Remember encode/decode, the album that included ikaruga_nex’s Barbatos? That and other datfile records releases have been available for a while now in digital format – but sound quality sticklers will have to weigh convenience against the fact that the files are 320kbps mp3s only.
A couple of recent EP releases here that most will have seen, but both are encouraging signs that the big names haven’t given up on freeform just yet. From The Shadows is a very welcome return for FINRG, though this is obviously more of a UK freeform showcase and style-wise is only nominally in the same ballpark as previous Finnish releases. My favourite is Transcend and Hedonistik Ritual’s Scorched, with its trademark Transcend production and some nice filtering on the leads.
The release is also notable as a step away from SoundCloud free releases, appearing instead on Beatport and Juno Download. I know from TYFTH research and my days helping out with Hybridize that sales from digital download sites have to be pretty healthy to make it a worthwhile exercise, so be sure to show some support if your listening/mixing tastes line up with this one.
Next is an EP from one of the UK scene’s strongest producers, Eryk Orpheus. Doofs, Squeaks and Bleeps is an interesting mix of styles that has been a long time in the making – my favourite track in the release, Benodihydrochloridebenzylex, has been floating around for years. It’s another great example of how dark psy/goa can be incorporated into freeform even if things here don’t quite go to Qygen-like next levels. The EP is available for a mere £1.50 via the Intelli-Trance site.
I’m obviously never averse to a trip down memory lane, and the other day I was thinking fondly back to how many ‘amateur’ Finnish producers used to come up with some wonderful stuff, promoted via the FINRG forums (often by way of mikseri).
Jimhe’s Iku-Turso is a decade too late to join Cyber Genetics, Beliar, and the rest, but thanks to SoundCloud there’s still a chance this excellent track will get the exposure it deserves. From the moment the first acid lines and melodies kick in it’s clear that this is freeform in the finest Finnish tradition (both musically and otherwise) that manages the energetic/melancholy balance impressively. Throw in a beautiful, creative pre-break, weighty drop, and some Aryx-esque leads, and you have a quality piece of work.
That I was easily imagining this playing alongside some of Grimsoul’s mikseri back catalogue should say it all, as his rough and readier older tracks sometimes hit atmospheres that weren’t matched by the later versions (see Painajainen and Bleed as an example). I hope to goodness that after an introduction like this Jimhe has plenty more on the way.
The track is definitely BRK’s with GULD influence, but with BRK’s production coming on leaps and bounds by the month that’s no bad thing at all. It happily leans in the harder direction of tracks like Rhythm is a Dancer, while the breakdown really is quality – more emotion than we’re used to hearing from either artist, it surely goes into the ‘very best’ category of BRK’s growing back catalogue.
There’s a lot more to come from him this year, including on TYFTH when time allows.
There have been rumours of a Carbon Based return this year, and here it is – unpredictable as ever, the comeback track is a pretty glorious rework of Korpiklaani’s folk metal.
It’s not quite freeform, mind, as the Toni and Teemu CB influence has led this one down the breaks path. Even so, the sound is unmistakably recent-era Carbon Based, especially those beautiful breakdowns and leads. I must admit to expecting/hoping for a 4/4 kick and some FINRG filters to burst in at some stage, but things have been reined in this time, alas.
Indeed, the atmosphere on the whole is far lighter than the dark, folky melancholy of the original, which also got me thinking about how great a range of FINRG remixes would have been. Imagine a freeform edit, or if Proteus, Nomic, or Horzi could get their hands on this?
This track is still a fine piece of work at a possibly useful 160-ish bpm, and (amazingly) suggests that if anything the Carbon Based production levels are still improving. It’s available in mp3/FLAC formats here.
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.
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.
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.