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.
I was listening to Proteus’ Hard NRG V recently, and Lou Cypher Project’s Plague jumped out me as one of those nice early-era NRG tracks. It turns out that Lou Cypher Project’s are all available on their SoundCloud, with 7 or 8 in the Weirdo-esque style of Plague. My favourite is The Next Level, as its harder kick and low-end heavy synths could still do the job in a Hardcore for Life style set. Old news for many I’m sure, but check these out if you’re in the market for some retro NRG.
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.
A quick reminder for anyone who hasn’t checked out the return of Cyrez yet to do so asap. Beyond the Void is essentially a Hybridized Private Demon Part 2, sharing some of the same riffs (and maybe even a few samples). It’s a slightly slower, but more complex track than Private Demon with an especially nice intro and melodic drop in the second half.
‘Buy this track’ is all that’s needed for this post, with the caveat that this seems to be a Junodownload exclusive for the time being.
FINRG Legacy might have started with the novelty value of me releasing a track, but now we’re into ‘future classic’ territory with Nomic’s Phoenix Down. Since Nomic’s last release we’ve seen plenty of freeform productions inspired by him, but it only takes the intro to remind you what a different level he’s always worked on. An utterly beautiful piece of work.
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.
For those of us who aren’t using Facebook/Instagram, here’s a link to Proteus’ recently released book. His final event is scheduled for the end of this year, and this book covers his career up to 2022, in both Finnish and English. It’s available via Rebel Hell Entertainment in normal and special editions.
A quick post here for anyone else who might have missed this fine release last year from FutureProof Sounds. Known of course for their freeform, here FPS have come up with an excellent Decion/Alchemiist combo around the 155bpm mark.
Decion’s track is on the harder end of the style he has become known for since, and (super clean modern production aside) would have fitted right into the Hybridize lineup back in the day with its bright melody/nasty synth combos. A great track – for a hard dance set with some psy elements, this could be just the thing.
Alchemiist continues to keep up my interest in the traditional style of Hard NRG, which is almost universally disppointing when I hear it from other producers. I wouldn’t put Bombing Run up there with the very best of his older NRG, but it’s a solid track, again with some impressive production.
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.
TYFTH has been in cryostasis for a year or so, and truth be told I haven’t been listening to much freeform either. The chronic lack of new releases was part of the reason, but Exemia’s Retribution almost made up for this all by itself. Freeform album of 2021 without a doubt, and his strongest so far, which is saying something.
The balance is spot on here, with some real weight to the kick/bass alongside some complex melodies. They’ve always been an Exemia strong suit, but this time I can also hear an occasional Qygen influence (maybe something from the Blue Revolver days?) that works excellently. The creativity on show here’s pretty incredible, from nastier work like Cultist Killer to the beautiful almost-finale When the sun sets.
Make sure to show some support if you haven’t already – even with signs of the scene waking up a little, it really needs more artists of Exemeia’s level to keep it going.