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I’m slow (of course) to mention the most recent FINRG podcasts, but even if you’ve heard them before they’re well worth a revisit as DJ case studies.

Listening to these sets you can hear right away what freeform means to each DJ, with both featuring some similar tracks as part of two very different atmospheres. JNKS’ 64 minutes goes from happy/UK hardcore to some solid gold FINRG and back again, while Alchemiist plays some surprisingly melodic freeform, connected to neurofunk and hardcore by a few darker oldies.

JNKS’ selection is spot on, with a huge number of later-era happy anthems (including remixes to keep veterans of the early 90s happy), while the potentially hazardous transition into the FINRG section is very nicely handled. You really can’t beat the gritty sound of tracks like Killer Instinct and Illuminate, and of course it’s nice to see the obligatory Alek appearance.

Alchemiist’s steady progression into the non-freeform final third is just as well handled, but the standout section of the set was a more conventional one. I might prefer the original PVC, but the transition from Ghost of Jupiter into Lost Soul’s remix is still top class and a worthy centrepiece to the set. Absolutely lovely stuff.

Both essential listens then, as is the entire podcast series so far.

Yet more release announcements, this time for the huge, freeform-only Lucky Lotus compilation, Before the Dawn. I can’t the only one who’s been hoping for something like from LL for a while now, and this is a high quality cross-faded preview. Also an impressive tracklist, with some veterans anchoring things in amongst the new faces and a lot of Japanese representation. I haven’t heard the full tracks yet, but going on this preview and others I’ve heard Kounta Kulture’s Cannibal Girl might be the most immediately promising. Definitely looking forward to a leisurely listen of the whole release, though.

The other good news is that the compilation will be released in little over a week via the LL bandcamp – the official date is 10th March.

Even though Dark Dimension’s been pretty sporadic for the past few years it has made a strong case to be the best harder, darker event in Tokyo since the end of NRGetic Romancer. The lineups have been hit and miss, but last year’s anniversary event was the strongest so far with Lab 4 appearing as guests.

April’s edition is going one better though –  the surprise booking of Proteus makes this his first appearance in Tokyo for what must be about a decade. GULD will likely be adding some more NRG to the event to make it a proper reunion for the Romancer crowd.

I know, you’ve very likely heard all about this already. This post is a public service announcement for those not up to date with freeform on social media, as preorders are open for Substanced’s already legendary solo album. With the scene the way it is these days it’s impossible to guess how quickly the 300-copy run will last, but for such a long-awaited release it might be best to err on the safer side and order soon.

Respect aplenty to A.B and Stamina for taking on the release – preorders are open now on the Stamina site. No sign of a release date or even a tracklist yet, so that’ll also be the place to stay up to date on both.

A very last-minute notice here that a winter edition of Hellfury’s Hardcore Bash online event is starting today. Although there’s less than usual to pick out on the freeform side, I’d like to point Horsers in the direction of Hyphen’s set tonight at 19:00 (GMT), followed directly by Shimotsukei. Watch out too for Hellfury himself playing first thing tomorrow – ideally with a freeform set but either way it’s great to see him back.

This was the first of Hedonistik Ritual’s live sets that I was able to catch for quite some time, but even a quick skim through should be enough to convince you that this one deserves a proper listen. Stretching a full two hours, it’s another one of those mixes that really shows what HR is all about.

Some harder UK tracks alongside plenty of rock solid Japanese and Finnish classics make for a really nice atmosphere, while the excellent use of some happier vocal tracks add another surprise element. In the wrong hands that could be the recipe for a right old mess – that this set works so well speaks to some high quality selection and nicely judged mixing. Finish things off with subtle effects and mic use for that live feel, and you have a streamed set done the right way. Check out the set on Youtube, along with the past Hard Tranceformers shows.

This’ll be of interest to many here, I expect – Lab4’s latest release is appearing on Hard Trance Europe, and the label is running a remix competition with a release on the label as the main reward. Of course that would probably meaning sticking to the hard trance genre in some form, but there’s surely a ton of potential for a more NRG-style track here too.

If you can stomach a touch of social media blackmail to get the files themselves then you’ll quickly be up and running. The competition runs until the end of next month.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it to the inaugural twitch stream, especially after social media did its best to keep people away. Even the last-ditch Facebook posts on the day were being hidden away, which wasn’t much help to the mostly European crew who had shown interest in the cancelled edition a few weeks ago. Lesson learned though, and from now on I’ll be relying more on here, lesser-of-two-evils Twitter, and twitch itself for announcements. Special thanks to the Japanese crew and TYFTH regulars who managed to find their way to the stream, it was utterly great to see you all.

I have uploaded the video for anyone who missed it though, with some very minor edits to cut out the soundcheck and some silence at the end. I was tempted to go down the titles/captioning route to spruce up the presentation a bit but that’s possibly going a bit far for what was supposed to be a pretty casual set.

In the end we made it to just shy of two hours, which was quite a surprise. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and if I seemed slightly subdued it was mostly thanks to having to keep more of an eye than usual on some new technical stuff. I tend to be as much of an arm waving loon during practice at home as in the club but didn’t want to hit one of the four screens I was surrounded by…

Anyway, the set was great fun and was reasonably on-brand for me considering it wasn’t planned to the usual extreme degree. I’ve noticed that winging it completely doesn’t really work as the transitions will be shorter and/or less interesting – too many of them and it starts to sound less and less like one of my mixes. Dug my own grave there, it seems.

Finally, I was glad to see the visuals went down well with everyone. What with it being a twitch set I really wanted some way add some visual interest and a live, interactive feel, and this seemed a pretty successful first try. Might be an idea to lower the room lighting next time for that authentic, cramped club vibe.

Stay tuned then – I’d like to manage one of these sets each month, but it’d be nice to stream some practice runs and other genres in the meantime, too.

Tracklist

01. Turmion Katilot – Verta ja Lihaa (Proteus Mental remix)
02. Lab4 – 4 Those About 2
03. GULD – Nightmare Freak (2009 remix)
04. Lab4 – Candyman (GULD remix)
05. Marilyn Manson – Resident Evil (J-Gear bootleg remix)
06. GULD – Hannya (Android Lime remix)
07. Lab4 – Perfect Drug
08. Hatsune Miku – Senbonzakura (GULD remix)
09. Alek Szahala – Ziggurat
10. Zio – Hell’s Gate (PlasmaDancer remix)
11. Alek Szahala – Dryad Machine (GULD remix)
12. Morita Yuuhei – Redemption Song
13. Cyrez & Sam One – Reboot the System
14. GULD – Gozenzeuna
15. Twisted Freq – Rougher Than You
16. Alek Szahala – Caballo
17. Betwixt & Between – Surendrajit (2011 refix)
18. Nomic – Rule Breaker
19. Betwixt & Between – Like a Flame
20. Nomic & Pain on Creation – Make Me Real
21. Eryk Orpheus – PVC
22. Proteus – Venla
23. Proteus – Venla Part 2
24. Cryobiosis – Serenity

A quick reminder that the rescheduled TYFTH twitch stream is happening tomorrow, which might be especially necessary as our old friend Facebook is limiting visibility of yesterday’s announcement. The set will definitely be longer than the usual event appearances but I’m not sure by how much – I was trying out a few mixes yesterday but I haven’t got a fixed tracklist in mind. Let’s say longer than one hour but probably less than two.

This’ll be a test run, but I’ll be aiming to iron out any sound issues and tinker with the visuals for a few minutes before the official start time. I’ll do my best with the multitasking to keep an eye on the chat, and it’ll be great to see anyone who’s able to stop by.