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My first solo mix of the year might not be freeform, but I’m glad to finally get this one finished. What eventually became this set started about three years ago, went very much on the back burner during In Praise of Shadows, and then came to mind again a couple of months ago. It’s relatively short for a Goa set, but there are a few reasons for that and the whole process has been pretty educational from a set-construction point of view.

Having followed Suntrip’s take on the genre for many, many years, I later became slightly obsessed with the idea of far darker tracks that maintained the emotion and melodic complexity of old and new school Goa. A bit of research on Psynews showed I wasn’t the only one, but there wasn’t much that fitted the bill, with most sounding more like slightly melodic forest or dark psy.

That changed once I discovered Psy-H Project’s Dance of Distant Worlds, released on Global Sect in 2013 and followed by the beautiful The Mystery of Crystal Worlds. Psy-H Project absolutely nails what I was looking for, and I orginally had thoughts of an extremely dark set of Goa based around that sound. Sadly very few other artists were doing anything remotely similar – my early efforts at putting a set together turned into a structureless mish mash of styles that kept meandering into super melodic Goa almost by accident.

In despair I gave up on the set, but decided to have another try earlier this year after listening to a lot of Mindsphere and the very promising six-track preview of Global Sect’s new Terraformer. The idea started to come together of a smoothly progressing dark set combining Global Sect and E-Mantra, with Mindsphere’s melodies as brief interludes.

Second Coming was just the track I needed to start things off, especially once I realised Ka-Sol’s Blogz worked pretty nicely as a follow up. It was this combo that also suggested the idea of changing tack slightly and going for a Goa interpretation of ‘dark psychedelic’, and so after some hints in Blogz and Gaura Nitay I eventually decided on Moonwalker as part of a trippier finale. It’s a typically climactic Morphic Resonance track (not a fan of that oddly overlapping snare/kick though) that combines well with E-Mantra and brings some extra weirdness to the set’s atmosphere, leading into Hynotic Signal’s Psychotria Viridis.

Mindsphere’s Tears of Goddess ended up being the sole ‘tranquil’ track, and even that wasn’t intended to stick around for too long. Hopefully it does the trick as a relatively peaceful pause (that all-important contrast), before the ferocious acid of Last Encounter comes in over the vocal.

In theory I could have drawn out the darkness-into-psychedelia theme to make a longer set, but even this version ended up becoming a silly amount of work. Recent events have given me less time and energy for set-tinkering, so even if it’s far from perfect I’m happy enough for now to have had fun with this shorter experiment.

01. Psy-H Project – Second Coming [Global Sect]
02. Ka-Sol – Blogz [Suntrip Records]
03. Psy-H Project – Gaura Nitay [Global Sect]
04. Psy-H Project – Infernal Candyflip [Global Sect]
05. E-Mantra – War of the Hierophants [Suntrip Records]
06. Mindsphere – Tears of Goddess [Suntrip Records]
07. E-Mantra – Last Encounter [Suntrip Records]
08. Morphic Resonance – Moonwalker [Global Sect]
09. Hypnotic Signal – Psychotria Viridis (Original Mix) [Hado Records]

A couple of recent EP releases here that most will have seen, but both are encouraging signs that the big names haven’t given up on freeform just yet. From The Shadows is a very welcome return for FINRG, though this is obviously more of a UK freeform showcase and style-wise is only nominally in the same ballpark as previous Finnish releases. My favourite is Transcend and Hedonistik Ritual’s Scorched, with its trademark Transcend production and some nice filtering on the leads.

The release is also notable as a step away from SoundCloud free releases, appearing instead on Beatport and Juno Download. I know from TYFTH research and my days helping out with Hybridize that sales from digital download sites have to be pretty healthy to make it a worthwhile exercise, so be sure to show some support if your listening/mixing tastes line up with this one.

Next is an EP from one of the UK scene’s strongest producers, Eryk Orpheus. Doofs, Squeaks and Bleeps is an interesting mix of styles that has been a long time in the making – my favourite track in the release, Benodihydrochloridebenzylex, has been floating around for years. It’s another great example of how dark psy/goa can be incorporated into freeform even if things here don’t quite go to Qygen-like next levels. The EP is available for a mere £1.50 via the Intelli-Trance site.

Satoshi Honjo will be a name familiar to many, even if only for his Hannya schranz remix back in the day. He’s still very active though, both with Adrenaline and surprise appearances at darker Tokyo events like Dark Dimension. He and the Adrenaline crew look to be starting a video mix series, and while his set is a lot lighter than anything you’d expect at DD the second (nicely mixed) episode featuring K-Hole goes in a harder direction.

I’m obviously never averse to a trip down memory lane, and the other day I was thinking fondly back to how many ‘amateur’ Finnish producers used to come up with some wonderful stuff, promoted via the FINRG forums (often by way of mikseri).

Jimhe’s Iku-Turso is a decade too late to join Cyber Genetics, Beliar, and the rest, but thanks to SoundCloud there’s still a chance this excellent track will get the exposure it deserves. From the moment the first acid lines and melodies kick in it’s clear that this is freeform in the finest Finnish tradition (both musically and otherwise) that manages the energetic/melancholy balance impressively. Throw in a beautiful, creative pre-break, weighty drop, and some Aryx-esque leads, and you have a quality piece of work.

That I was easily imagining this playing alongside some of Grimsoul’s mikseri back catalogue should say it all, as his rough and readier older tracks sometimes hit atmospheres that weren’t matched by the later versions (see Painajainen and Bleed as an example). I hope to goodness that after an introduction like this Jimhe has plenty more on the way.

I took the chance to upload a few more NRGetic Romancer sets today, including a rare Proteus recording and the original Betwixt set that got me into freeform in the first place. Bringing up the rear is my old set from 2009 – all three confirm once again that Romancer’s atmosphere just couldn’t be beaten, and putting audio quality complaints to one side for now, I love reminiscing while hearing the crowd madness of these mic recordings.

The Proteus set is probably of most interest to many, recorded in 2007 at NRGetic Romancer’s 3rd anniversary. Although I don’t seem to have the other headlining sets from Guld and ADAM Lab 4, this one is a pretty special hour and a quarter that really shows what Proteus was all about at the time. Featuring plenty of the tracks on his then-upcoming The Nature of the Beast, the set also includes some excellent older NRG. I haven’t given a tracklist a try yet, but I’d love to know who’s responsible for the Manson remix around 16.17.

The Romancer playlist is pretty impressive already, but there might well be more to come…

BRK’s keeping himself very busy these days, single-handedly propping up the NRG scene while we wait for some more releases. His latest is Brothers Never Die, a really nice collab with GULD that appeared on Ominous Digital at the end of last month.

The track is definitely BRK’s with GULD influence, but with BRK’s production coming on leaps and bounds by the month that’s no bad thing at all. It happily leans in the harder direction of tracks like Rhythm is a Dancer, while the breakdown really is quality – more emotion than we’re used to hearing from either artist, it surely goes into the ‘very best’ category of BRK’s growing back catalogue.

There’s a lot more to come from him this year, including on TYFTH when time allows.

There have been rumours of a Carbon Based return this year, and here it is – unpredictable as ever, the comeback track is a pretty glorious rework of Korpiklaani’s folk metal.

It’s not quite freeform, mind, as the Toni and Teemu CB influence has led this one down the breaks path. Even so, the sound is unmistakably recent-era Carbon Based, especially those beautiful breakdowns and leads. I must admit to expecting/hoping for a 4/4 kick and some FINRG filters to burst in at some stage, but things have been reined in this time, alas.

Indeed, the atmosphere on the whole is far lighter than the dark, folky melancholy of the original, which also got me thinking about how great a range of FINRG remixes would have been. Imagine a freeform edit, or if Proteus, Nomic, or Horzi could get their hands on this?

This track is still a fine piece of work at a possibly useful 160-ish bpm, and (amazingly) suggests that if anything the Carbon Based production levels are still improving. It’s available in mp3/FLAC formats here.

Apologies to the Lucky Lotus chat crew who have been expecting this for almost a week, but hopefully late is better than never – best we take a look at this one before we work through some other very promising sets from last weekend.

You might remember that we were both originally on the lineup to play individual sets, but what with one thing and another it worked out easiest for us both to go for another collab. Not that I’m complaining – last year was really good fun, while this one was a great way to get over a slight lack of recent freeform inspiration on my part. I have a darker set in the very early works, but last year’s In Praise of Shadows mix worked out so well I’m having trouble matching that for the time being.

Instead I thought a slightly more melodic approach might be interesting this time, including some of the freeform side of IPoS. Shimotsukei had her own ideas of course, and the set somehow worked out very nicely with minimal rejigging of the tracklist. My toughest job was to come up with pre-Fleshfest sequence which led me to settle on Some More. Years of diddling around with the track has still left me with no decent transitions, and so after spending time on all sorts of bizarre combos I gave up and went for a Grimsoul-only opening. We don’t hear his tracks often enough these days (Sentimental Pain aside), plus it was my first time to use any of the three in a set.

Shimotsukei’s sequences are all fantastic, from the standout NRG of Fleshfest Mad Man to the so-mad-it-might-just-work finale of Voodoo to Xochitlan. Each sequence is made all the more impressive by the fact that Shimotsukei was mostly working with my completed sections of the set, once I had cheerily passed them on for her to struggle with.

My own favourite section is Syxautik to Ascend to the Stars, even if it’s the most roughly mixed (with some suspect levels that definitely didn’t seem as bad while mixing). I was trying a dark, deeper atmosphere there, with some more emotional sounds coming in as it progressed – I think it’s pretty successful, and a bit of a preview of the kind of thing I’d like from the next solo set.

It was very nice to see the positive reaction to the set in the LL chat, as well as exchange a few words with Horsers for the first time in far too long. Big thanks of course to LL for the invitation, and especially to Shimotsukei for all the hard work to get the set ready in time. I hope we’ve still got a few more collabs ahead of us, they’re going well so far.

I haven’t given up thoughts of the occasional live set stream (on chew, twitch, or somewhere else) and will keep you all posted, but I do at least have a new mix approaching completion – not the usual thing at all, but hopefully it’ll be the kick needed for a more productive second half of the year.

01. Grimsoul – Escape Forever [Electronica Exposed]
02. Grimsoul – Pahus [Electronica Exposed]
03. Grimsoul – Some More [Electronica Exposed]
04. Carbon Based, DJ Rx & Proteus – Fleshfest [FINRG]
05. Proteus, Ephexis & Ting – Angel of Hell [UHOtrax]
06. FEN Project – Mad Man [FINRG]
07. DJ Rx – Fisheye [FINRG]
08. Morita Yuuhei – The Ghost [Thank You For The Horse]
09. Alek Szahala – Dryad Machine (Hyphen Remix) [Thank You For The Horse]
10. Nightforce & Substanced – Operation Stardust [Electronica Exposed]
11. Pain on Creation – Mortality [FINRG]
12. Twisted Freq – Syxautik [Electronica Exposed]
13. Mellow Sonic – Paradoxon [Cosmicopia Records]
14. Alek Szahala – Ascend to the Stars (Qygen Remix) [ReBuild Music}
15. Anon – Voodoo (Power Mix) [White Label]
16. DJ Eclipse – Ultra World 5 [Bonkers Records]
17. Betwixt & Between – East of Eden (Remaster) [CDR]
18. Alek Száhala – Xochitlán [FINRG]

Pre-Lucky Lotus it was tough to find quality sets of newer freeform, making Hedonistik Rutual’s FutureProof set a very welcome one. It’s a beautifully put together hour or so with a very strong theme, managing to represent a few sides of the scene without things getting disjointed.

The opening is the real standout of the set to my ears – Hedonistik coming up with a lovely live edit of Byrgius that flows perfectly into Hyphen’s NEXUS. This excellent start leads into some more thoughtful melodic tracks (including Sentimental Pain, of course), with Transcend’s remix of Isn’t it all a little strange proving to be a nice bridge into the more UK-centric sounds.

Some might not float my boat, but both the mixing and selection are solid and really well considered – that use of Artifical Reality as another bridge to switch things up again is a nice touch. Finishing with Iron Sky and Hyphen’s Dryad Machine remix nails the energetic melancholy that always works for a finale, taking things back to the Alek-esque atmosphere of the opening.

Kudos to FutureProof for promoting a variety of sounds in their mix series, and to Hedonistik for showing how a skilled DJ can travel the middle ground between the UK and Finland in fine style.

01. Alek Szahala vs Aryx – Byrgius (Ritual Intro Edit)
02. Hyphen – NEXUS
03. Grimsoul – Sentimental Pain
04. Exemia – Aeroduel (Hyphen Remix)
05. Shokk – Isn’t it all a little strange (Transcend Bootleg)
06. Transcend & Hedonistik Ritual – Scorched
07. Aeon – Games with God
08. Ace Ventura – Neurochemistry
09. Transcend & Cyrax – I’ll show you the Darkside
10. Arkitech & Cyrax – Destroyer of Worlds
11. Transcend & Hedonistik Ritual- Mercator de Mortem
12. Substanced – Artifical Reality
13. Kokomochi – Iron Sky
14. Alek Szahala – Dryad Machine (Hyphen Remix)