Available on: Phonica 12″
Samples here

On his debut release, ‘Your Words Matter’, a collaborative 12” with fellow Leeds native and Hessle Audio co-founder Ramadanman, Midland made his intentions incredibly clear. Taut, driving tech-garage met an eerie, reverb-laden taken on house music, and although it’s always going to be intimidating following a joint release with Ramadanman with your solo material – David Kennedy is consistently both a jack and master of all trades – his follow-up, Play the Game proves that Midland’s no coattail rider, levying a diverse, captivating EP of occasionally implausible magnitude, full of hidden depths.

Midland’s production style definitely owes something to his friends at Hessle, Pangaea and the aforementioned Ramadanman, but finds a nice balance between their more cerebral moments and the dancefloor – coating quite skeletal club jams in bubbling atmospherics, painting them with a  nebulous quality that frequently disperses and reshapes.

‘Play the Game’ is all echoing, hollow chords and sweeping ambience, but what makes it are those drums – tight, rattling drums, snaking forward like the slowed-down ghosts of amen breaks while vaporous vocals and coos cement that otherworldly dancefloor aesthetic.  ‘Leitmotif’ does little to dispel the ghostly vibes, reducing the tempo and adding a misty four-to-the-floor beat; it’s remembered rave, with reverb-drenched keys and fuzzy bass drifting in and out of focus to great effect. Closer ‘Head Down’ emerges in a similar fashion, cries of “baby I’m back” blended with smoky percussion and cavernous synths.

It’s not often that someone manages to capture the sound of smoke machines with such vivacity or paint a foggy landscape with this much clarity, but Midland’s solo debut achieves the perfect balance between the eerie, the euphoric and the danceable, cementing his status as an essential producer to follow over his coming releases.

Mike Coleman



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