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.
NONAKA+CHIN opened the event and was followed by Alabaster, but as usual I had to escape for a lunch break and this time ended up missing most of both. I have to work out a plan of attack for daytime events so I don’t miss so much, but from what I can gather Alabaster played a lot of his own material, and he definitely ended with Galaxy.
There was already a very decent crowd, and the gritty, old-school feel of Circus’ main floor gave things a nice, underground atmosphere. Hyphen’s set was the first I caught in full – a now-trademark 50 minutes of high-bpm, excellently mixed freeform. This time around there was quite a psychedelic atmosphere that linked nicely with the antics in the lounge, alongside some of Hyphen’s very best (Qygen’s Yksisarvinen remix and Stance, were a couple I remember). Not sure about the first track in the video above (any ideas?), but the second is Transcend and Cyrax’s I’ll Show You The Dark Side.
Raqhow followed Hyphen with what might be the best I’ve heard from him to date. There was talk before the event that he might go for a melancholy set, and he most definitely did, with the essential Nomic selections combining with some classic Pain on Creation (Religion X, Dreamcatcher) and Alek’s Afternoon Owl to add some energy to the emotion. It’s always a difficult balance, and one that Raqhow managed very well indeed.
You couldn’t really ask for a better follow up to that set than Guld, who took the bpm down a level for a typically ferocious set that was especially heavy on his own productions. He opened with the perfect intro – his brand-new Guren moyuru wa moushuu no waru, later throwing in everything from the Dryad Machine and Aurora remixes to Senbonzakura. A bring-the-house down finale of ThermalForce tracks ended things with some freeform. Absolute quality as always, and one of those old-and-new sets that are a really important primer for the younger CODEX attendees.
Asahi played next, with an enforced hard dance/NRG set as the short notice meant he couldn’t get hold of his freeform CDs in time. Given the circumstances, this was a very impressive effort, a really smooth set of tracks I’m less familiar with that worked perfectly as a relative calm down following Guld’s freeform finish. Asahi and I had a quick chat about my set beforehand when I mentioned that I was hoping to start around 165bpm, and he kept that in mind with a nice increase in speed towards the end, with Alanamra as the final track to set up a possible link from there. For a ‘what might have been’ freeform take on the event, his CODEX7 recorded set comes very highly recommended and includes a lot of his long-time favourites.
Thank goodness I had settled on a slightly different set for this CODEX, as the timetable changes and selections by other DJs closed off a couple of other approaches I’d had in mind. This time I was thinking to go less melancholy (and arguably less dark) with a set based around older tracks and some Alek/Betwixt. Two thoughts helped me with that during prep – the first was to use at least a couple of In Praise of Shadows tracks, including a decent mix to/from Enuma Elish, and the second was to use some Betwixt & Between tracks that I wasn’t able to include in the 2012 tribute mix. Here’s the tracklist one more time:
01. Lab 4 – 4 Those About 2
02. B.R.K. – Rhythm is a Dancer
03. ThermalForce – Moving Flare (Altered States edit)
04. Alek Szahala – Enuma Elish
05. Betwixt & Between – Genshi Kurage
06. Aryx – Morokai (10 Years of FINRG edit)
07. Hase – Brionac
08. Re-form – Sunstroke
09. Pain on Creation – Blood From My Soul
10. Betwixt & Between – Niji
11. Betwixt & Between – East of Eden
12. Betwixt & Between feat. Yukacco – Nothing Compares 2 U
13. DJ Rx – Lacrima (bootleg)
The opening in prep was quite different, with more NRG before Rhythm is a Dancer, but once Asahi had built up to 165 to help my own set I decided to mix directly from Alanamra. Lab 4 tracks are pretty DJ-friendly, and so I decided on 4 Those About 2 as the transition track – the mix was nice and smooth, but using two mixers at the same time is pretty confusing and at the last moment I realised from afar that the bass on the VCI-400 was still cut. One bar of the track later I brought it back in, though I doubt very much that it sounded intentional. Live and learn, eh?
The rest of the set went very well, considering the first effort on a new PA tends (for me at least) to take a bit of getting used to. I was especially happy with the mix from Brionac – using the mastered version from the compilation, I decided that a more ambitious connection was overdue after years of using the track as a get out of jail card. Sunstroke worked nicely, and with some hurtling up through the bpms I was about ready for the Betwixt & Between finish. I really like this three-track sequence, and it might be one that works even better in a club environment than as part of a recorded set. My first play in Japan of Nothing Compares 2 U was as emotional as expected, before things ended with a Lacrima encore – I thought it was The CODEX Anthem, but it seems like half the crowd hadn’t heard it before and I was slightly regretting not ending with Ayakashi or one of my other favourites.
That this was surely one of the best CODEX events so far shows the strength of the Japanese scene, and it was massively encouraging to see so many new attendees hearing freeform through a PA for the first time. There was also a strong raver presence, again showing that it’s more than possible to bring the two groups together if the music and atmosphere hit the right spot. It looks as though CODEX might be on a break for the time being (understandable, after the guest issues this time), but hopefully NRG and freeform will be back in a club setting soon.