Jumping to the front of the TYFTH posting queue is this EP of unreleased, remastered Cyrez tracks from around 2005. Hope is the only one (I think) I’ve heard before, and while it’s firmly on the hard trance side of Cyrez’s style the other two are the kind of aggressive NRG that he’s always been so good at. Malicious in particular is absolutely fantastic, sounding like an Epyx & Cyrez track if early 2000s Proteus joined in for a collaboration. The tracks all more than hold their own when mixed with more recent productions, and the remaining grittier, older sounds are for me what make them so good. They’re available on Cyrez’s Engrams of Cyrez bandcamp, so make sure to show all the support to one of the best releases of the year so far.
Long-time Horsers might spot the influences in Decion’s Louhi, but it stands on its own as one of the strongest NRG tracks I’ve heard for a long time. This one manages the tricky feat of sounding rough and gritty despite the super-clean production, and that atmospheric breakdown is doing all the right things. Bonus atmosphere points for the mythological theme – this version on Decion’s SoundCloud has some useful info that makes the track a more rewarding listen (and has given me the kick I needed to revisit the Kalevala). Anyway, keep this one favourited, so as not to miss the summer release date.
Not much to add to the title really, but thanks to Guld for letting me know about this rather fine Photic Zone remix a couple of days ago. No sign of a release anywhere yet, though?
If you’re as much of an Exemia fan as me you’ll already know that he was signed up by NGDEV to work on Gunvein’s OST. I was definitely planning to give the soundtrack a mention anyway, but for full disclosure I was kindly gifted a promo copy by Exemia around the time of release. It seems the ‘freeform loving shmup fan’ demographic is marginally bigger than I expected, and for us especially this was one of the most interesting releases of 2022.
Like Gunvein itself, the OST has plenty of late-era Cave atmosphere to it, but (unsurprisingly) a much more authentic hardcore feel to most of the tracks. One of the drawbacks from a freefrom DJ’s perspective is the short running time – you’d need some nimble mixing to get many of these into a set. That’s obviously not the main goal here though, and the variety is what makes this a fine listen even unmixed.
There’s more drum and bass here than I was expecting, but if anything less guitar – this is a very DoDonPachi inspired game, after all. No surprise that Exemia absolutely nails the stage 1 theme, with enough of a shmup feel to start things off followed by full freeform in the second half. Another favourite for me is Exhaled Haven, both a superb boss theme and a track that would easily fit into an Exemia freeform set. An extra mention too for the chilled ending track with its lovely drums and chirpy main lead.
Lately I’ve been back to trying to 1cc Guwange among others (I’ll take talk of that to Mastodon, not here) so I haven’t yet given Gunvein the time it deserves. With the reception it’s had so far and the best OST since Blue Revolver (or GG Aleste 3 if we’re including non-freeform) it’ll likely be worth the wait.
Gopher alert! Anyone old enough to have caught my last twitch stream will remember Sherkel’s Concealed being the big surprise in the NRG section of the set, and it’s happily included in this excellent four track bandcamp release. The long, atmospheric breakdown means it should be used with care in a tracklist, but if I was still doing the ‘top 3 tracks’ roundups at the end of the year, it would most definitely make my list (even if I happened to ‘do a GULD’ and put Cyhyraeth in there too).
Although Concealed is my favourite track of the release, you’ll also find some of Sherkel’s finest hybrid freeform-NRG to date. Vampire Hunter is a superb mashup of filtered riffs that absolutely captures the ‘strangeness’ I’ve talked about before in some Finnish and Japanese tracks. If anything Lunar Typhoon is even more driving, upping the rapid melodies alongside some (slightly) less heavy filtering.
Hamehorinezumi no Yoru is fairly sedate by comparison, but another fine Einhander-influenced NRG track. There are some lovely, unusual touches in both the melodies and percussion here, though the hugely atmospheric outro is possibly my favourite section.
Kontraption of Death very highly recommended, and is a free release on Sherkel’s bandcamp.
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.
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.