Those still pining for the sound of Epyx & Cyrez are in luck, as Cyrez has a new remix of his Engrams of Cyrez track, Uni Impulse, ready for imminent release. More than just a welcome echo of the duo’s old style, this stands up to the best of their 170+ bpm output and combines it nicely with Cyrez’s recent experiments. The surprising shifts in the break and main melody approach the madness of When Left Alone at times, along with some lovely, Code of Silence-esque filtering.
This shows how out of the loop I’ve been, but V.P.N is a worthy track to end the year on. Released in October on Ominous Digital, this collaboration between Yuuhei Morita and Neoform is a very, very welcome revival of freeform’s more aggressive side, with no endless, trancy breakdowns to be found anywhere.
The intro and melodic sections show all the signs of Morita’s influence, while the nastier sections really benefit from Neoform letting rip with the hardcore influences over some very solid freeform filters. It’s refreshing to hear a track that remembers how brutal freeform can be, as well as how important it is to keep the pace up in tracks like this, even into the breakdown. No fizzling out of the atmosphere with an interminable break here, just the occasional return of the melodies and the lovely use of different kicks to control the track’s pace.
Easily one of my tracks of the year, it’s available digitally here and here.
There are quite a few recent releases that I’d like to give a shout out to, starting with Substanced’s Science Fiction EP. I really like the approach to these FINRG releases at the moment, with Substanced repping the modern UK/Finnish fusion that he’s perfected, combined with something rougher from Alchemiist. It’s the same pattern this time, and even if Alchemiist’s Legend remix keeps things pushed further along the melodic end of the spectrum than I was expecting it’s a very fine track.
My standout on the EP though is Blue Remembered Earth, which slows things down for a long breakdown before one of the most beautiful drops and main melodies that we’ve heard on FINRG for a long time. Take away the preposterous production levels and I’d think we’re back in 2008 again – this is a modern FINRG sound that I can completely get behind.
Let’s call this post a public service announcement for anyone who missed the August digital appearance of one of the finest albums so far this year. I was late to this release myself, but having finally given Khaosnet Civilization a proper listen I’m very impressed indeed by the variety and the quality levels throughout. The combination of relative rookies to the genre and veterans like Hyphen means that overall there’s probably something for every freeform listener to enjoy here.
For that Finnish/UK cross-influence you can’t do much better these days than Hyphen and Kokomochi, while polaritia’s Lifeless but Soulful is one of his strongest tracks to date. Even if a couple of the others prove the old freeform adage that it’s a lot easier to put together a nasty intro and outro than the melodic sections of a track, there’s a lot of originality to make up for it. ikaruga_nex’s Deadcode didn’t grab me at first, but maybe the deep atmosphere is a slow burner – I can imagine this working well in a number of different sets. Morita’s (take your pick where the Yuuhei fits in) gritty sound is still my favourite aspect of the current Japanese scene, and while Unleash lingers over the breakdown for a lot longer than I’d like, it’s probably another that would really take off in combination with the right tracks. Rounding out the release is a promising first (?) freeform track by Risa, along with some strong melodies from Gil and NA7, who I’m perhaps hearing for the first time.
Given the lack of events and general community for the Japanese crew at the moment this is an incredibly strong release, and Kokomochi deserves a lot of credit for supporting the scene when it needs it the most. The promising addition of ‘1’ in the title suggests the start of the series, with the prospect of a follow-up likely reliant on how wide an audience this one can reach.
Some housekeeping for the comeback post, as In Praise of Shadows is available again via the bigcartel page. Of course it was offline for a while during my Europe wanderings so that potential orders weren’t on hold for a month and a bit, rather than having sold out. Although the compilation has sold repectably by recent (or 2016) standards, the print run was closer to 2007 golden era numbers, meaning there’s plenty of stock left. That also means, sadly, that there’s a long way to go before costs are recouped, but as a labour of love I’m not so worried about that part. Financially idiotic or not, I’m glad to have kept the quality bar very high for all aspects of the release.
Anyway, I thought I’d also use this post to say a massive thank you to everyone who has ordered so far. Even this year there has been a small but pretty steady flow of orders, which is especially amazing considering my lack of action here or promotion elsewhere. The compilation has now found its way to 18 countries, and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to imagine it being played around the world. A second release might only be wishful thinking at the moment, but keeping the TYFTH sound alive in some form or another is I hope a decent way to start repaying you for the support so far.
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 A 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 allthesites 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.