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.

A very last-minute notice here that a winter edition of Hellfury’s Hardcore Bash online event is starting today. Although there’s less than usual to pick out on the freeform side, I’d like to point Horsers in the direction of Hyphen’s set tonight at 19:00 (GMT), followed directly by Shimotsukei. Watch out too for Hellfury himself playing first thing tomorrow – ideally with a freeform set but either way it’s great to see him back.

This was the first of Hedonistik Ritual’s live sets that I was able to catch for quite some time, but even a quick skim through should be enough to convince you that this one deserves a proper listen. Stretching a full two hours, it’s another one of those mixes that really shows what HR is all about.

Some harder UK tracks alongside plenty of rock solid Japanese and Finnish classics make for a really nice atmosphere, while the excellent use of some happier vocal tracks add another surprise element. In the wrong hands that could be the recipe for a right old mess – that this set works so well speaks to some high quality selection and nicely judged mixing. Finish things off with subtle effects and mic use for that live feel, and you have a streamed set done the right way. Check out the set on Youtube, along with the past Hard Tranceformers shows.

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.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it to the inaugural twitch stream, especially after social media did its best to keep people away. Even the last-ditch Facebook posts on the day were being hidden away, which wasn’t much help to the mostly European crew who had shown interest in the cancelled edition a few weeks ago. Lesson learned though, and from now on I’ll be relying more on here, lesser-of-two-evils Twitter, and twitch itself for announcements. Special thanks to the Japanese crew and TYFTH regulars who managed to find their way to the stream, it was utterly great to see you all.

I have uploaded the video for anyone who missed it though, with some very minor edits to cut out the soundcheck and some silence at the end. I was tempted to go down the titles/captioning route to spruce up the presentation a bit but that’s possibly going a bit far for what was supposed to be a pretty casual set.

In the end we made it to just shy of two hours, which was quite a surprise. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and if I seemed slightly subdued it was mostly thanks to having to keep more of an eye than usual on some new technical stuff. I tend to be as much of an arm waving loon during practice at home as in the club but didn’t want to hit one of the four screens I was surrounded by…

Anyway, the set was great fun and was reasonably on-brand for me considering it wasn’t planned to the usual extreme degree. I’ve noticed that winging it completely doesn’t really work as the transitions will be shorter and/or less interesting – too many of them and it starts to sound less and less like one of my mixes. Dug my own grave there, it seems.

Finally, I was glad to see the visuals went down well with everyone. What with it being a twitch set I really wanted some way add some visual interest and a live, interactive feel, and this seemed a pretty successful first try. Might be an idea to lower the room lighting next time for that authentic, cramped club vibe.

Stay tuned then – I’d like to manage one of these sets each month, but it’d be nice to stream some practice runs and other genres in the meantime, too.

Tracklist

01. Turmion Katilot – Verta ja Lihaa (Proteus Mental remix)
02. Lab4 – 4 Those About 2
03. GULD – Nightmare Freak (2009 remix)
04. Lab4 – Candyman (GULD remix)
05. Marilyn Manson – Resident Evil (J-Gear bootleg remix)
06. GULD – Hannya (Android Lime remix)
07. Lab4 – Perfect Drug
08. Hatsune Miku – Senbonzakura (GULD remix)
09. Alek Szahala – Ziggurat
10. Zio – Hell’s Gate (PlasmaDancer remix)
11. Alek Szahala – Dryad Machine (GULD remix)
12. Morita Yuuhei – Redemption Song
13. Cyrez & Sam One – Reboot the System
14. GULD – Gozenzeuna
15. Twisted Freq – Rougher Than You
16. Alek Szahala – Caballo
17. Betwixt & Between – Surendrajit (2011 refix)
18. Nomic – Rule Breaker
19. Betwixt & Between – Like a Flame
20. Nomic & Pain on Creation – Make Me Real
21. Eryk Orpheus – PVC
22. Proteus – Venla
23. Proteus – Venla Part 2
24. Cryobiosis – Serenity

A quick reminder that the rescheduled TYFTH twitch stream is happening tomorrow, which might be especially necessary as our old friend Facebook is limiting visibility of yesterday’s announcement. The set will definitely be longer than the usual event appearances but I’m not sure by how much – I was trying out a few mixes yesterday but I haven’t got a fixed tracklist in mind. Let’s say longer than one hour but probably less than two.

This’ll be a test run, but I’ll be aiming to iron out any sound issues and tinker with the visuals for a few minutes before the official start time. I’ll do my best with the multitasking to keep an eye on the chat, and it’ll be great to see anyone who’s able to stop by.

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.

Last year was much heavier on releases than we might have expected, resulting in a decent number of sets that tried blending old and new. Even if there were fewer ‘dark side’ DJs doing the rounds in 2017, there was a lot to enjoy and making these final choices was quite a challenge.

1. Shimotsukei – Future_Proof Sounds mix series 005

Shimotsukei has been single-handedly propping up the scene during its quieter spells – it wouldn’t have been that hard at all to pick a Shimo-only top 3. This set for Future_proof is my choice though, thanks to its more considered, ‘studio’ feel than her (still generally top class) twitch sessions. Some of the strongest Shimotsukei mixing of the year can be found here, as well as a quality structure that’s sparing enough with the melodies to make for a very welcome, darker set. Make sure to hang in there for a really excellent final third.

2. Solvynt – Lucky Lotus Online Electronic Music Festival 7

Most ambitious set of the year was definitely Solvynt’s Lucky Lotus submission, with the strongest tracklist you could possibly ask for. Melding some of the trickier tunes isn’t always successful here, but when it works, it really works. Perkele! into Shine remains the best transition I heard last year, and there are many other highlights to look out for.

3. Substanced – FINRG PODCAST 003

Third spot was a close-run thing, but in the end I went for Substanced’s masterclass in how to mix newer freeform with the old. Understandably heavy on his own, newer productions, the way they blend with a couple of classics is an encouraging reminder that the FINRG spirit is still very much intact. Some of the strongest mixing of the year, great cross-scene promotion, and hopefully a sign of things to come in 2018.

Honourable mentions

Hedonistik Ritual, Carbon Based

Let’s try that again, shall we?

Obviously I’d like to offer some huge apologies for cancelling the twitch stream at such short notice – and not even officially cancelling it here, as the couple of lines on Facebook were the very best I could manage at the time. Late on Saturday I managed to get some pretty severe food poisoning that put me completely out of action for a couple of days. An extra nice combo with the remnants of jetlag, as you can imagine…

Anyway, as the first set I’ve ever missed for any reason I’m pretty keen to make up for it ASAP. The plan is to reschedule for 10 days from now, once again at 19:00 JST. I’ll do some wider word-spreading nearer the day, but wanted to update everyone here first.

Before that I’ll be trying to catch up on a few things I’ve had planned, as well as continue with some minor and not-so-minor additions to the site. I’ve been thinking that it would be nice for TYFTH to do a better job of archiving and referencing info, both for Horsers and myself, so that’s something in the works alongside all these other posts I keep mentioning.