Let’s call this post a public service announcement for anyone who missed the August digital appearance of one of the finest albums so far this year. I was late to this release myself, but having finally given Khaosnet Civilization a proper listen I’m very impressed indeed by the variety and the quality levels throughout. The combination of relative rookies to the genre and veterans like Hyphen means that overall there’s probably something for every freeform listener to enjoy here.

For that Finnish/UK cross-influence you can’t do much better these days than Hyphen and Kokomochi, while polaritia’s Lifeless but Soulful is one of his strongest tracks to date. Even if a couple of the others prove the old freeform adage that it’s a lot easier to put together a nasty intro and outro than the melodic sections of a track, there’s a lot of originality to make up for it. ikaruga_nex’s Deadcode didn’t grab me at first, but maybe the deep atmosphere is a slow burner – I can imagine this working well in a number of different sets. Morita’s (take your pick where the Yuuhei fits in) gritty sound is still my favourite aspect of the current Japanese scene, and while Unleash lingers over the breakdown for a lot longer than I’d like, it’s probably another that would really take off in combination with the right tracks. Rounding out the release is a promising first (?) freeform track by Risa, along with some strong melodies from Gil and NA7, who I’m perhaps hearing for the first time.

Given the lack of events and general community for the Japanese crew at the moment this is an incredibly strong release, and Kokomochi deserves a lot of credit for supporting the scene when it needs it the most. The promising addition of ‘1’ in the title suggests the start of the series, with the prospect of a follow-up likely reliant on how wide an audience this one can reach.

The first freeform Patreon I’ve seen, this is a new project from Substanced that’s already well worth your support. The initial $10 collection of older tracks is fantastic, ranging as it does from Wonderland to more recent bootlegs, along with Hyphen/Le Dos-on’s classic Permission to Die remix.

More to come in this vein would be welcome of course, but if future packs help to fund the production of brand new material then it’s still a very worthy cause. Sign up here, and check Raqhow’s CODEX blog for the full tracklist.

Last-minute announcement that Hedonistik Ritual and Hz DJ will tonight (BST) be playing what looks like the first of a series of sets of trance, hard trance and freeform. I didn’t see a sign of how long the set(s?) will run for, but it’s probably safe to assume things will start off on the slower side and build up from there. Find out for yourself this evening and show some support on the Hard Tranceformers Facebook page, where the whole thing will be streamed.

Although the archives I disovered aren’t going online as quickly as hoped for a variety of reasons, there are plenty of bits and pieces that’ll be making appearance eventually. With time in short supply this week I decided to add some short, classic examples of COGI’s dark psy, another collection of videos that can’t help but make you long for the days when events like these were a regular occurrence. Even on a less busy night (as that one seems to have been) Romancer’s atmosphere really was something else.

Stay tuned for some more recorded sets, on the way soon.

Finally returning from the UK the other day I discovered that a very welcome Munted! comeback has been announced, just a little too early for my next likely visit. This one is a free party in the Midlands that features some of the finest folk in the UK freeform scene – a must-attend if you’re in the area, and hopefully the start of a real revival.

Check the facebook event page for more info and the full lineup.

A few days ago the classic NRGetic Romancer DVD was reuploaded to the TYFTH YouTube channel, after a recent voyage of discovery through my old hard drives. I found a few other old event videos that might go up soon, but there’ll also be some very old, Romancer-related stuff that never made it to the plasmadancer account.

First impressions of 2017 are that this could really be a year for rookie producers to step up and fill the gaps left by the ever-increasing numbers of departing big names. One of the big motivations behind In Praise of Shadows was to inspire new producers with the spirit of the past decade or so, but it’s very likely that CODEX is what’s most responsible for giving many of the Japanese crew the final push towards a DAW.

pld is the most prolific of the new faces on the scene, with an obvious taste for the Finnish and Japanese styles that has developed nicely over the past year. His most recent upload, Blitzkrieg, might be my favourite so far, thanks to some very atmospheric, consistent sounds and satisfyingly nasty filtering. It also crucially has that ‘surprise element’, a couple of melodic touches that I wasn’t expecting, immediately taking it up a few levels.

Another new track is Greed from 4nkoo and Gil, a track that starts quite strongly and then gets better with each new element. Very clearly Hyphen inspired, the second half of the track manages the impressive feat of improving on the breakdown, finding a nicely emotional spot that bodes well for future tracks.

Mokoko’s Neuro is a shorter track and apparently a first step into freeform production. Personally I’d prefer a grittier, less ‘clean’ sound, but there is some really nice filtering on the leads and a U-F SEQUENCER-esque style that I always enjoy. The lack of an outro or full intro means Neuro is more of an experiemnt than the others, announcing Mokoko as another name to keep an eye on.

Hyphen’s quick off the mark this year with a new showcase set, especially noteworthy for 2017 edits of three (!) tracks. My favourites are the Yuki Kajiura bootlegs, but all six tracks here show off a nice variety of styles, confirming (as if we didn’t know) that Hyphen is definitely leading the way for Japanese freeform at the moment. Transition fans will also enjoy the track connections, showing off some smooth approaches to key changes that make the whole set a quality listen.

It’s no secret that without Alek Száhala’s music I wouldn’t have set off down the freeform rabbit hole 10 years ago, and so I’m very honoured to have one of Alek’s finest tracks of recent years as part of In Praise of Shadows.

Dark and psychedelic in the style of years past, Enuma Elish goes beyond that with improved production and a superb master that easily stands up to anything appearing now. Some might not be aware that the track is actually a nine-minute epic, and this newest version features a number of elements not heard in Alek’s Live PA sets.

It says a lot for the strength of the compilation that an Alek Száhala track fits so well into the tracklist, and speaks to the unified atmosphere that I’m so happy with. As with Guld, I owe Alek a lot of thanks for his early support – this wouldn’t be happening without him.