If you’ve ever wondered what freeform jungle produced by Transcend would sound like, then this post combined with the previous one might get you somewhere close – another sample pack, but this time free and featuring a huge range of classic jungle/drum and bass samples from 1989-1999. It was compiled by veteran intelligent junglists Blu Mar Ten, and while it might only be Qygen who has effectively incorporated 90s jungle into freeform so far, there’s more than enough here to get anyone’s inspiration going.
Heading the post is fine example of BMT’s work in the 90s – the quality drum edits and beautiful atmosphere of Lunar.
Transcend has long been my favourite artist active in the UK freeform scene, even if the always-long breakdowns and trancier elements have done just enough to keep his tracks away from my own sets. This sample pack from Stamina is genuinely exciting then, as it gives artists and fumbling also-rans alike the chance to put their own spin on some of Transcend’s trademark sounds. Both demos have some brilliant sounding stuff, and the £23 asking price sounds very fair indeed for what I hope will become a long running series.
My first set of the year will be next month, as I’ve very kindly been invited back to join the freeform contingent of the Lucky Lotus festival. With things being a bit fraught these days I haven’t had time for a full set’s worth of prep, so instead I’m really excited to be putting together a b2b with Shimotsukei. We’ve started work on it and already there are a few surprises in store…
The rest of the event looks like the best LL so far, with a fabulous roster on the freeform/NRG side. Nomic, Alabaster, Guld, B.R.K., Lab 4, Raqhow, Hyphen, Evolutionize, and Solvynt – you couldn’t ask for much more than that. Other highlights would be a new Byproduct set, Dark by Design, and a very rare recorded set from Kanon.
The facebook event page is the place to check the full lineup and eventual timetable info, but we’ll of course find room for it here too, as and when.
Part of the reason for all this silence is me desperately scrabbling around behind the scenes, of course, but truth be told there hasn’t been an awful lot that’s caught my eye in the last few weeks. The release of SOLIDCORE IX is pretty noteworthy though, as it features Chemical Infusion, a very promising track from Hyphen.
The compilation was actually released today and might be worth seeking out, but reflecting the strength of the hardcore scene in Japan right now there isn’t too much else of use for the freeform crowd.
As a footnote, In Praise of Shadows took another big step forwards a day or two ago, and we’re on the brink of placing the order with the CD manufacturers. If I get myself organised there might be some other announcements later today…
I know, it’s already April and still no release – but it’s pretty good news once again as the ‘to-do’ list gets shorter by the week. A couple of days ago I received the mastered version of the CD2 mix, as well as the final master of one track that underwent some tweaks to boost the feeling of speed. I’m really happy with both, and now that the admin rabbit-hole of the liner notes has been dealt with too, we’re back with only the design work to be finished up.
Some fun stuff I’ll be doing in the meantime is deciding where the track markings should be placed in the mixed set, and chopping up the unmixed track preview clips that’ll go online before too long. The plan is to get both jobs finished before the end of the weekend, and then be poised to throw all the necessary at the CD production folk as soon as the graphics are ready.
It’s a bit of an injustice that Midas hasn’t had more mentions on TYFTH, as he’s been doing a brilliant job over the years of sneaking Finnish and Japanese sounds into his sets, both online and around the UK. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the UK freeform crew have Midas to thank for their first exposure to FINRG.
You won’t often hear Wizbit and Alek Szahala in the same mix, but Midas was on top form for his recent-ish Freeformaniacs set, deftly negotiating his way from nutty breakbeat hardcore to some classics of the darker side. I’ve been known to dabble in breakbeat hardcore myself, and it’s hard to resist some of these throwbacks to the amen-heavy mid-nineties, especially when mixed this well. Some teeth-gritting might be needed through the tracks that start sounding a bit too nu-skool, but we’re soon into some of the best of current UK freeform, including Transcend’s excellent Candyman remix.
Midas has often pushed the Hybridize era nasty-but-melodic sound, and here it works as a nice bridge into the darker final section. Morokai, Fluorite, Icy Clouds, Alchemiist’s Pain remix – you really couldn’t ask for a much better selection if you’re looking to introduce folk to our side of things. Quite the journey of a set, and one that’d easily grace the peak time of many a UK event, I reckon.
That 1997-1999 era was when the intelligent sound started heading along the road to oblivion though, and by 2000 the melancholy and deeper melodies had mostly been abandoned in favour of faster, less complex drums and endless sweeping pads. I felt at the time that this was a real last hurrah for the subgenre, and Alias has picked out every single one of my favourites in an excellently mixed set.
Coincidentally the other day I listened again to one of Bukem’s finest mixes from this era (Progression Sessions), which obviously had an influence on Alias’ tracklist, but there are also plenty of well selected jazzy tracks amongst the spacey tunes. The opening combo of The Rhyme Goes On and Do What You Gotta Do sets the standard, and the rest of the set does a fine job of living up to it. Occasional clashing pads aside, there are some brilliant connections in here – Mind Games followed by Planetary Funk Alert is a worthy centrepiece for the set.
A lot of the freeform crew might already have been listening to early NRG and trancecore by this stage, but this is essential listening for anyone with an interest in deeper dance music, especially if you missed these tunes at the time.
It’s very encouraging to see Hellfury’s continued support for the emotional side of freeform – the first half of his recent Freeformaniacs set is loaded with impressively mixed, long-break heavy tracks and downtempo interludes. The overall atmosphere ticks just about every box for me in terms of what quality freeform needs to be – thoughtful, melancholy, but also aggressive when the time is right.
The interludes here take it to an extreme, however, and it got me wondering what sort of a crowd would go for this in a live environment. I’m convinced there’s a club audience for this kind of break-heavy play style, but maybe somewhere other than the hardcore scene…thoughts for another time maybe, but it’s a very promising direction and I’d love to see Hellfury and others develop it further. Being picky I’d suggest that half-speed downtempo tracks that blend smoothly with the freeform would take it to the next level, but Hellfury’s selections here are a quality start.
The second half of the set is perhaps a nod to the upcoming N.E.M.M. compilation, with far older trancecore/freeform tracks mixed impressively into some newer material from Qygen. The combination works really well, and the energetic shift in tone from the first half opens up the set to even more potential listeners.
Quite the demonstration of how diverse a single set can be, then, and very highly recommended.
Label shenanigans are maybe one instrument too many for the TYFTH one-man band, but the past month has seen a lot of quality mixes and I’ll be highlighting a few when I have the chance.
First up is Cuedy’s recent Freeformaniacs set – an hour of standard-issue TYFTH-friendly tracks (which is a very good thing), punctuated by two or three really nice transitions and a couple of tracklist surprises.
Obvious shouts to Cuedy for starting with Betwixt & Between’s Eternal[l]y, followed by a really good connection in Alchemiist’s Pain remix. The rest of the set alternates between nastier filters and melodic interludes, and I was glad to see that classic tracks were given special attention in terms of transitions – we’ve all been listening to them for so long now, they really should. Eryk Orpheus’ Pyjama Sonata was a nice follow up to Supriya, while Alabaster’s Flamberge was the big surprise of the set. It was the final connection that really got me though, as the slightly chaotic blend of filtered riffs from Xerosis to Super Sonic shows off the older FINRG sound at its finest.
It’s always nice to see DJs in the freeform scene take the step up to production, and this time it’s Shimotsukei who has braved the divide with a fine debut tune. Working with hardcore producer Archari, his first track is a remix of a past Pokemon movie theme, but has more than enough elements to make it something distinct.
An understandable stumbling block for a lot of new producers (especially these days) is the inability to sound ‘authentic’ enough, or match the production levels of the established crew. The Guardian’s Song has little trouble here though, and to my ears has a little bit of the Hyphens about the acid and percussion. Plus of course the main theme is brilliantly chosen – even if the sample use is ever so slightly overkill in the main break it easily ticks all the boxes for the melancholy junkies in the audience.
What a great starting point then, and hopefully it’s an inspiration to others on TYFTH to take up the DAW and make a mark on the scene.