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White Noise: Midland - Drumtrak / Diving Bell

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Midland - Drumtrak / Diving Bell

Label: Graded

There’s a quiet, subtle quality that has pervaded Midland’s work to date. From his breakout collaboration with Ramadanman to last year’s Placement EP on Aus, his productions excel without ever going all-out, relying more on tasteful house mechanics and a eagle-eyed knack for atmospheric detail. While his work rarely strays into mould-breaking territory, his crop of 2013 releases have been a dependable source of quality tunes, from the crowd-pleasing Trace to African-themed Checkbob via the growling Archive01 on his own Graded imprint. For his second outing on Graded Midland continues to plough his particular furrow, focused on the ‘floor with just enough weirdness to stand out from the crowd.

Drumtrak is a pleasurable trip, its incoherent vocals adding a nervous edge to the undulating bass riff that dominates the track. Midland’s approach to groove remains shadowy, teasing dance motifs from a monochrome palette and simple drum patterns that remain fleet-footed despite their muscularity. Meanwhile Diving Bell takes a step into more abstract territory, watery synths casting a filtered light over patiently arranged bleeps and clicks. The languorous chords contrast delicately with the increasingly anxious percussion, making for a curiously compelling journey almost reminiscent of Actress. On the Drum Dub the B-side is inverted, its melodies reduced to an aqueous break from a stuttering field of precise beatscience. Midland doesn’t operate far from the mainstream, but his work remains just singular enough, relying on leftfield hooks and a jittery momentum that continues to impress on each successive release.


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