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.
The Horsers have been out in force to congratulate Sherkel on this already, but there should be no hiding in a roundup post for a track of this quality. Both a sign of how far Sherkel has come with his production and an absolutely superb example of how to do a remix, I’m in love with this one and feel pretty sure that both Hase and Betwixt would approve.
Although Sherkel perfected the Einhander style of filtering a long while ago, here he’s also found a lovely balance between his experimental side and NRG convention. The breakdowns make for an unusual structure that still works, thanks to a unique atmosphere and some incredible filtering that has a new trick in store every minute or so. Rounded out by some at-least-as-good-as-Einhander work on the fills and percussion and a very clean mastering job, this is fabulous stuff.
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.
It’s looking likely that my next ‘studio’ set will include a U-F SEQUENCER track, so this caught my eye right away. As a free release you’ve got nothing to lose either way, making Thunderbolt a strong choice if you’re experimenting with Japanese sounds in your melodic freeform sets.
I’ve often thought that U-F SEQUENCER has quite a lot in common with Betwixt in his more conventional freeform moments, as there’s a peculiar style to their melodies that you don’t very often hear anywhere else (ikaruga_nex might be another?). SEQUENCER’s tracks don’t tend to go to that next (Betwixt) level, but there’s a lot to like here and I’m going to try working with Thunderbolt when I find some other contenders in this style.
Make sure to look through SEQUENCER’s bandcamp if you haven’t before, there’s so much good work there that deserves to get some play, both on the freeform and hardcore sides.
Bad news first – there’s no freeform here, or the high bpm psy/goa influenced stormers we’ve heard before from Synesthesics’ alias, Mellow Sonic. Instead Transcending Consciousness is a phenomenal album of atmospherics that draws on some similar elements, and should have at least something of interest for many Horsers.
Starting with the clearest Psychokinesis influences, then, Celestial is my favourite of the goa/psy-styled tracks. Somewhere around 150bpm, it’s a lovely, deep acid track that inevitably had me wishing for more of the freeform that I fell in love with last time around. These are great tracks though, living up to their sci-fi styling to such a degree that they’d probably be tough to mix with the majority of goa. Adding some depth to a psytrance set could be where they’d shine, but what would I know about that?
The album’s title track could well be my favourite, some superb breaks that easily match Alek Szahala’s experiments along these lines. One of those genres I’d like to get more into, but it would have to be up to this quality for me to take interest. Proper melancholy cyberpunk atmospheres here, I think it’s fantastic.
The second half of the album is the highest standard of drum and bass production I’ve yet heard from Synesthesics, and even if it’s not my preferred genre some similar atmospheres are continued here. I’m no expert on more sci-fi styled drum and bass, but this is excellent stuff that gave me older Black Sun Empire feelings in places.
The wait continues for more Mellow Sonic freeform, but this is an inspiring mix of styles to enjoy in the meantime, and comes highly recommended.
Anyone following Shimotsukei’s SoundCloud will have noticed a recent burst of incredible mashups, mostly featuring Betwixt & Between – but for everyone else, it’s about time I pointed out a couple of favourites.
So far, of the uploaded versions, I’m probably the biggest fan of Phaedra’s Hypnodisc, a lovely, aggressive mashup that somehow balances the odd atmospheres of both tracks to come up with something new. Both have detuned sounds all over the place that make ‘normal’ mixing difficult enough, but this mashup impresses as it keeps it all together. The extra weight at the lower ends also benefits both, making them a lot more playable in more modern sets. A really incredible effort and the best (online) example so far of what Shimotsukei’s been working on.
Check it out at Shimotsukei’s SoundCloud along with the ambitous Tindaros Invasion, another highlight. You Are Surging, meanwhile, is a quality mashup but still not enough to make me listen to Betwixt’s remix of You Are, something I’ve never been able to play all the way through thanks to some truly painful vocals.
Now’s probably also a good time to mention Shimo’s superb Megabyrgium, a mashup that deserved its own post a couple of years ago and still holds up brilliantly. Still no download, but an absolute must-listen.
Not having been able to properly keep up with things in the scene has meant that I missed the massive leap B.R.K. has taken into the top tier of NRG artists over the past year or so. Better late than never, then, here’s his first Fatal Energy Records release as supporting evidence for that bold claim.
Granted, LOE, FIH is on the slower end of the scale and fits more into the hard trance/dance categories, but just listen to the production levels and complexity going on here. The fills and acid lines put even the pre-break section a step above B.R.K.’s older tracks, while the main melody doesn’t overdo it – simple and catchy’s all that’s needed in amongst the rest of the sounds. A crucial element there is the excellent mastering job of course, another night-and-day improvement.
If this is too sedate to fit into your own sets or listening tastes then I can say with authority that you still have to watch out for B.R.K.’s upcoming material. What I’ve heard so far easily keeps up this standard (but well into the bpms we’re more used to) and will surely be signed up to labels in the very near future.
That’s the TYFTH definition of ‘new,’ of course, so there’ll probably be plenty here you’ve seen before. Either way, I had a lot of catching up to do after summer and these are some of the tracks that have caught my eye since.
Last start with an obvious one – Risa & polaritia’s Raise Your Hands. Great to see it appearing on FINRG, this is a lovely NRG track with a little something different added by polaritia. Really nice sounds in this one, but be aware that it’s very much at NRG bpm. The full version can be found on beatport.
Risa and polaritia also appear on Genkai Records 15, another ambitious multi-genre compilation. Must admit I’m dubious how many people will be keen enough on every genre to go for the entire release, but praise be for the bandcamp option of picking up individual tracks. Risa’s S.O.S. is as solid an NRG track as you’d expect, while Multiverse Glitch is a superb freeform effort that’s up there with my favourites from polaritia. On the downside I’m really not a fan of the mastering on the track, as there are some pretty piercing highs and an overall treatment that doesn’t work well with the grittier oldies or the unbelievably clean job done on many new freeform tunes.
Next up isn’t a release, strictly speaking, as exemia’s CultistKiller is one of a group of tracks that might appear on a future album. Partly made with a Gameboy DMG, this is an absolutely brilliant track and one of my favourites of the whole year. Expect loud announcements of any release here, as and when.
Finally for now is a quality step off the beaten path for Transcend in the first release on his new label, Glowmind. This collab with Freedom almost sounds like something that could have appeared on Kreatrix back in the day, and also reminds me of classics like Kinky. Although early mixing practice with this one has been pretty challenging thanks to the oddly feeble kick and bass in the first half, I’m sure this would sound fantastic in the right set. The full release is on the Glowmind bandcamp.
Not much to add to the title, but an extra apology for the delay as I know some have been waiting for the store page to wake up again. I’ve restocked on packaging and will be able to send out any orders pretty soon after they arrive – it’ll be the same setup as last time, with me aiming to send any out within 3 days. If it ends up being longer for whatever reason then I’ll drop you a message via email to let you know. There’s no tracking on the deliveries, but if you’ve placed an order and would like to know exactly when I sent it out, chase me up via email and I’ll be happy to check.