Midland, Play The Game EP

[Phonica Records]

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It’s probably safe to say most of us first heard of Leeds producer Midland through his collaboration with Ramadanman for Aus Music earlier this year, a pair of piano house rollers that were quite uncharacteristic of his companion producer’s typical productions. But Midland isn’t exactly the house producer that release made him out to be. In fact, his first solo EP on Phonica Records is much more in line with the mercurially unclassifiable, dubstep-informed sound of his fellow community of Leeds producers. “Play The Game” lays down restless, crowded percussion on top of lush, blissful chords while deformed vocals moan and gasp. It’s such an effective build-up mechanism it almost feels too easy, but if the swooning chords don’t get you the jittery, rapid-fire drums will. The remix from Dutch techno producer Dexter is akin to deep frying a cake, saturating it with another layer of guilty pleasure, as he smooths out the percussion into a more straightforward thump and engorges the chords with warm and fuzzy distortion. He even throws in orchestral hits to heighten the ridiculous sense of drama; like the original, it’s difficult to take completely seriously but its uninhibited ecstasy is contagious.

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The other tracks are perhaps simpler, with “Leitmotif” playing up the techno aspect of Midland’s sound with a surging seismic bass line and reverberating drones that echo into vast, unseen distances, slowly building up to an almost psychedelic wash of hazy repetition. “Head Down” works on a similar level, layering decaying vocals that bleed through the barrier of blissful pads and infiltrate the left-behind spaces. For a relatively fresh and new face, Midland has a well-established sound, though I’d be hard-pressed to categorize it; he crosses boundaries at an impressive rate even when crossing boundaries is becoming the norm. His music is sleek, sexy, danceable, sometimes even euphoric — what more do you need?

Nitzan  on July 21, 2010 at 2:59 AM

Brilliant — and a great new direction.

Si  on August 2, 2010 at 9:38 AM

the Dexter mix of this is incredible! Only came across it after listening to Mizeks mix

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