Yesterday saw the release of Byproduct’s New Game+, a huge album of old and new that features many of his very best tracks from recent sets. The 14-track album is freely downloadable from Byproduct’s SoundCloud (at 160kbps, note), but things get really special if you do the right thing with a bandcamp purchase – the quality goes up to FLAC/wav levels and an extra 14 tracks are included, many of them classic remixes.

If you’re a freeform-only kind of soul, then the Concorde remix should be of interest, as well as Robotics, an excellent collaboration with Paokala/Alek Száhala. Anyone else will need little convincing – Byproduct’s trademark melodies are sounding better than ever in a lot of the newer productions, and I’d say 28 tracks from one of the most unique artists around is an absolute must-buy.

The other day I stumbled on this YouTube upload of a classic Carbon Based live set, unaware or forgetful that it has been on the FINRG SoundCloud for the past six years. It’s a great one though, so even if old news for you it’s certainly worth a revisit.

The lack of tracklist is a shame, what with the inclusion of a couple of still-unreleased tunes, but regardless it’s nice to have the chance to enjoy a full set of Carbon Based. There are some lovely tempo switches throughout, while the final combo of Anger Ball into Psychotherapy still does the business today.

edit: Thanks to Jambato for starting us off with a tracklist in the comments – I’ll add it here in case anyone can make some additions:

01. Intro
02. CB – Fairy Play @ 2:50
03. ? @ 7:40
04. CB – Dark Side (remix?) @ 14:05
05. CB – Ultimate Protection (Intro mix?) @ 20:50
06. Proteus & Carbon Based – Heavy Fusion @ 24:23
07. CB – Ultimate Protection @ 31:06
08. ? @ 37:00
09. CB – Underworld Species @ 43:19
10. CB – Anger Ball @ 48:43
11. CB – Psychotherapy @ 54:30

What’s happening here, then? Since the album release I’ve been neglecting my to-do list and instead TYFTH and music-related stuff has been pretty scattergun as I fit it around Real Life. Time to change that, starting with a spruce up of the site itself in preparation for the new forum.

As I’m usually safely tucked away in WordPress’ dashboard it has taken a while for me to realise quite how antiquated and user-unfriendly the site’s theme has become. The design was great, for sure, and that aesthetic tied in perfectly with a lot that went on here, but goodness me there was wasted space everywhere, now-redundant sidebars and cramped space for images and video. While I’m sure there are a million other options I could have gone for, with a few tweaks I think this might do the job very well – it’s intentionally a lot more minimal, has a nice amount of room for images (and even a new header), and also includes some actually-useful features like a ‘recent comment’ box on the right.

My reckoning is the new useability will make up for any pining over the loss of dark twirly design touches, but do let me know what you think. The other factor is the upcoming forum, and this will definitely allow more space for it – unfortunately the pilot version will likely be a desperately basic, vanilla effort, until I work out a few styling tricks. If anyone would like to help out on that front, please get in touch.

No more time this evening, but a few posts to test this layout will be on the way soon, and there could even be some forum action over the weekend…

ReBuild is back once again with a hefty 3 CD release, of most interest to me (and many Horsers, I expect) for the inclusion of Nomic’s Shattered. A new Nomic track is always an event, and this is another of those mid-set, atmospheric pieces of freeform that he has really made his own.

Sadly the rest of the album is aimed firmly in the UK hardcore direction – possibly a tough sell if you only have eyes for Shattered, but orders can be placed here.

Thought you knew Nomic’s back catalogue pretty well, did you? A rude awakening awaits, as Shimotsukei has gone delving into the obscure and beautiful for another must-listen of a set.

This set very wisely takes a different approach than Nomic’s own live PAs and mixes, with older, experimental tracks heavily represented alongside some classics. With such a huge selection to choose from it’s a shame the set doesn’t go for as many melodic transitions as I was hoping for*, but the tracklist is fabulous and it most definitely has its quality combination moments.

With any other freeform artist you might complain at Leijonakuningas opening things and sticking around for a good 5 minutes or so, but for Nomic it sets the tone perfectly – you know that this is going to be something out of the ordinary. The excellent edit of Human Race follows, introducing a long sequence of trademark orchestral tracks that (utterly great though they are) don’t really have the power to be heard through club PAs very often these days.

Towards halfway is where the set comes into its own, I think – the combination of Etkö ymmärrä and Guardian Spirit is a real winner, before the bpm really starts picking up for the final third. The Black Cage is a fantastic track that I haven’t even heard before, while This Is The New Shit into Painajaiskarkoittaja is as good a use of two of my favourites as you’ll find anywhere (assuming you can find anyone else playing them, that is).

The final section from Battle of Dawn is the side of Nomic we rarely hear, but is a totally fitting finish for a top class set that manages something pretty special – covering all of Nomic’s trademark sounds but steering clear of too many anthems.

* I’ve since discovered that this was an improvised set streamed live, making it even more impressive.

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.

I’ve been meaning to get this post online for a week or so, but now it’s especially timely – Cave/Raizing-inspired shmup Blue Revolver was released today (JST) on Steam, and is essential if you’ve even the slightest interest in the genre.

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.