UK

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.

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)

Only a week to go until this year’s Lucky Lotus, including my first recorded set of the year. Once again it’ll be a back to back with Shimotsukei, but this time with more of a freeform feel than our previous collab.

As always the lineup for the rest of the event is as good as you could hope for, happily with another good showing from the freeform scene. Names that leap out so far include Horzi, Hedonistik Ritual, Orphic, Alabaster, Solvynt, Decion, Byproduct and Alek Szahala, but as the festival runs for the usual three days it’s definitely worth checking the event page for updates and timetable info. Shimotsukei and I are scheduled for Saturday the 24th at 13:35 GMT.

I dread to think when the last post was – Life Stuff has meant some schedule juggling to fit everything in, and TYFTH has been suffering a bit as a result. Finally getting around to a few posts though, starting with the grand launch of Lucky Lotus’ CD compilation, Summertime Dreams.

The most significant news so far for freeform in 2017, this compilation has some very big names on board – Nomic, Qygen and Morita Yuuhei top the bill, with a very nicely produced contribution from Erkenfresh and Archari and Shimotsukei’s Dagor Dagorath adding some up-and-comers to the tracklist. With Shimotsukei in charge of things the rest of the release is about as eclectic as you’d expect, giving us a taste of everything from funkot to downtempo chillout, via Lab4’s excellent, roll-back-the-years NRG track, Moving To The Beat.

edit: I’ll blame posting rustiness for not mentioning something so important yesterday, but LL has announced that Qygen’s Crystal Cave will be his last freeform track. Talk about another huge loss to the scene, though the signs are that he’ll make a return to music of a different sort in the future.

Not really a release you can afford to miss, I’d say – it’s set for the end of June, but preorders are open already on the Lucky Lotus bandcamp and bigcartel sites.

About time some posts started appearing again, starting with a recording of Lab 4’s set from last weekend’s Dark Dimension. By most accounts it was as good an event as you’d expect but I had to miss it, making this upload a welcome chance to catch up.

Overall this is a slightly disappointing set when compared to Lab 4’s previous Japanese appearance (at Ageha a few years ago), as it tries to find a middle ground between their pure NRG of the past and newer tracks that take in semi-hardstyle, fewer filtered leads and even some dubstep breakdowns. On the other hand this selection likely has wider appeal than an hour of ten-year-old NRG, and I’ve only heard good responses to the set so far. A nice selection of the classics also helps of course, my favourite being a lovely edit of Psychopath that introduces the final ‘old school’ section, ending with Candyman.

edit: Thanks to Shimotsukei for the tracklist, via DJ X:

Intro
Efini – 00.39
Rave Revolućion – 5.15
Last Night ( Lab4_Unit13 feat Steve Blue Eyes) – 9.19
Requiem – 14.16
London ( Party All Night ) – 19.54
Come With Us ( Genetic Response ) – 24.10
No One’s Gonna Take Us Alive – 28.05
Ex Machina_( Weaponised ) – 30.25
We Live _ Mash Up – 35.06
Psychopath – 39.32
The Uprising – 45.18
Candyman ( Drop Glitch ) – 52.58

I’m sure we’ve mentioned the Smiling Corpse Slack group before? If you were previously signed up to the now-departed Freeform Forum then you likely received a recent, gentle reminder that the Slack is the new place for freeform folk to gather. There’s definitely potential there and discussion seemed very lively when I first signed up, even if the time difference between Japan and Europe/the US makes it trickier for me to really take part. I’ll definitely be popping back now and then, and hopefully this link (thanks Sherkel!) will lead non-members to a sign-up page – with freeform awash in releases for an apparently shrinking audience, anything that solidifies the community a bit more is very welcome indeed.

What was already the strongest year for releases in a long time just keeps improving, as Futureproof Sounds’ first compilation has just sneaked in before the end of 2016. A UK label with a taste for the darker side, Futureproof has given strong support to the Japanese scene in FS Vol 1, with tracks from Hyphen and Kokomochi.

I’m not sure I’ve heard the Hyphen track yet, but judging from the collection of preview clips Kokomochi’s Iron Sky leads the way in the rest of the lineup. One of those Hyphen/ikaruga/Falchion-esque tracks that goes heavy on the melodies but anchors things with some nastier sounds, it sounds like a track that could fit into a lot of sets.

The rest of volume one features some interesting melodic tracks without heading too far into darker territory (Transcend and Cyrax’s Forever is a nice example), but the release is definitely one to keep an eye on. It’s available now from the Futureproof site with a very limited run of 100 copies.

What’s this, UK Freeform? Yup, Stamina’s newest compilation has just been released, featuring some huge UK names and a very welcome appearance by Substanced. Artificial Reality is everything you’d hope for, hitting that trademark Substanced middle ground of melodic freeform with an aggressive, Finnish edge.

Heading further across the melodic spectrum are tracks from Transcend, Digital Commandos and A.B, while (as I mentioned in A.B’s promo thread the other day) Ales’ Genre This! remix has a really interesting atmosphere that caught my ear right away. There’s of course a vast expanse of uplifting UK sounds for those whose boats float that way, but even the darker crew should be giving this 2 CD (plus WAVs) release a look.

Everyone’s familiar with Alias A.K.A., if not for his multi-genre productions of the past few years then definitely as Electronica Exposed’s main man, Shanty. I’ve been following Alias’ releases and mixes for a while and really should have mentioned them here, especially the fabulous Prime Suspect album.

Praise be, then, as the latest Freeform Remixes compilation takes on some of those darker tracks along with all sorts of other fun and games for a compilation of very big names. The majority of the artists lean towards UK freeform, but we also have some high quality deeper sounds on show. Nomic’s Regret remix is the big standout for me so far, but Wyrm and Sutr are a perfect fit to take on Nurgle, originally one of those excellent Prime Suspect dark trance tracks. The remix doesn’t quite hit the dark atmosphere of the original (it is named after the god of disease and decay, after all), but the second half of the clip shows a ton of promise – pacy, twisted and heading in a darker direction.

The last of the previews went online recently, but keep an eye on the Alias A.K.A. SoundCloud or Facebook page for more info on the release.

ReBuild is back once again with a hefty 3 CD release, of most interest to me (and many Horsers, I expect) for the inclusion of Nomic’s Shattered. A new Nomic track is always an event, and this is another of those mid-set, atmospheric pieces of freeform that he has really made his own.

Sadly the rest of the album is aimed firmly in the UK hardcore direction – possibly a tough sell if you only have eyes for Shattered, but orders can be placed here.