Goa / Psy

Inspired by the incoming Terraformer from Global Sect, I was meaning to go back to Goa for a post-In Praise of Shadows refresh, even before the freeform drought we’ve seen so far in 2017. Another release I’ve taken a proper look at in the meantime is Veil Of The Moon, the excellent fourth installment in Neogoa’s Dimensional Gateway series.

After a lot of recent Suntrip, Altar and Global Sect compilations that cater for the lighter Goa sound its nice to hear a darker, melodic, old-schoolish atmosphere throughout VOTM, especially as my forever-WIP Goa mix is always at the back of my mind. The intro track Dragon Twins starts the release off in impressively creative style, with some nice acid, psy elements and even decent use of the Think break. It’s into more conventional Goa territory for the following tracks, maintaining a consistently high standard throughout even if some of the production falls short of the scene’s big-hitters, with some occasional (comparative) muddiness or slightly spongy kicks.

Favourites for me would be the Proxeeus tracks Dagon and (with GoaD) Acid Implant, as well as Clementz’ Black Dwarfs. Negans’ Silver is a fine track, but doesn’t quite match the lovely stuff on his own Neogoa release, Danse Macabre. Both that and VOTM are freely downloadable and a very nice accompaniment to the great music appearing on the physical labels at the moment.

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.

The mining for Romancer mixes continues, uncovering a classic, almost decade-old COGI set that I thought had long since disappeared. This is a short (and through the mic again, I’m afraid) recording from NRGetic Romancer’s 4th anniversary, right around the time that COGI was experimenting with various configurations of dark psy and freeform.

He fits a lot into the 35 minutes, starting with Void Of Farthest and ending on Cosmo and OSOM’s Instrumental, via some really interesting transitions. The Epyx & Cyrez remix of Hanuman Visits Lanka was always one of his favourite tracks, while he does very well to shenanigan a mix between Ultimate Protection and Invitation. It’s a superb, if short set that brings back some very fond memories, and I hope the rest of you enjoy listening back as much as I have.

I’m sketchy on the three (?) dark psy tracks in the middle of the set, but here’s what I’ve made of the tracklist so far:

01. Hase vs Psyfix – Void Of Farthest
02. Twisted Freq – Hanuman Visits Lanka (Epyx & Cyrez remix)
03. ?
04. ?
05. ?
06. Carbon Based – Utimate Protection
07. Alek Száhala – Invitation
08. Cosmo vs OSOM – Instrumental

Believe it or not, over the past few months I’ve actually been making more of an effort on the production front, putting in a few hours each week. Not quite the daily grind that I remember Aryx and Substanced both recommending, but I’m determined not to only have the Hell’s Gate remix to my name and it’ll hopefully end up leading somewhere. Seems like I’m not the only one, as the forum has woken up slightly with the first hoover/leads production discussion.

What with freeform being such a niche affair, videos that show the producers at work are an absolute mine of inspiration and guidance – some classics are of course Alek’s Ziggurat, Aryx’s Galaxis and Solar Flare, and Qygen’s Past Blaster. Now we can add Hyphen’s AWAKE remix to the list, doing for FL what the previous guides did for Reason users.

Hyphen’s YouTube channel already has some very nice tutorials and a look into his track Laser Fusion Reactor, but this video goes way deeper with almost 30 minutes of back and forth through the track, including detailed looks at the synths and piano rolls. This will massively benefit anyone, no matter the DAW, and whether you’re looking for a more uplifting sound or not this is surely the best introductory freeform tutorial so far.

One of my side quests over the past year or so has been to round up enough darker goa for a full set, but I’ve been struggling to find more than a few tunes that really hit the right spot. It turns out that for modern goa it’s a narrow target, as diddle with the basslines and melodies a little too much and things quickly head into psytrance, tech trance, or dark psy territory.

With my set stalled at around the 20min mark I was about ready to give up, but a few months ago I discovered The Mystery of Crystal Worlds, a 2015 compilation from Russian label Global Sect that’s the best goa release I’ve seen for quite some time.

Psy-H Project became one of my favourite goa artists after the release of Dance of Distant Worlds, one heck of an album that ranks up there with E-Mantra’s Arcana for goa with a darker edge, and he’s a constant presence here. The compilation shifts all over the place though, with the music one part of a massively ambitious project – a psychedelic poem (!) gives some alternate rhyming context to the tracklist, while the imagery and presentation of the 3 CD physical version is utterly beautiful.

In truth most of the tracklist is lighter than my WIP set requires, but some excellent material from Artifact303 is a highlight (including a superb downtempo finale in Family of Light), as well as an interesting collab between Nova Fractal, OXI, and E-Mantra. Alienapia and Khetzal’s Endless Glade doesn’t quite live up to expectations, but is another quality effort.

This one comes highly recommended then, but does anyone have other suggestions for modern dark/acidic goa in the Arcana or Dance of Distant Worlds mould?

Sharp-eared SoundCloud lurkers might remember that Qygen’s Supersonic Speed received a very smooth drum and bass remixing last year from Mellow Sonic. I listened to it at the time, but foolishly put off checking many of his other productions until now – thanks (as usual) go to Shimotsukei for giving me the necessary kick in the right direction.

It turns out that I’ve seen the light at just the right time, as three months ago Mellow Sonic’s Psychokinesis was released. No doubt about it, this is one of the most important albums of the year – and I know, in 2016 that’s saying a lot.

This isn’t a freeform-only release, mind, but it’s the way the freeform slots into this cyber-psychedelic, atmospheric collection of downtempo ambient, goa and psy that really made me pay attention. Even if it was just giving us a look at another potential-filled direction for freeform it would be a must-listen, but there are some blinding tunes in here that stand with the best of recent months.

Paradoxon is a very solid track with some nice, approachable melodies that benefit massively from the grindy leads and filtering, as well as the dark goa feel. Drum and bass breakdowns aren’t usually my favourites, but Mellow Sonic at least has the advantage of being an established dnb producer and it definitely doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Shifting Reality keeps the quality and tempo high, with a lovely structure and the best screaming leads since Pink Magic, while Blackout does all sorts of genre splicing tricks to excellent effect – I was expecting a fairly standard dnb-influenced semi-breakcore freeform track from the opening, but some goa-style sounds and deep breakdowns take it in really nice directions.

Psychokinesis, though, is where things get serious. A strong, freeform-styled intro leads into some glorious pads, and then the break. Featuring the depth of a drum and bass breakdown along with the earlier freeform elements, it somehow ends up sounding like something very new. Post-drop, the main melody is a winner – deceptively simple, it echoes some of the best emotional efforts of the FINRG classics, but surrounded by this new atmosphere it sends the track further into uncharted territory. This is what ‘deep’ freeform can (and should) sound like.

The intro and outro tracks are both downtempo, with Conspiracy in particular showing some E-Mantra-esque touches that I really enjoyed – as does Slipstream, even if the goa-influenced tracks don’t quite match the darkness and emotion of the rest of the album.

Whether or not Mellow Sonic was inspired by Qygen to take steps into freeform, Psychokinesis shows that in time he could make just as big, and unique, an impact. Let’s hope there’s more to come, but for now Psychokinesis is available on Mellow Sonic’s Bandcamp.

Something else I’ve been meaning to mention for a while is Psychic Formers, a new psy/freeform compilation, featuring the ever-present Hyphen and a lovely comeback track from ikaruga_nex.

Variety looks to be the goal here, and while there are also quality, high bpm tunes from Ata and polysha, the rest of the album takes a gentler stroll through some slow paced, melodic psy. This could be another chance for new listeners to join the scene, then, though the release is currently only announced for this year’s M3 event, taking place in Tokyo on Sunday.

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.

Dark Dimension’s compilation will be released tonight, but some very nicely presented previews of all the tracks are up now on YouTube. TYFTH interest probably centres on Guld’s remixes – great to hear the tidied-up version of Lamento della Sirena, while his NRG version of Dryad Machine works really well, complete with Genshi Kurage-style chiptune interlude.

There’s a lot of other interesting stuff up there (especially if you’re a dark psy fan), so the other videos are very worth checking out. If I make it to the event tonight I’ll try to get some decent video – it has been a while, and definitely something I should do more often.

Following on from the last post, here’s the tracklist for the upcoming Dark Dimension compilation. Turns out that Guld will be contributing two tracks, his new remix of Dryad Machine and what’s hopefully a remastered version of the Lamento della Sirena remix.

I’m also looking forward to Evil Fairy and Suke’s tracks, and it looks like there’ll be some interesting industrial tracks from Takuya Angel, Sisen and MonSiii.