behind the scenes notes, so here we go:

 

This was the point at which the set was being more concretely ordered, but there was so much going on that I had to make some extra notes to remind me about cue points and starting times. I had this paper to hand while mixing the Twitch stream, but had recreated the DJ booth atmosphere a bit too authentically and couldn’t really see it. It went ok on the whole though, and thankfully things were pretty much committed to memory by the time of the rerecording.

The hope was that this is a set that encourages multiple listens – tracks this good definitely deserve the effort I put in, and hopefully it does them justice. If it inspires everyone to check out more of Exemia’s music (and maybe even mixing it themselves) then that’s mission accomplished.

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?

All systems go for the second attempt at TYFTH Live 008, a year and a half later. I’ve been testing out all the necessaries this week, and a final secret test stream a few minutes ago (only a quick sound test) was the final check needed. The main event’ll be starting at 19:30 JST, with a few minutes for sound checking before that.

Tomorrow’s stream will be an Exemia-only freeform set, something I’ve been cryptically referencing on Mastodon for a while now. It’s been lots of fun but a big challenge to put this one together, with tricky transitions all over the place. It’ll be recorded and uploaded as and when (or rerecorded if there are any disasters), but  all are welcome to stop by the usual place for the live version!

A couple of weeks ago I uploaded this Cogi set to YouTube and was meaning to add it here too, partly in the hope of getting some help with the tracklist. This is pretty vintage stuff, probably recorded sometime around 2008-10 and rescued from an old CDR. YouTube’s copyright claims came in handy for once, flagging up a few tracks to get things started – aside from Ultraworld 5 I wouldn’t be able to put a name to any others.

The set itself is excellent, showing of Cogi’s aggressive-with-the-melancholy set construction style and some really nice transitions. An absolutely recommended listen if you haven’t already, and although it isn’t up on SoundCloud there’s a download link for the set in the video description.

If for whatever reason you’ve visited TYFTH in the past few days, you might not have noticed the change of address – the site has finally moved to a new host and cleared up the issues that stopped the posting last year.

To celebrate, here’s a set of older NRG that I’ve been working on occasionally for the past few months. It’s been in the planning stages for a lot longer than that, but after hearing Alek’s Lab 4 mashup I was able to work that in and finally get the whole thing done. I even did a couple of set tests on twitch recently – although the issues with that last year were a lot more complex than one faulty cable, sound seems to be back again, from what I can tell.

The TYFTH site is back, then, but it’s a busy time for me and things won’t be too lively around here or on twitch for the forseeable. Saying that, there are some interesting happenings on the horizon that I’ll definitely mention here, as and when.

For the time being, hope you enjoy the set.

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.

Current circumstances seem to have been the trigger for a few DJs to return to mixing, happily including Asahi who was way ahead of the general Japanese curve a couple of weeks ago. This is much more of an industrial set than NRG, but not something you’re going to hear anywhere else and comes very recommended.

Asahi has nailed the Dark Dimension atmosphere, with some industrial anthems combined with Grimsoul (!), Lab4, and even Configsys PROJECT. I know from experience how hard industrial can be to mix, what with those unconventional structures and short intro/outros, making the construction here all the more impressive. Extra respect for the use of Resurrection, perfectly placed as an energetic centrepiece to the set.

Although there are a couple of wobbly moments in the second half that I’d put down to a combination of indutrial weirdness and Asahi’s rustiness, the selection’s still superb and they’re certainly nothing to worry about.

Give this a try, then, as even if you’d prefer more NRG it will very likely inspire a few new mixing or listening ideas.

01. god destruction – Across the light
02. Phyton VS Grimsoul – Phantom
03. Seileen – Lanmento della sirena
04. X SICKFREAK – Open Your Eyes
05. Cyferdyne – Cables and Codes
06. Lab4 – Resurrection
07. Alien Vampires – All The Fakes Mast Die(Benjamins Plaue Remix)
08. Hocico – Born to be Hated
09. Alien Vampires – Hell Descent
10. Reaxion Guerrilla – Sacrifice(Asinaptico Remix)
11. Aim&Execute – Phantom Energy
12. T3rror 3rror – Domination
13. Configsys PROJECT – Ode To Charli

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.