Releases

Many of us seem to agree that polaritia is a name to watch this year, and he’s probably on the wider scene’s radar too after the impressive Sanctuary Infested. That wasn’t his only release last month though, as the end of May also saw the surprise appearance of some older tracks as an EP. Given his unbelievably fast development I was expecting quite the gulf in quality compared to this year’s productions, but not a bit of it.

Although Holy War and Disaster have their moments in a modern-FINRG-meets-Japanese-freeform style, Apocalype and Genesis were what really caught my attention. Both could nearly pass as tracks by Nomic himself, while the second biggest compliment I can pay is that they have gone immediately into my ‘possible tracks to play’ collection, something that certainly doesn’t happen very often these days.

Almost perfect timing for a comeback post, what with 16 Years of FINRG clips appearing daily and the release set for the 25th of this month. Thanks to the FINRG grapevine I knew this compilation was in the works, but lost track of things since the initial murmurings and am as much in the dark as everyone else re. the remaining previews.

Such a strong lineup suggests there is still plenty to look forward to, as the tracks so far are keeping standards very high indeed. There’s also a good range, leaning towards uplifting sounds with a welcome strain of FINRG nastiness. Alchemiist’s Cybernetics might be the best example of that so far, while the return of Cyrez with the excellent Downshifter is my overall favourite at the time of writing. Another very welcome return to production comes from JNKS – The Game Needs Me sounds like a really impressive mixing of his DJing influences.

Notable of course to have such strong Japanese representation from Hyphen, Kokomochi and polaritia – after probably contributing the strongest track to Lucky Lotus’ Before The Dawn I’m excited to see what polaritia’s come up with this time.

I’m all for Ominous Digital’s mission statement, so it’s nice to see some freeform appearing on the label too. Keep in mind that Neoform’s remix is one of those semi-speedcore freeform tracks, but the hope is a precedent is now set and we’ll be seeing a wider range of artists and tracks on OD.

The track itself is a pretty ferocious rework of Le Dos-on/Hyphen’s original, and a step up in production quality for Neoform. Though we’re still to see an original track from him, I’m hopeful that his Android Lime-esque focus on remixes will lead to the same steady improvement, especially with the support of labels like Ominous. The track was released yesterday on all the sites you’d expect.

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.

I know, you’ve very likely heard all about this already. This post is a public service announcement for those not up to date with freeform on social media, as preorders are open for Substanced’s already legendary solo album. With the scene the way it is these days it’s impossible to guess how quickly the 300-copy run will last, but for such a long-awaited release it might be best to err on the safer side and order soon.

Respect aplenty to A.B and Stamina for taking on the release – preorders are open now on the Stamina site. No sign of a release date or even a tracklist yet, so that’ll also be the place to stay up to date on both.

This’ll be of interest to many here, I expect – Lab4’s latest release is appearing on Hard Trance Europe, and the label is running a remix competition with a release on the label as the main reward. Of course that would probably meaning sticking to the hard trance genre in some form, but there’s surely a ton of potential for a more NRG-style track here too.

If you can stomach a touch of social media blackmail to get the files themselves then you’ll quickly be up and running. The competition runs until the end of next month.

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.

Another addition to the growing list of interesting BRK collabs, this one features UK freeform’s Eryk Orpheus. An unexpected combination of artists, and the clip is very promising – not sure about release info yet but it’s one to keep an eye on, for sure.

I also should have mentioned BRK’s Love Like This, a collab with very occasional producer NEON that definitely sounds like both had plenty of input during production. Featuring one of those never-ending hard dance breakdowns, the track makes very good use of it with a really nice drop.

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.