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.
Father Time gave me another slap in the face recently when I realised Melancholia’s last soundcloud set was eight(!) years ago. Almost as surprising is that nobody else has since come close to his hyperactive, genre-mashing brand of freeform/hardcore mixing, so it’s a genuine treat to hear him back at it. There’s no real point of comparison, but those who enjoy Shimo’s current mixing style are at least headed in the right direction. In short, it’s best not to worry too much about the tracklist – tracks appear so briefly and/or mashed up with others that you’ll likely be readjusting to a new tune before you realise it.
Saying that, the opening ticks all the TYFTH boxes with a very strong Betwixt/Guld start. It’s fitting that Aryx and Alek Szahala’s Byrgius is the centrepiece for one of the smoothest segments of the set (just listen to that inspired mix into Stargazer), but another of Melancholia’s strengths is knowing when to get through a transition without mixing in key when the flow of the set needs it. He balances the two approaches almost perfectly, meaning you never know quite what to expect from one section to another. This set also keeps up the tradition of throwing plenty of extra samples into the mix – some of the UK freeform-esque monologues in the longer breakdowns are very similar to past sets and do a fine job of giving the set even more of a distinctive identity, but you might be caught off guard by the extremely wholesome appearances here and there of Melancholia himself.
There’s plenty more that could be said, but I’m sure you get the idea. Whether you’re more of a listener or DJ, this is another inspired, superbly mixed celebration of hardcore by Melancholia, and comes as highly recommended as any set this year.
Anyone pining for emotional pianos and filtery leads has to check out Ri-nergy’s second promo set, as they don’t get any better than this in the current freeform scene. It’s also time to stop the Nomic comparisons now that Ri-nergy has developed such a strong style of his own – taking plenty from the master himself of course, but sounding very ‘modern Japanese freeform’ in the best possible way. There are lots here that I’ve already had in mind for a set, and others that I’ll be checking out asap, thanks to an extremely useful tracklist with links to various compilations.
The mix itself has a few more uncomfy moments in transition than the first promo set, but they don’t stick around for too long. As always, it’s a lot easier to forgive them in an artist set, and it does avoid the other tedious extreme of trundling though the DJ-friendly intro and outro section of every track. The tracks themselves are superb, with some genuinely standout emotional moments that match anything we’ve heard in the last decade. I’ve even noticed Ri-nergy’s releases popping up in the occasional UK freeform set, so he’s probably doing more than anyone right now to nudge both listers and DJs back towards the sounds of the golden era. A special mention too for Ende’s wonderful visuals that accompany the YT version of the set – I hope we see more of this in the future.
I’ve plenty more sets to mention, so stay tuned, and there’ll be at least one new one from me pretty soon – more about that on Mastodon.
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…
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.
Let’s start the year off with a few things that I should have mentioned at the end of last one. The first is thanks to Shimo again, and an older set that some will have heard already. I somehow totally missed it at the time though, and it’s a very pleasant surprise to see the level of back catalogue that Risa/Rinergy has been building up over the past year or so.
If you’ve been paying attention recently then you’re already familiar with the excellent Ordeal, released late last year on Khaosnet Civilization 3, but it doesn’t even find a place in this promo set. Impressively there are a fair few tracks here that match its Nomic-esque emotional melodies, and a couple that get as close to Nomic’s style as anyone has managed for a long time. There’s also a pleasing preference for filtery leads – I’ve long thought they can improve even the most unispired freeform melody, so when they’re used with Ri-energy level of composition we’re really talking.
Overall it’s a nice combination, as those filtered melodies have something of a Substanced/Hyphen feel while the piano and swelling strings steer things in more of a Nomic direction. This is also a brilliantly constructed set with (a couple of exceptions aside) some quality transitions that are as good as you’ll hear in an artist set/live PA affair. While the final Substanced remixes aren’t my thing at all they’re a good example of how Ri-energy’s production range stretches a lot further than the excellent but pretty consistent style we’ve heard for the previous 50 minutes.
Obviously a recommended set then, and if ever CODEX is to make a reappearance Ri-energy gets my vote for a Live PA slot on the lineup – I’d love to hear a set like this in a club setting.
It’s looking like the scene has woken up a bit again, led by this recent, big release from Artificial World. A first glance had me thinking this was very much on the melodic side and I wouldn’t find much that suited TYFTH, but I’m glad I paid more attention as there’s all sorts happening here, from the expected UK-influences to more ferocious high bpm sounds, via a couple of impressive deeper sounding tracks that have a Nomic feel to them.
It’s the latter that really caught my ear, chief among them Ikura’s Breathe Out. It’s such a fine line for me these days between a Nomic-style emotional track and the moment when the melodies go that bit too UK-happy, but this track keeps the balance about right, with the melancholy breakdowns a highlight. Ri-energy’s Ordeal is in a similar vein, with repetitive melodies and a great atmosphere, even stepping things up a couple of levels for the final, beautiful breakdown. My first couple of listens have me a concerned for the lack of weight in the kick and bass, but I’ll be keeping this one in mind for sure.
The rest of the ‘slower’ freeform has some very well produced material, my favourites of which would definitely be Hypersonic and Lamia, while polaritia’s track is the high bpm highlight for me. A mention for the chirpy A Little Bit Adventure, I quite enjoy this sort of electro-y freeform now and then. Believe or not I can imagine GULD really liking the breakdown – it hits the sweet spot now and then between uplifting and melancholy that he would occasionally fit into a set.
There’s lots more going on obviously, so check this release out for yourself and show it some support. I probably should have mentioned earlier how great it is to see some new/unfamilar names on the tracklist, as well as the pleasing combo of old and new styles. Very recommended.
Thanks to Shimo (again) I’ve learned of another quality older track that surely would have appeared in my sets if I’d known about it earlier. Thanatos’ Flashback is a real oldie, released on the Hardcore from S. Iemitsu compilation in 2006.
It’s got that melancholy-but-uplifting feel of some older Japanese freeform, and I could definitely see it fitting into one of my modern sets, maybe linking nicely with some darker Twisted Freq or Re-form.
What’s this, another recent set to check out? Hedonistik Ritual is now settling into a schedule with his Hard Tranceformers podcast, a hugely impressive two-hour session of trance up to freeform. I’m biased this time, but even as someone who doesn’t care much for (non Goa) trance or hard trance these sets are excellent. Enough variety to keep anyone interested, and some quality track introductions and other info from Hedonistik while he plays.
This time it’s Cyhyraeth that made an appearance in a set – superbly mixed in after Powers Beyond(!) and followed by Drug Abuse, something I never would have imagined. Aside from being played at an in-person event I can’t imagine there are many better feelings than hearing another DJ do something creative with one of your tracks, so this was a real treat. Special thanks to Hedonistik for the kind words while introing the tune, and extra kudos for nailing the cyhyraeth pronunciation.
Early impressions are that these podcasts are (unsurprisingly) getting a wider listening audience than the usual freeform veterans, making them a fine entry into our reawakening scene for trance/hard trance fans.