I should give a quick mention to this here – it’s been a long enough wait, after all. My Hell’s Gate remix has been hidden away on SoundCloud for a few months, as I had to add the track to Spotify as a way to set up an artist profile (a bizarre process that doesn’t need explaining here). Although that was all for FINRG purposes, it was in the back of my mind to add to TYFTH’s ‘free tracks‘ section while I was at it. If I had my way it would have quietly appeared there with little fanfare, but that’s not the way SC does things. With some talk about Hell’s Gate recently, here it is at last.
This version is actually the ‘easier to mix’ edit I did after finishing the original, but both are essentially the same. In theory I could work on a ‘2022 remix’ at some point, but as even typing that drains all enthusiasm instantly, it’s probably better to leave Hell’s Gate in the past at this point. Unbelievably the track still stands up pretty well, with a very similar second half to Zio’s original, and the most ‘beginner’s luck’ breakdown you’ll ever hear.
Back in the day I used to rely on Midas for my UK freeform, as he would usually find a nice balance between the UK style and FINRG that gave a taste of what was happening in both scenes. More recently Hedonistik Ritual is definitely the one to watch for that, though as a producer and FINRG member he’s going a few steps further, of course. I’m a bit late mentioning this one, but his Exposed Events set was a fine example.
The set starts off with some Lab 4/Substanced/Carbon Based, easing into things before the UK freeform comes in. It’s always interesting to hear a mix of the two like this (even if this set is definitely more on the UK side), especially with Hedonistik’s energetic mixing style that always keeps the interest up. As many will know, he used to be (still is?) an MC, so he’s a natural at hosting and introducing this sort of streamed event.
Watch out especially for Hedonistik’s tracks, Pelko’s Hellchoir and a nice use of Kokomochi’s Megaptera towards the end.
1.Lab4 – Reformation (Nick the Kid Remix) Intro 2.Lab 4 – Reformation (Carbon Based Remix)
3. Substanced – Geneva pt 3 (Carbon Based Remix)
4. DJ Scot Project – O (Mark Sherry’s Acidburst Remix)
5. Alex Mo – Over the Rainbow
6. Hedonistik Ritual – Invasion
7. Pelko – Hellchoir
8. Aeon – Apostasy
9. Angel 0A – Psychokiller
10. Kokomochi – Megaptera
11. Kevin Energy & Afterburner – Escape Velocity
12. Impact – Phat as Phuck (A.B & Hedonistik Ritual’s Keep it Freeform Remix)
13. Ephexis – Sick Seduction
Like me you might have been learning more about the freeform scene in China recently, and the talented group of young DJs and producers who seem to be inspired by the sounds we favour around here. One of them, Asukarai Matsuri, has put together a fantastic mix that covers just about all the TYFTH bases.
The most impressive thing about the set overall is the transitions, both in how they sound and their originality. By halfway through my first listen I was looking forward to each new one, wondering how the next track would appear. Needless to say, that’s not the case in 99% of freeform sets, and even though some were more successful than others this is very impressive for such a new DJ. There are some superb, in-key combinations like Children into Rachel’s Song and A Mind On Its Own with Skybreak, plus some ‘close enough’ transitions like Ziggurat – Gozenzeuna and Deimos – Surendrajit. There’s also a superb sequence of Hase/ThermalForce that keeps the energy of the set going despite the two long back-to-back breaks of Brionac and Meditation. Another good sign of set construction sense is that there isn’t another breakdown of similar length until the much later Fall 4 You.
Of course the danger with those ‘close enough’ transitions is that sometimes you’ll push it too far and they start to stand out, especially in a mix with so many smooth, in-key combinations. That’s the case with Surendrajit – Falling Star, which doesn’t quite work and yet becomes a very lengthy blend. It doesn’t sound bad, but when the previous 45 minutes have had some very impressive moments, it can’t help but be jarring.
Something that might put first-time listeners off is the occasional messiness of the early transitions, but things clear up a lot in the second half. It seems that this could have been a streamed set, in which case it’s totally understandable and might just have been early set nerves/tech stuff. Either way, it’s something that’ll only get cleaner with experience (something I know all too well).
It’s a real pleasure to hear a new generation take on the sound we’ve all been pushing for so long, and to already be creating such impressive sets makes it even better. I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next, both in terms of new takes on NRG sets but also new productions.
If you’re dedicated enough of a Horser to still be visiting these realms this is already old news, but either way it’s about time to mention that my first official release, Cyhyraeth, is appearingonFINRG today. Although it probably sounds laughable to all those artists with dozens of releases to their names, for this long-time non-producing DJ a release on FINRG has to be up there in the top 3 career highlights. Not only that, mind – Cyhyraeth is release 001 of FINRG Legacy, the new home for freeform that continues the lineage of the original Finnish sound. One of the nicest responses I’ve had to the track was ‘It makes me feel the darkness of the 2000s,’ and that was exactly what I was going for. I’m not in a position to put together another In Praise of Shadows right now, so this track was an attempt to point back to those incredible early atmospheres, for all the freeform newcomers who didn’t experience them in the mid-2000s (or the veterans who have since forgotten them – which seems like a sizeable crowd too).
It won’t be much of a surprise to learn that I’ve been working on various incarnations of this track and others for years, especially given my approach to mix planning. It’s in the last year or two, though, that I decided to really take the production side more seriously. The rule was to finish at least one original track before working on any remixes, and so here we are.
I wonder how many other DJs can relate to this, but after years of playing most of the genre’s all-time greatest tracks, it’s been unbelievably intimidating to try something of my own. After plenty of wrestling with this, I finally came up with three requirements for anything new before it would go public:
Would I play this track in a set of my own?
Would it make me dance?
Would it fit into a mid-2000s FINRG set?
Cyhyraeth is far from a perfect track of course, but eventually I got to a point of ‘Yes’ in answer to all of those. Happily it also felt that I was forming a bit more of a distinctive style while working through those questions, even if the ‘pale imitation of Alek’ aspect might always be there somewhere. Something I brought back from my mid-late 90s FastTracker days was to decide on the title first, as that always used to be super important in building an identity and atmosphere for the track (even in the odd breakbeat stuff I used to make back then). Cyhyraeth wouldn’t sound anything like this if I hadn’t kept that fairly disturbing Welsh myth in mind while putting it together.
There’s a lot of Goa influence too, which you’ll especially hear in the full version. It makes it harder to mix than some freeform tracks, but that was also intentional. Working a lot with Exemia’s tracks (or past Goa sets) reminded me of the obvious – mixing challenging tracks makes you a better DJ, no question.
Anyway, I’m very grateful for the positive/constructive feedback I’ve had on this track and I’ll be taking it all into the next one. Who knows when/if that’ll appear, but clearing this hurdle was a massive step that bodes pretty well. Final, massive thanks to Robin Petras for his wizardry on the mastering and solid gold feedback/advice throughout. After his incredible work on the compilation I was quick to get in touch with him this time, and somehow he outdid himself once again.
Thanks to Shimotsukei I saw this Tano*C stream recording for the first time the other day, including a rare video of a whole Betwixt & Between set (starting here). No live PA this time though, instead he’s mixing mainstream hardcore. He would often say that he preferred PAs because he didn’t know how to DJ, but he had some mixing experience by this stage and it’s a good effort.
Truth be told it’s hard to watch this without getting a bit emotional, especially considering the timing. Hopefully there are a few other sets/event videos floating around that I’ve missed up until now.
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!
For a while now I’ve been meaning to highlight Rinne Tensei as one of the best tracks of the year, so here it is alongside a very recent release.
polaritia’s track might have been missed by some, as it was hiding in the middle of a downtempo/electro-heavy release on Artificial World called Regenerate one’s own world. Even by Artifical World standards it’s full of diverse, leftfield tracks, so extra credit to polaritia for showing that you reach the same emotions at freeform bpm. His track touches on the UK freeform-meets-gentle-FINRG style that’s pretty much the default mode for Japanese releases these days, but the Nomic-influenced side of his production ensures there’s a lot more to it than that. Nomic aside, he’s definitely become one of the best producers in the scene at taking on these emotional piano breakdowns.
U-F SEQUENCER’s track is also on the melodic side, albeit with that trademark UFS crazed synth work here and there. It’d need some gymnastics to get this into one of my sets, but I’m a big fan after a couple of listens. Really nice work on the second half of the track, with even some echoes of late-era Betwixt here and there. Free download on this one, by the way.
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.