I’m slow (of course) to mention the most recent FINRG podcasts, but even if you’ve heard them before they’re well worth a revisit as DJ case studies.
Listening to these sets you can hear right away what freeform means to each DJ, with both featuring some similar tracks as part of two very different atmospheres. JNKS’ 64 minutes goes from happy/UK hardcore to some solid gold FINRG and back again, while Alchemiist plays some surprisingly melodic freeform, connected to neurofunk and hardcore by a few darker oldies.
JNKS’ selection is spot on, with a huge number of later-era happy anthems (including remixes to keep veterans of the early 90s happy), while the potentially hazardous transition into the FINRG section is very nicely handled. You really can’t beat the gritty sound of tracks like Killer Instinct and Illuminate, and of course it’s nice to see the obligatory Alek appearance.
Alchemiist’s steady progression into the non-freeform final third is just as well handled, but the standout section of the set was a more conventional one. I might prefer the original PVC, but the transition from Ghost of Jupiter into Lost Soul’s remix is still top class and a worthy centrepiece to the set. Absolutely lovely stuff.
Both essential listens then, as is the entire podcast series so far.
This was the first of Hedonistik Ritual’s live sets that I was able to catch for quite some time, but even a quick skim through should be enough to convince you that this one deserves a proper listen. Stretching a full two hours, it’s another one of those mixes that really shows what HR is all about.
Some harder UK tracks alongside plenty of rock solid Japanese and Finnish classics make for a really nice atmosphere, while the excellent use of some happier vocal tracks add another surprise element. In the wrong hands that could be the recipe for a right old mess – that this set works so well speaks to some high quality selection and nicely judged mixing. Finish things off with subtle effects and mic use for that live feel, and you have a streamed set done the right way. Check out the set on Youtube, along with the past Hard Tranceformers shows.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it to the inaugural twitch stream, especially after social media did its best to keep people away. Even the last-ditch Facebook posts on the day were being hidden away, which wasn’t much help to the mostly European crew who had shown interest in the cancelled edition a few weeks ago. Lesson learned though, and from now on I’ll be relying more on here, lesser-of-two-evils Twitter, and twitch itself for announcements. Special thanks to the Japanese crew and TYFTH regulars who managed to find their way to the stream, it was utterly great to see you all.
I have uploaded the video for anyone who missed it though, with some very minor edits to cut out the soundcheck and some silence at the end. I was tempted to go down the titles/captioning route to spruce up the presentation a bit but that’s possibly going a bit far for what was supposed to be a pretty casual set.
In the end we made it to just shy of two hours, which was quite a surprise. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and if I seemed slightly subdued it was mostly thanks to having to keep more of an eye than usual on some new technical stuff. I tend to be as much of an arm waving loon during practice at home as in the club but didn’t want to hit one of the four screens I was surrounded by…
Anyway, the set was great fun and was reasonably on-brand for me considering it wasn’t planned to the usual extreme degree. I’ve noticed that winging it completely doesn’t really work as the transitions will be shorter and/or less interesting – too many of them and it starts to sound less and less like one of my mixes. Dug my own grave there, it seems.
Finally, I was glad to see the visuals went down well with everyone. What with it being a twitch set I really wanted some way add some visual interest and a live, interactive feel, and this seemed a pretty successful first try. Might be an idea to lower the room lighting next time for that authentic, cramped club vibe.
Stay tuned then – I’d like to manage one of these sets each month, but it’d be nice to stream some practice runs and other genres in the meantime, too.
01. Turmion Katilot – Verta ja Lihaa (Proteus Mental remix) 02. Lab4 – 4 Those About 2 03. GULD – Nightmare Freak (2009 remix) 04. Lab4 – Candyman (GULD remix) 05. Marilyn Manson – Resident Evil (J-Gear bootleg remix) 06. GULD – Hannya (Android Lime remix) 07. Lab4 – Perfect Drug 08. Hatsune Miku – Senbonzakura (GULD remix) 09. Alek Szahala – Ziggurat 10. Zio – Hell’s Gate (PlasmaDancer remix) 11. Alek Szahala – Dryad Machine (GULD remix) 12. Morita Yuuhei – Redemption Song 13. Cyrez & Sam One – Reboot the System 14. GULD – Gozenzeuna 15. Twisted Freq – Rougher Than You 16. Alek Szahala – Caballo 17. Betwixt & Between – Surendrajit (2011 refix) 18. Nomic – Rule Breaker 19. Betwixt & Between – Like a Flame 20. Nomic & Pain on Creation – Make Me Real 21. Eryk Orpheus – PVC 22. Proteus – Venla 23. Proteus – Venla Part 2 24. Cryobiosis – Serenity
A quick reminder that the rescheduled TYFTH twitch stream is happening tomorrow, which might be especially necessary as our old friend Facebook is limiting visibility of yesterday’s announcement. The set will definitely be longer than the usual event appearances but I’m not sure by how much – I was trying out a few mixes yesterday but I haven’t got a fixed tracklist in mind. Let’s say longer than one hour but probably less than two.
This’ll be a test run, but I’ll be aiming to iron out any sound issues and tinker with the visuals for a few minutes before the official start time. I’ll do my best with the multitasking to keep an eye on the chat, and it’ll be great to see anyone who’s able to stop by.
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.
Last year was much heavier on releases than we might have expected, resulting in a decent number of sets that tried blending old and new. Even if there were fewer ‘dark side’ DJs doing the rounds in 2017, there was a lot to enjoy and making these final choices was quite a challenge.
1. Shimotsukei – Future_Proof Sounds mix series 005
Shimotsukei has been single-handedly propping up the scene during its quieter spells – it wouldn’t have been that hard at all to pick a Shimo-only top 3. This set for Future_proof is my choice though, thanks to its more considered, ‘studio’ feel than her (still generally top class) twitch sessions. Some of the strongest Shimotsukei mixing of the year can be found here, as well as a quality structure that’s sparing enough with the melodies to make for a very welcome, darker set. Make sure to hang in there for a really excellent final third.
2. Solvynt – Lucky Lotus Online Electronic Music Festival 7
Most ambitious set of the year was definitely Solvynt’s Lucky Lotus submission, with the strongest tracklist you could possibly ask for. Melding some of the trickier tunes isn’t always successful here, but when it works, it really works. Perkele! into Shine remains the best transition I heard last year, and there are many other highlights to look out for.
3. Substanced – FINRG PODCAST 003
Third spot was a close-run thing, but in the end I went for Substanced’s masterclass in how to mix newer freeform with the old. Understandably heavy on his own, newer productions, the way they blend with a couple of classics is an encouraging reminder that the FINRG spirit is still very much intact. Some of the strongest mixing of the year, great cross-scene promotion, and hopefully a sign of things to come in 2018.
Obviously I’d like to offer some huge apologies for cancelling the twitch stream at such short notice – and not even officially cancelling it here, as the couple of lines on Facebook were the very best I could manage at the time. Late on Saturday I managed to get some pretty severe food poisoning that put me completely out of action for a couple of days. An extra nice combo with the remnants of jetlag, as you can imagine…
Anyway, as the first set I’ve ever missed for any reason I’m pretty keen to make up for it ASAP. The plan is to reschedule for 10 days from now, once again at 19:00 JST. I’ll do some wider word-spreading nearer the day, but wanted to update everyone here first.
Before that I’ll be trying to catch up on a few things I’ve had planned, as well as continue with some minor and not-so-minor additions to the site. I’ve been thinking that it would be nice for TYFTH to do a better job of archiving and referencing info, both for Horsers and myself, so that’s something in the works alongside all these other posts I keep mentioning.
This would be another of those things that have been planned for an age, but what with 2017 being the first year without a club set since 2008 it’s probably about time to spring into action. Even if Shimotsukei levels of activity are a bit unlikely, I’ll be aiming for at least one set a month, starting in January. Part of the thinking behind it is to keep me match fit for any sets next year, but also just to get me back into the swing of planning event-style mixes more regularly.
Right now I’m away from TYFTH Towers, but once I return to Japan there’ll be some action on what are usually the end-of-year posts. January will tentatively see the twitch stream, the 2017 top mixes (and hopefully tracks), along with a couple of other things that have been delayed for a while. And while 2017 wasn’t the easiest time for all sorts of reasons, TYFTH will definitely be a bit more active come the new year.
If you’re in the market for some melodic freeform then Nonaka+Chin’s FutureProof Sounds set might be a good one to check out. I often think of Nonaka as the Midas of the Japanese scene – his mixing level, thoughtful selection and taste for the Finnish sound alongside the UK freeform means there’s always something to enjoy.
This one is excellently mixed with some nicely considered transitions, and even if there’s a lot of UK freeform that I can’t name (not laziness, there’s actually no tracklist here) the set is also a fine showcase of Japanese tracks with artists from ikaruga_nex to Hyphen, via Alabaster’s Galaxy. I found myself wishing for some darker sounds but that’s clearly not what the set is aiming for – instead this is the place for some well-selected melodic highlights of the current scene.
Obviously a must-listen, FINRG’s second podcast is a very welcome, Carbon Based-selected look back at a few of the label’s finest tracks. Plenty of these are well over a decade old but have never been bettered – it’s fitting to hear them again just before FINRG’s 16th anniversary event next year.
The mixing’s as rock-solid as you’d expect, and this might also be the first time I’ve heard other artists’ tracks used in a CB set.