Midland is easily one of the most recognizable names to come out of Britain’s recent house boom. Having entered the music world through collaborations with Pearson Sound (then Ramadanman) and built strong relationships with labels such as Aus Music and More Music, Midland boasts a near immaculate discography. Last year’s “Placement EP” was his most substantial release to date and saw him finally shake the dubstep and bass music tags that were thrust upon him. Not only that, it presented his clearest vision yet, stringing together various aspects of the current music climate into four cuts of modern house. Continuing his ongoing relationship with Aus Music, the “Trace EP” is his first output of the year and is released courtesy of Will Saul.
From the start of “Trace” it’s obvious Midland is aiming for a more direct approach. Longtime listeners will notice this through the surprising lack of meandering synths. For the most part his tracks have always been stripped down, but “Trace” is left with the bare essentials – sharp stabs, bouncy kick, rubbery bass, and a vaguely familiar vocal repeating “In love with the beats like I am.” Undoubtedly, this works like a charm in a club, but fans of his earlier work might feel something is lacking. This year is already shaping up to be one full of awkward track titles, “For (Yacht) Club Use Only” (maybe a pun on Delroy Edwards’ “4 Club Use Only”, a gritty, ghetto track whereas this is a relatively polished one) is among them. Again, we’re looking at a minimal piece of music, but he’s proven himself adept at squeezing the most out of simple melodies. About halfway through we get one of those traditional Midland breakdowns with crisp pads joining the mix for the last few minutes. The B-side is definitely a harder hitting track and has a slight resemblance to Dusky’s “Every Day”. The time of Midland feeling out sounds appears to have come to an end, as he seems to have found a healthy spot in between cerebral and monotonous club music. It’s clear that his constant touring has allowed him to focus on exactly what a dancefloor wants.
Stream: Midland – Trace EP (Aus Music)
Midland’s Trace EP is available now on Aus Music.