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.

And so it finally begins – I’ll be sharing an In Praise of Shadows track preview each day for the rest of this week and into the next, beginning with Proteus’ Monochrome. As the earlier master of this track will be familar to most of you, today’s post will also introduce TYFTH’s new logo and a preview of the artwork.

Unfortunately the blog still isn’t ready for the cosmetic surgery needed to really do the art justice, so instead I’ll point you towards SoundCloud, Facebook and Twitter, where there’s now some unified brand-identity action going on.

The backgrounds show off a small part of In Praise of Shadows’ cover, but seeing the entire image is something else altogether. To say it nails the atmosphere I was hoping for is an understatement – you can almost hear the music just by looking at it.

I’m also enormously happy with the logo. It has the balance of aggression, moodiness and slight delicacy that I was hoping for, and despite being effective wherever it’s placed, also manages to look like it was designed specifically for this release.

TYFTH still takes priority, but I’ll be adding plenty of info to the new Facebook page in the near future (not least the release date and ordering links). I’ll also be more active on the label Twitter account, as it could be a nice supplement to the blog if life continues to be as hectic as it has been recently. Please feel more than free to share posts and links with whoever you think might (or might not, come to think of it) be interested.

Finally, back to Monochrome – I could hardly have asked for a better prologue to the album, especially as I’ve been talking with a few people recently about how NRG and freeform could potentially grab all kinds of new audiences with the occasional drop in bpm (similar thoughts led to my Dark Alternative set a while back). Dark and beautiful, it’s just the kind of track I was hoping for when I first pitched the project to Proteus, and this improved master really does it justice.

As always, don’t hold back with the feedback, thoughts and suggestions – thanks again for your patience, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the second of the track previews.

There’s a small heap of posts at the moment that are either half-written or on the to-do list, but right now what’s most pressing is In Praise of Shadows news. Obviously delays have struck again, this time at the last possible moment before the CD manufacturing – it’s hard not to feel the frustration as deadlines merrily come and go, but these experiences will definitely stand me in good stead should a second release ever happen.

Either way, the final product is almost certainly going to be worth the wait. It’s already feeling very unified, from the art and graphics to the tracks themselves, and I’m even satisfied with CD2’s mix – it has been a regular commuting soundtrack since February, probably a sign that it’s one of my better efforts over the past couple of years.

Of more interest to everyone will be the unmixed tracks, and to finally make things more public I’ve decided to start uploading previews from this weekend. Starting tomorrow, I’ll add a track each day, giving you a chance to check each one out while we wait. At the end of that process I’m pretty confident that the album will be at, or close to, the manufacturing stage, and will then be available to order next month.

Most people will already know that the first track is Proteus’ Monochrome, but we’ve since decided on an improved master that honestly improves it a lot. The track structure itself is unchanged, so it might be nice to have track 2’s preview ready to hear tomorrow, as well.

Finally, to coincide with the previews there’ll be some logo action happening, incorporating a little preview of the album artwork. Hope that’s enough of a silver lining for now, and that everyone enjoys the Lucky Lotus set later today.