Something else I’ve been meaning to mention for a while is Psychic Formers, a new psy/freeform compilation, featuring the ever-present Hyphen and a lovely comeback track from ikaruga_nex.
Variety looks to be the goal here, and while there are also quality, high bpm tunes from Ata and polysha, the rest of the album takes a gentler stroll through some slow paced, melodic psy. This could be another chance for new listeners to join the scene, then, though the release is currently only announced for this year’s M3 event, taking place in Tokyo on Sunday.
Qygen’s not the only one going in interesting directions with freeform this year – one of the best releases of 2016 so far has now arrived, courtesy of Exemia.
Released earlier this month, Synthform is a pitch-perfect take on synthwave-as-freeform that really does sound like something new. The best frame of reference for us is probably Byproduct, but here with a harder edge that shows Exemia’s experience in the freeform scene. The addition of a mighty impressive Hyphen remix also means that this could be another Blue Revolver-esque gateway into the wider genre for new listeners.
My favourites so far are Defend the Bass and Digital Blizzard, but the whole album is top class and more than warrants a physical release. Instead it’s available on Bandcamp for free, but Exemia’s work deserves a lot more support than that and naming your price is surely the way to go for music of this quality.
Some news aimed at the based-in-Japan crowd here – as part of my efforts to broaden the audience for In Praise of Shadows I’m very pleased to say that the album has been on sale at Shibuya’s Guhroovy for a couple of days now.
TYFTH’s online store handling payments via PayPal is a bit of a problem in Japan, as it still doesn’t have much of a presence here. This has meant that the Japan crew have been at a disadvantage up to now and I’ve been hoping to give them some other options – it explains the very healthy sales on the first day at CODEX, but now anyone who missed that has this avenue.
It’s also a biggie for another reason, as having the label’s first release on the shelves of a music store is a pretty decent milestone – the fact that it’s Guhroovy makes it even better, as it comes almost exactly 10 years after I placed an order there (from the UK) for Khaotic Dimension. How far we’ve come, eh?
On that note, if you’re outside Japan then for goodness’ sake don’t order though Guhroovy, as the stock is fairly limited and getting the album from the TYFTH store is far cheaper thanks to the (in hindsight perhaps too generous) free postage worldwide.
What should be of interest to all Horsers is the soundtrack, composed by Qygen and featuring remixes from the likes of Hyphen, Exemia and Blue Phoenix. In Praise of Shadows aside, Qygen’s work here is far and away the best freeform I’ve heard this year, and it’s really exciting to consider how many people could be exposed to his sound if this release does as well as it deserves to.
The top of this post is a recent episode of STG Weekly, featuring Blue Revolver and its developers. Although my shmupping has lapsed a bit over the past year, I’ve been back at Guwange and Crimson Clover recently and can’t wait to give BR a proper go.
There aren’t as many Alek Szahala-only sets kicking around as you’d expect, so this 80 minute mix from Midas was a very pleasant surprise. The tracklist is an especially interesting one that sets off from an unusual starting point, runs through some darker classics, and ends on some faster darker classics.
You could hardly ask for better, and that unusual opening (starting with Lagash 2012) features some really brilliant transitions – Astraia and Avalanche were made for each other at this bpm, and Heaven & Hell is a great choice. Very nice to see Noitavasara in there (a tune I’ve been trying to use for the past year or so), while Hydra is yet another excellent, surprising selection. After the bpm has crept up this high, then why not finish with the traditional Xochitlan?
This set came to soon for any chance of Enuma Elish, but that aside, a quality tracklist and rock-solid mixing in typical Midas style make it very highly recommended.
An interesting take on the dark/melancholy formula here, in a set from DJ Danny Stokes. Recorded a few years ago, the set is anchored around a few heavily pitched up Lab 4 tracks – this might be a deal breaker for some, but it’s this and the surprising combo of Nu-Energy with darker tracks that are the noteable elements here.
Although personally I could do without tracks like Kevin Energy’s remix of Lumi, it’s tracklists like these that show the potential of coaxing more UK freeform-centric DJs towards the FINRG, EE, Kreatrix and (wait for it) TYFTH side of things. As an example, CLSM’s Revolution remix works brilliantly here as a link between Lab 4, with Adaption making perfect sense as a follow-up.
It’s thought-provoking stuff, before the second half of the set switches into a nicely mixed selection of old favourites. I have my own thoughts on how the TYFTH flavour of NRG and freeform can reach wider audiences, but sets like these (and Thumpa’s, obviously) show a another possible, optimistic attack vector on the less grimdark corners of the freeform world.
I mentioned this here and there last week, but I’d like to give Gabriel Wigren’s work another hat tip on TYFTH itself. He’s of course the artist behind In Praise of Shadows’ cover art, which should be reason enough for you to check out the rest of his portfolio posthaste.
The end result speaks for itself, but regardless lets do some speaking – the whole process was never less than incredibly professional, and with only my concept for the album and a few representative tracks (this was back in 2014, so before any of the In Praise of Shadows tracks were ready) Gabriel did an unbelievable job of visualising it all.
Whether you’re in the market for a commission yourself or just want to enjoy some dark, beautiful atmospheres, Gabriel’s devianart is very special indeed, and couldn’t come more highly recommended.
After Icon’s freeformish remix of Inner Universe I was hopeful that we’d hear some other versions that could fit more smoothly into a set – Hyphen has taken on the challenge, and come up with a very fine track that definitely lives up to expectations. There’s no overwheming the vocal with freeform elements here, but the pace is excellent and even with the acid lines and filters the production is somehow just as crisp as always. Definitely worth mentioning that the track is a free download from Hyphen’s SoundCloud, so there’s no excuse not to check this one out asap.
Slightly belated notice of a new(ish) set from me and Shimotsukei that went online recently and was part of Lucky Lotus 6 back in June. We decided to make things more interesting than the usual ‘one half each’ setup and try a more aunthentic back to back, alternating every few tracks. It all came together far easier than I was expecting, and there are a fair number of rarer/unreleased tunes amongst the classics.
Big thanks of course to Lucky Lotus and Shimotsukei for such a nice opportunity to take on something different, and I hope we’ll have a chance to give this another try in the future. Tracklist is below, and the set is downloadable on the FINRG SoundCloud.
[PD] 01. Tyranoid vs Strongstream – Spice／Epice 02. Epyx & Cyrez – Game Over (Tyranoid/Strongstream Remix) 03. Epilim – Rapid Fire [Shimotsukei] 04. Carbon Based & DJ Rx – Reptile 05. Pain On Creation & Fea – Unconsciousness 06. Epyx & Cyrez vs Fea – Untitled 4 Evah (Unfinished edit) [PD] 07. Nomic – Neptune 08. Alabaster – Galaxy 09. Re-form – Cyanide [Shimotsukei] 10. Epyx & Cyrez – Neverlasting 11. Le Dos-on – Rising Sun 12. Proteus – Venla [PD] 13. DJ RX – Hellfire 14. A+D+A+M Lab4 – Psychopath 15. GULD – Hannya 2 16. VICE TEK HEAVY INDUSTRY – 3M3SIS [Shimotsukei] 17. Betwixt & Between – Matsukin (Remix) 18. Nomic – Mutantit
Just realised that I gave a post-release update on Facebook but not here – mainly it’s to thank everyone for the support so far, and to let you know what’s been going on in the days since.
The release at CODEX was a big success, and from the first few minutes the online store went live there have been orders from all over the world. The FB announcement was to let people know that I made the first round of deliveries on Monday and Tuesday, but since then there have been plenty more and they’ll probably be sent out tomorrow.
Really heartfelt thanks to everyone for supporting and promoting the release, it gives me hope that there’s still an audience for our music and the potential for growth is definitely there. I’m hoping to get on the case with advertising more widely in other scenes, and there might need to be some alternative ways to buy the album for people in Japan, so stay tuned for that.
As an aside, I forgot how bad I am at packing anything, so apologies in advance for some over-enthusiastic efforts that might require a chainsaw to get through…