Midland, Archive 01

[Graded]


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It appears more common than ever for artists to have their own vanity labels, yet there is still something special about the launch of one. This is their moment to get as weird they please or to release tracks other labels would drool over. Great expectations, perhaps. With the launch of Graded, Midland is a new member of the label owners’ club. On Archive 01, the English producer unexpectedly returns to sounds which served him well in the past and roughs them up for 2013.

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Even “Archive 01″‘s title suggests it may have been relatively long in coming. That hardly takes away from its immediacy or poignancy, as chunky hand drum patterns and a smudged, flaring bass line soon greet listeners. Sliding in a delectable, “lovin'” vocal sample and tasteful FM synthesis, Midland’s nods to his signature sounds elevate the track to sit with his best work. “Realtime” doesn’t start out as promisingly, draping soft pads over a stuttering vocal and one-note bass in a way redolent of 2011’s “Bring Joy” without all the reverb or breakbeats. Instead, the bass line loosens up and leans into new notes, joined by friendly but muted vocal segments. It’s pleasant if understated such that”Realtime” will likely keep a dance floor moving without gaining many new participants. Graded 001 is hardly a bold opening move for Midland’s label, but its accessibility suggests that won’t matter much to DJs or dancers.

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