With his star ever on the rise, Midland kicks off his own imprint with the freedom to drop whatever he fancies and serves up this rock solid two tracker that sports the club-smashing dynamics the producer has made his name on. "Archive01" is a limber beast, strong enough to surge forth on a pronounced 4/4 march but offset by a fountain of twitching percussion that adds an off-kilter groove to the proceedings. With additional melodic richness carefully woven into the mix and a central vocal hook for the heat of the night, it's a resounding beast of a track. "Realtime" falls into a more steady groove peppered with playful elements from wobbly synths and spiritual vocal samples that add a more uplifting spirit to proceedings.
Although he has made his name through his releases for Aus Music, some of Midland's most forward thinking music was released on his Graded label when it commenced operations this summer as an outlet for his own productions. The second release, Drumtrak, sees him continue his bold strides in the world of UK house and techno with three more similarly difficult to pigeonhole productions. The title track may start off with a familiar 4/4 pulse, but its Afrobeat-inspired percussion, unnerving vocal sample and rumbling bass have echoes of Kwaito in its DNA. "Diving Bell" meanwhile offers a sleeker more syncopated rhythm and sweeping dub chords that seem to reflect the watery nature of the track's title, getting deeper as it descends. The "Drum Dub" of "Diving Bell" removes much of its melodic element to create something altogether more abstract, and is perhaps the dancefloor focused highlight of what is an excellent EP.
Harry Agius continues to build his profile via releases that willfully blur the boundaries between deep house, tech-house and contemporary bass music. For the most part, Placement is fairly traditional in its outlook, offering musical blends that err on the side of caution. That's not to say there's not great material; far from it, in fact. "Placement" and "What We Know" boast both drive and swing, and come loaded with the kind of crackly acid lines and electronic riffs that recall Brown Album-era Orbital. The impressive "Tape Burn" goes deeper, offering hissing snares, barely audible pianos and stoned atmospheres, while "Tail Ender" delivers a quietly melodic take on ambidextrous bass music.
Harry 'Midland' Aguis has been responsible for some Aus gems, not least his 2010 debut with Ramadanman and this two track Trace maintains his Midas touch for the label. The title track contains trace elements (geddit?) of Midland's previous work as thickly delivered synth tones combine deftly with booming 4/4 kicks and the sort of nonsensical vocal hook that worms its way all too easily into your cerebral cortex. Still though our favourite however is "For (Yacht) Club Use Only", which is clearly inspired by the Delroy Edwards production of the very similar name.
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