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
The next NRGetic Romancer set is a pretty formative one for the whole event, with Orfeus setting the standard for guest bookings for the rest of the decade. A lot of the FINRG artists were already in full flow by this point, possibly making Orfeus a surprising first choice until you skip through this absolutely on-point hour and a bit of NRG and early golden-era FINRG. The booking says a lot for Guld’s knowledge of the scene even 13 years ago, and Orfeus of course went on to use the deadly combo of Japanese and Finnish tracks in a lot of sets, a good few years before I started doing the same.
This is a live recording via the mixer, giving a nice clean sound minus crowd noise and any nasty volume changes. The tracklist is a tricky one though, as apart from the obvious selections I’m having a really tough time identifying many. I love the first track after the intro, but up until the Kraken – Epilim combination I don’t have much of a clue what’s playing. Would anyone like to give it a go?
Even without the tracklist this is a lovely set in classic Proteus/Guld style – slanted towards NRG, plus melodic FINRG tracks as interludes that are still hard and dark enough to slot in smoothly. This might be my favourite of the Romancer sets I’ve discovered, but there’s more to come.
edit: Thanks to SteTN and Solvynt we’ve already got a pretty respectable tracklist. Feel free to pitch in if you have some ideas for what’s left!
00:00 = PoC & Orfeus – Intro (uses parts from a very early prototype of PoC & Orfeus – The Sanctuary) 1:27 – 8:30 = Proteus – Dark Queen (?) … 14:24 – 19:54 = Reyes – Fuck You / Captain Tinrib – The Kraken (?) 19:54 = Epilim – Rapid Fire … 30:30 – 35:09 = Flatus – Cloaca … 45:25 = Alek Szahala – Chimaera 51:20 = Epilim – Plasma 56:20 = RX – Uprising 1:03:16 = Epilim – Desert Eagle
Here then is the first of what’ll be a few Romancer-related uploads to TYFTH’s YouTube channel – a set from Betwixt & Between that’s probably a new listen for anyone who wasn’t a regular at NRGetic Romancer back in 2008.
This set was mixed for Romancer and handed out as a CD promo, around the time that promotional mixes were becoming a common sight at the event. The mixing is a bit haphazard in places, but production-wise it really shows Betwixt at his best, a period when a lot of his oldies still got play alongside newer tracks like Wide Awake and Surendrajit.
I hope everyone enjoys it and will be looking forward to more – there might eventually be a downloadable home for the sets but they will be collected here for the time being.
edit: Almost forgot to mention, but in the original recording the transition from Genshi Kurage to Zusammengehorigkeit suddenly (and I assume accidentally) cuts off, with silence for a few seconds before a second version of the transition cuts back in and continues the set. It’s not a pleasant listen, so I’ve cleaned up that 20 second section to allow Zusammengehorigkeit to play without interruption. Full disclosure, and all that.
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.
The last couple of choices have just been submitted, and so it’s now time to share the Japanese scene’s favourite tracks of the past year. As with the 2015 edition I’ve added links to as many of the tracks as possible, hopefully helping those who want to hunt down the unfamilar choices.
In an effort to keep mine unbiased I’ve ruled out any tracks that appeared on In Praise of Shadows. Although that made things tricky (had the compilation appeared on a different label all of my choices would very likely have come from there) it was good fun to dig through the rest of the year’s releases. The three I’ve gone for are still excellent tracks of course, and would have been challenging for a place in the list either way.
As always, I hope you enjoy the look back – with such a strong year of releases it’d be great to see some Horser choices in the comments, too.
Time for the traditional ‘look back at a CODEX from months ago’ post – as the only Japanese freeform event of 2016, CODEX7 definitely deserves a proper recap. With guest cancellations and a last-minute change of lineup there was potential for calamity, but Raqhow and the rest of the crew managed to put on one of the best events of recent years. There was also the small matter of In Praise of Shadows’ release, and it was on sale at the event alongside the CODEX EP, Alias A.K.A.’s Freeform Remixes, and the new Tesla Tracks compilation.
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.
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.
Following on from the release of Galaxy comes a new uploaded set from Alabaster, and actually (as Shimotsukei pointed out the other day) his first ever downloadable set. This one takes the form of a Live PA, something he has only done a couple of times at CODEX, showing off what a quality back catalogue he has built up over the years.
The set goes back as far as a release on Druggy’s Acid Rack and finishes in 2016 with Galaxy, including a few of my all-time favourites. Acid Maker, Oxyale, Iolite and both Rebuild tracks are all in here, as well as Void, a track I played at my very first Hell’s Gate. There’s a nice flow to the set as it heads towards the newer Rebuild/TYFTH releases, and it covers the full range of those distinctive Alabaster melodies – just staying the right side of ‘too uplifting’ and often heading into properly melancholy territory.
What’s happening here, then? Since the album release I’ve been neglecting my to-do list and instead TYFTH and music-related stuff has been pretty scattergun as I fit it around Real Life. Time to change that, starting with a spruce up of the site itself in preparation for the new forum.
As I’m usually safely tucked away in WordPress’ dashboard it has taken a while for me to realise quite how antiquated and user-unfriendly the site’s theme has become. The design was great, for sure, and that aesthetic tied in perfectly with a lot that went on here, but goodness me there was wasted space everywhere, now-redundant sidebars and cramped space for images and video. While I’m sure there are a million other options I could have gone for, with a few tweaks I think this might do the job very well – it’s intentionally a lot more minimal, has a nice amount of room for images (and even a new header), and also includes some actually-useful features like a ‘recent comment’ box on the right.
My reckoning is the new useability will make up for any pining over the loss of dark twirly design touches, but do let me know what you think. The other factor is the upcoming forum, and this will definitely allow more space for it – unfortunately the pilot version will likely be a desperately basic, vanilla effort, until I work out a few styling tricks. If anyone would like to help out on that front, please get in touch.
No more time this evening, but a few posts to test this layout will be on the way soon, and there could even be some forum action over the weekend…