Releases

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.

Long time no speak, isn’t it? I’ve had a lot going on for the past couple of weeks, but all being well posts will be appearing more regularly from this weekend. There’s also a small mountain of music-related projects building up that I should really be putting into some sort of priority order.

In the meantime, here’s a new release from ikaurga_nex, buried inside a dat file records compilation. This is one of those albums that might not be doing much to float your boat overall, but Barbatos is a fine enough track to be worth the price of entry alone. Of course if the rest of the compilation’s chiptune and J-Core appeals then all the better – it’ll be available at M3 next weekend and is already buyable via Akiba-Hobby.

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.

GULD (NRGetic Romancer)

  1. Aryx – Aurora (GULD remix) [TYFTH]
  2. GULD – Perkele! [TYFTH]
  3. Alek Száhala – Enuma Elish [TYFTH]

Hyphen (SOLIDBOX RECORDS)

  1. Substanced – Afterlife Penance (Transcend & Cyrax remix) [FINRG]
  2. Transcend & Cyrax – Unleashed (Substanced remix)
  3. Grimsoul – Badass Geeks (Lost Faith & Spectrum remix) [ReBuild Music]

Alabaster (M&C Recordings)

  1. Synthwulf – Not Your Angel (Synthwulf bootleg) [Justice Hardcore]
  2. Alchemiist – Triple X Rated [FINRG]
  3. Morita Yuuhei – The Ghost [TYFTH]

Morita Yuuhei (Illegal Wave Records)

  1. Nomic – Caldera [TYFTH]
  2. Substanced – Rise From The Darkness [FINRG]
  3. Kokomochi feat. Setsunann – AWAKE (Hyphen remix)

Kokomochi (FutureProof Sounds)

  1. Substanced – Rise From The Darkness (Original mix) [FINRG]
  2. Alabaster – Galaxy [TYFTH]
  3. Hyphen – Hell & Heaven [FutureProof Sounds]

Raqhow (CODEX, Freeform Bros)

  1. Morita Yuuhei – Now or Never
  2. Kokomochi – Iron Sky [FutureProof Sounds]
  3. Kevin Energy & Cube::Hard – Voice of Carme (Transcend remix)

NONAKA+CHIN (SPREEMO, Freeform Bros)

  1. Alias A.K.A. – Techn8 (Qygen Remix) [ALIAS A.K.A.]
  2. Nomic – Shattered [ReBuild Music]
  3. Substanced – Into the Light (Original mix) [FINRG]

ASAHI (CODEX)

  1. Freakangel – Not A Love Song (STUDIO-X Hard Dance Remix) [Alfa Matrix]
  2. KSHMR & Marnik – Bazaar [Spinnin’ Records]
  3. Don Diablo & Khrebto – Got The Love [Spinnin’ Records]

PlasmaDancer (TYFTH, FINRG, CODEX, NRGetic Romancer)

  1. Mellow Sonic – Psychokinesis [Cosmicopia Records]
  2. Qygen & Novaturtle – Ecumenopolis (Spacechase Version) [Stellar Circle]
  3. Alchemiist – Triple X Rated [FINRG]

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.

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?

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.

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.

Yesterday saw the release of Byproduct’s New Game+, a huge album of old and new that features many of his very best tracks from recent sets. The 14-track album is freely downloadable from Byproduct’s SoundCloud (at 160kbps, note), but things get really special if you do the right thing with a bandcamp purchase – the quality goes up to FLAC/wav levels and an extra 14 tracks are included, many of them classic remixes.

If you’re a freeform-only kind of soul, then the Concorde remix should be of interest, as well as Robotics, an excellent collaboration with Paokala/Alek Száhala. Anyone else will need little convincing – Byproduct’s trademark melodies are sounding better than ever in a lot of the newer productions, and I’d say 28 tracks from one of the most unique artists around is an absolute must-buy.