Goa / Psy

Giving the tracklists their own post is also a chance to say a big thanks to everyone who stopped by to listen! My thinking at first was to make it an almost-test stream, and so that’s why there was no promotion other than here and Mastodon. In the end though, with a small but awesome group of listeners, I had a great time and was more than happy to do a ‘for those who know’ longer stream.

It was quite the rush to get things set up in time yesterday, which inevitably meant I would forget something important. As the stream ended I realised what it was – for some reason I hadn’t set the stream to record. Massive apologies for that, but it does probably mean that I’ll be double checking from now on, and also that I can reuse the occasional transition from yesterday without too many worries.

Look out for more sets in the future then, albeit with the promo/rare stuff set postponed slightly so I can record the next stream. It was nice to see that even yesterday’s set had a few unheard tracks here and there, so I hope the tracklists are useful.

[Goa Trance]
01. E-Mantra – Dansul Ielelor
02. E-Mantra – Ravenmocker
03. Proxeeus – Something Lurks on Yuggoth
04. Alienapia & Khetzal – Endless Glade
05. Mindsphere – Divine Intervention

[NRG]
01. Alchemiist – Dead Silence
02. Risa – Air Str1ke
03. NooNoo & Anna K – Sleep is for the Week (Alchemiist remix)
04. Lab4 – Blackstar
05. Hase – Attacker
06. Pure Underground – Amb (Tyranoid vs Michael Strongstream remix)
07. Alek Szahala – Alanamra
08. Alek Szahala – Starfall
09. Betwixt & Between – 7th world

Keeping that consistent streaming streak going, it’s almost time for the second TYFTH Live. Mastodon watchers will have seen some live indecision from me today, as I really haven’t been in the mood for NRG this week and finally decided to call it earlier this afternoon. Typically, all it took was one more practice with some unusual tracks to get some inspiration going though, so we’re back to original scheme of two relatively shorter sets.

The first will be some goa trance, likely to be heavy on the E-Mantra but a little more melodic than I’ve played in the past. After that will be some NRG, and I’ll likely be keeping things fairly simple while I get back into the swing of mixing publicly and precariously balancing computers here and there. The simpler mixing (in both sets, to a degree) will mean I’ll be more able to check the chat, so this could be a nice chance for a catch up, too.

You can find the TYFTH twitch channel here, and when the time comes I’ll temporarily embed the feed at the top of this post.

Believe it or not, this post is in response to a few requests I had, many years ago, to talk a little about how I put my sets together. Back then I felt I had a lot to work on, and either way wasn’t really confident enough to articulate what I’d learned so far. Although there’s still plenty to improve, the combination of more regularly hitting what I feel is the ‘TYFTH style’ and the collected notes made during a decade of mixing mean that now might be the right time to give an explanation a try.

With as many mixing styles as there are DJs, it should really go without saying (despite the occasional imperative mood) that I’m in no way prescribing this as the way to put a freeform set together. Taking set construction so seriously has always been massively rewarding for me though, so the hope is that this will be an interesting look behind the scenes for those who enjoy TYFTH’s mixes.

These thoughts (they’re far too meandering to be called a guide) are roughly divided into three sections, covering the main steps in my mixing process. Particularly important points are noted along the way, and to help with the explanations a few PD sets (or even transitions within them) are used as examples, as well as occasional mentions of non-freeform sets that have inspired me over the years.

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Here’s one of the main reasons it’s been a bit quiet around here recently – fitting a set around Other Things these days isn’t always easy. No way I was going to turn down a chance to contribute to the FINRG podcast series though, so here’s my first full freeform set since the In Praise of Shadows mix.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how it wasn’t only the dark, melancholy atmospheres of freeform that initially attracted me, but also a strangeness that I hadn’t really heard anywhere else. Play tracks like that in a club setting and you have the other-wordly atmosphere of NRGetic Romancer, of course, and so this set was an attempt to capture some of that with a tracklist of slightly less common tunes. The key was to avoid throwing in unusual tracks for the sake of it, as well as putting the usual effort in to construct a cohesive whole.

To that end I built the set around three main sections, resisting some old, obvious transitions in favour of keeping things headed in the direction I wanted. Hence the use of Twisted Freq early on, and a pretty basic introduction of Godd, for example. I wasn’t desperate to use promos here, but it turned out that GULD’s little-heard City of Solitude remix and Re-form’s Intro both fitted in nicely. Alabaster’s Awakening remix is still under construction, but this is the latest version and not too far from completion (and used with permission, obviously).

The 2023 remix was supposed to mark the big finale, which is probably my favourite part of the set. I’m quite pleased with the shift in atmosphere from there to Blackmailer, then into the Alek-Mellow Sonic combo. Those two beautiful breaks threaten to bring a tear to the eye every time, and I was hoping the contrast with the rest of the set would make them sound even better.

As always there are things I’d like to improve, but having already spent an outrageous amount of time planning this one the deadline was probably a good thing. Hope everyone enjoys it!

Yet more release announcements, this time for the huge, freeform-only Lucky Lotus compilation, Before the Dawn. I can’t the only one who’s been hoping for something like from LL for a while now, and this is a high quality cross-faded preview. Also an impressive tracklist, with some veterans anchoring things in amongst the new faces and a lot of Japanese representation. I haven’t heard the full tracks yet, but going on this preview and others I’ve heard Kounta Kulture’s Cannibal Girl might be the most immediately promising. Definitely looking forward to a leisurely listen of the whole release, though.

The other good news is that the compilation will be released in little over a week via the LL bandcamp – the official date is 10th March.

As I’m danger of falling behind recent big announcements I’ll break with tradition and catch up with a few of the main ones in a single post. Good training for the hopefully regular appearance of some longer writing on the site this year, too.

Heading the post is the opening track from Proteus’ upcoming artist album. Rather than NRG or anything like it, instead this sounds very much like something that could have appeared on Platipus back in the day, which is of course high praise. The second track, Gute Nacht has also gone online and shows a more familiar darker style – if the previews maintain this standard then it’s going to be quite the release. Plus there’ll surely be some older-school, pacier tracks in there somewhere.

Possibly the biggest freeform announcement is the recent release of Future_Proof Sounds’ second compilation, a strong collection of tracks with Japanese representation from Hyphen and Kokomochi. Kokomochi’s If Not Machine has shades of ikaruga_nex and is a fine follow-up to Iron Sky.

We’ve also got another label entering the scene in the form of Skeny Tracks – it might lean towards melodic freeform and UK hardcore but the first release Retrofuture features a really impressive selection of newer artists from around the scene. Hyphen’s here of course, but watch out too for Sanaas’ Beastout.

Finally for now is an excellent hour of mixed tracks from BRK. Featuring a full tracklist of his own material plus a solitary remix, this is quality stuff and another clear step up for his productions. The collab tracks with GULD and NEON give the set some welcome variety, while Kaos Lodge is one of his strongest tracks for some time and a well-chosen finale.

If you’re keeping up on your goa releases you’ll know that Terraformer appeared about six months ago on Russian label Global Sect. There was a bit of a mixup with my order that has since been very smoothly sorted out by Adept, so it’s finally time to give it some space on TYFTH.

Global Sect continue to go the extra mile with the design and visuals of their releases, and while the spacey theme isn’t as strong as the more organic Mystery of Crystal Worlds the 4 CD physical version is still an incredible sight to behold. Although I might have been right to wonder if there was really enough top-level goa floating around at the moment for such a huge release, there’s a nice variety going on here with some more quality curation giving each CD a strong identity.

CD 1 is as good a start as you could possibly hope for, with a fine selection of Russian tracks joined by Mindsphere’s fabulous Enchanted Land. Alienapia’s Are You Mad? is a nice return to form, but The Essence of Bhagavat-Ghita is yet another excellent track from Psy-H Project and probably my favourite of the CD.

The second CD is more experimental with fewer heavyweight artists, but also as a pretty consistent sound that works in its favour. Edge of Infinity is about the oddest with its piano and guitars, while my favourite might be Clementz’ Conquer the Universe.

CD 3 is more uplifting and features some very strong tracks. Mindsphere’s Hidden Death is one to look out for, as well as the obvious choice of Gaura Nitay. Of the more uplifting tunes I most enjoy Raving Universe’s Ascension, but there’s plenty of quality from Zopmanika, Fiery Dawn, and Artifact303.

The final CD is entirely downtempo, maybe to follow the success of Artifact303’s outro to Mystery of Crystal Worlds. There are some lovely atmospheres here, but Liquid Flow’s Even Horizon sounds suspiciously like a typical goa track with the bpm bumped down a bit…there’s more to most downtempo tracks than that, it turns out. This was the first time to hear Fiery Dawn’s slower work, and the acid lines really do a fine job at this speed.

The absence of E-Mantra aside, this is clearly a very impressive release. Global Sect deserve support for these huge projects, and with something here for almost any goa fan there’s really no excuse not to.

Presumably we’re all familiar with Blue Revolver, 2016’s fondest of fond tributes to the modern(ish) shmup? I usually manage to restrain myself from too many game-related posts here, but BR sneaked through thanks to Wyrm’s sound design and a pretty remarkable OST from Qygen. Plus of course there was the excellent collection of remixes, including the return of ikaruga_nex and some lovely stuff from Hyphen – the game itself’s a must-purchase if you’re even slightly into the genre, but at the very least you need the soundtrack, which was comfortably one of the best freeform releases of the year.

Black Label is a CAVE style rebalance/update of the mechanics and frontend, with a genuinely interesting list of new additions. What’s bolder though is an arranged version of the soundtrack, wisely deciding not to try out-freeforming Qygen and instead taking things in a more conventional soundtrack direction. Exemia and Hagane are nice choices for remix duties (especially after Exemia’s quality work with Aerolith Aurorablast), and Hagane’s lush, breakbeaty take on Qygen’s tracks is sounding very successful so far. Black Label will be appearing in January next year.

Smiling Corpse’s newest release definitely lives up to the name, with 13 tracks of trancecore styled freeform that should bring back memories (for some) of the early scene, pre even the Nu-Energy/FINRG era. The CD compilation will be released this month but is already up for preorder – and with only 120 copies pressed (and 69 left at the time of writing) it might be worth getting in sooner rather than later.

My first solo mix of the year might not be freeform, but I’m glad to finally get this one finished. What eventually became this set started about three years ago, went very much on the back burner during In Praise of Shadows, and then came to mind again a couple of months ago. It’s relatively short for a Goa set, but there are a few reasons for that and the whole process has been pretty educational from a set-construction point of view.

Having followed Suntrip’s take on the genre for many, many years, I later became slightly obsessed with the idea of far darker tracks that maintained the emotion and melodic complexity of old and new school Goa. A bit of research on Psynews showed I wasn’t the only one, but there wasn’t much that fitted the bill, with most sounding more like slightly melodic forest or dark psy.

That changed once I discovered Psy-H Project’s Dance of Distant Worlds, released on Global Sect in 2013 and followed by the beautiful The Mystery of Crystal Worlds. Psy-H Project absolutely nails what I was looking for, and I orginally had thoughts of an extremely dark set of Goa based around that sound. Sadly very few other artists were doing anything remotely similar – my early efforts at putting a set together turned into a structureless mish mash of styles that kept meandering into super melodic Goa almost by accident.

In despair I gave up on the set, but decided to have another try earlier this year after listening to a lot of Mindsphere and the very promising six-track preview of Global Sect’s new Terraformer. The idea started to come together of a smoothly progressing dark set combining Global Sect and E-Mantra, with Mindsphere’s melodies as brief interludes.

Second Coming was just the track I needed to start things off, especially once I realised Ka-Sol’s Blogz worked pretty nicely as a follow up. It was this combo that also suggested the idea of changing tack slightly and going for a Goa interpretation of ‘dark psychedelic’, and so after some hints in Blogz and Gaura Nitay I eventually decided on Moonwalker as part of a trippier finale. It’s a typically climactic Morphic Resonance track (not a fan of that oddly overlapping snare/kick though) that combines well with E-Mantra and brings some extra weirdness to the set’s atmosphere, leading into Hynotic Signal’s Psychotria Viridis.

Mindsphere’s Tears of Goddess ended up being the sole ‘tranquil’ track, and even that wasn’t intended to stick around for too long. Hopefully it does the trick as a relatively peaceful pause (that all-important contrast), before the ferocious acid of Last Encounter comes in over the vocal.

In theory I could have drawn out the darkness-into-psychedelia theme to make a longer set, but even this version ended up becoming a silly amount of work. Recent events have given me less time and energy for set-tinkering, so even if it’s far from perfect I’m happy enough for now to have had fun with this shorter experiment.

01. Psy-H Project – Second Coming [Global Sect]
02. Ka-Sol – Blogz [Suntrip Records]
03. Psy-H Project – Gaura Nitay [Global Sect]
04. Psy-H Project – Infernal Candyflip [Global Sect]
05. E-Mantra – War of the Hierophants [Suntrip Records]
06. Mindsphere – Tears of Goddess [Suntrip Records]
07. E-Mantra – Last Encounter [Suntrip Records]
08. Morphic Resonance – Moonwalker [Global Sect]
09. Hypnotic Signal – Psychotria Viridis (Original Mix) [Hado Records]