UK

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.

I’ve been meaning to get this post online for a week or so, but now it’s especially timely – Cave/Raizing-inspired shmup Blue Revolver was released today (JST) on Steam, and is essential if you’ve even the slightest interest in the genre.

What should be of interest to all Horsers is the soundtrack, composed by Qygen and featuring remixes from the likes of Hyphen, Exemia and Blue Phoenix. In Praise of Shadows aside, Qygen’s work here is far and away the best freeform I’ve heard this year, and it’s really exciting to consider how many people could be exposed to his sound if this release does as well as it deserves to.

The top of this post is a recent episode of STG Weekly, featuring Blue Revolver and its developers. Although my shmupping has lapsed a bit over the past year, I’ve been back at Guwange and Crimson Clover recently and can’t wait to give BR a proper go.

There aren’t as many Alek Szahala-only sets kicking around as you’d expect, so this 80 minute mix from Midas was a very pleasant surprise. The tracklist is an especially interesting one that sets off from an unusual starting point, runs through some darker classics, and ends on some faster darker classics.

You could hardly ask for better, and that unusual opening (starting with Lagash 2012) features some really brilliant transitions – Astraia and Avalanche were made for each other at this bpm, and Heaven & Hell is a great choice. Very nice to see Noitavasara in there (a tune I’ve been trying to use for the past year or so), while Hydra is yet another excellent, surprising selection. After the bpm has crept up this high, then why not finish with the traditional Xochitlan?

This set came to soon for any chance of Enuma Elish, but that aside, a quality tracklist and rock-solid mixing in typical Midas style make it very highly recommended.

An interesting take on the dark/melancholy formula here, in a set from DJ Danny Stokes. Recorded a few years ago, the set is anchored around a few heavily pitched up Lab 4 tracks – this might be a deal breaker for some, but it’s this and the surprising combo of Nu-Energy with darker tracks that are the noteable elements here.

Although personally I could do without tracks like Kevin Energy’s remix of Lumi, it’s tracklists like these that show the potential of coaxing more UK freeform-centric DJs towards the FINRG, EE, Kreatrix and (wait for it) TYFTH side of things. As an example, CLSM’s Revolution remix works brilliantly here as a link between Lab 4, with Adaption making perfect sense as a follow-up.

It’s thought-provoking stuff, before the second half of the set switches into a nicely mixed selection of old favourites. I have my own thoughts on how the TYFTH flavour of NRG and freeform can reach wider audiences, but sets like these (and Thumpa’s, obviously) show a another possible, optimistic attack vector on the less grimdark corners of the freeform world.