You only have to have a casual listen to Midland's debut release to hear what has made him stand out as an artist. His joint ‘Your Words Matter’ b/w ‘More Than You Know’ 12" (a collaboration with his then house mate Pearson Sound back in 2010) is brimming with so many different genre calling cards. The cut up cheeky garage quips, the joy inducing keys lifted straight from Detroit, all landed with a grime breakdown are an example of some of the references at play within the London based artist’s output.
The years have certainly seen him continue this eclectic tradition but he’s since found himself more weighted in the house and techno realm. His Resident Advisor podcast from earlier this year went some way to solidifying the crunching beats that are the hallmark of his current DJ style - something that calls on the classic but yet has been brought up to something totally modern. With an artist who so obviously calls on so many styles as his influences, we were more than excited when he agreed to compile some of his most influential records for us. Here he’s offering up an insight into the music that has shaped him, going deep into the tracks of his childhood and on into some of the electronic beats that tipped the balance…
1. Talk Talk - The Rainbow - Spirit of Eden
A few years ago my mum and dad cleared a bunch of stuff out of the house and me and my brother went to collect it. Going through it, he came across his well worn vinyl copy of "Spirit of Eden", he gave it to me and I took it home and had my mind blown. Its rare that I connect to music so quickly without tiring of it so soon after. This track is the perfect intro, its part Americana and part blues. Their use of dynamics is a continued source of inspiration, I have listened to it hundreds of times since.
2. The Streets - Turn The Page
Original pirate material is an album that has been written about in such great detail, but I don't think you can underestimate the importance of this record. This as an opening is like a call to arms. Those strings, every time they come in I start to well up, no joke. The fact he made this album in his bedroom just shows, it’s not about mixdowns but getting that lump in your throat infront of a computer at four in the morning when no ones around, in the witching hour.
3. Moderat - A new Error
This album came in to my life just after finishing university at a time when my five year obsession with Drum and Bass was beginning to falter. Its hard to underestimate the effect this had on me. Suddenly tempo was so irrelevant, and it was total lightbulb moment.
I always imagine marching in to some futuristic Terminator 2 type war whenever I hear it.
4.TRG - Broken Heart (Martyn Remix)
This record. This record still kills me. I lived with David (Pearson Sound/Rams/Maurice) for about 5 years during university and afterwards down in London. As such I have been very lucky to watch Hessle Audio grow from a conversation over tea and biscuits in Ben and Kev's living room about what they were going to call it to hosting a residency at your club and DJing all over the world.
The first few releases on the label were all quiet game-changers but this one kind of broke the label. It was floating round on dub for about a year and EVERY time it came on in a club and that sub comes in it was the pinnacle of the night. Memories....
5. Missy Elliot - Hot Boy
Trying to pick one Timbaland production is impossible. But for me it has to be this one. Its basically 4 elements. Kick, Sub, Snare, Sample. This takes me back to being 13 and driving round in a mates older brothers car listening to this up loud. Music will never sound as good as it did in my teens.
6. Actress - N.E.W
Like some sinister looping public service jingle in an abandoned power station in a far off galaxy. Well at least to me.
7. Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song
I think this is the first time I ever truly fell in love with a piece of music. To me its "Stairway to Heaven"s weird older cousin. I remember going on one of my first parentless summer holidays with mates about 14 years old. One of my best friends played this to me and we basically listened to it all day everyday. The way he sings and the lyrics have a sort of poetic metre, each phrase bookended by that weird chorsed guitar riff which you first hear at 0.29. Sometimes you come across a song that you can't even begin to comprehend because it speaks to you so personally and this is one of them.
8. Radiohead - Everything In Its Right Place
How do I pick one Radiohead record. How? I was so obsessed with them as a teenager, I had all their Japanese only releases and DVD's like "meeting people is easy". I think I chose this one because it came after the mindblowing acclaim of "Ok Computer" and was like a reset switch. No one saw it coming, and that is why I love and continue to be inspired by them. They are always adapting, and digging deeper. This was a classic case of no thought it was that good and then suddenly it dawned on them it was the best one yet.
9. Massive Attack - Protection
Finally, this one. I think all the best music, has to have some melancholy and this one has it in spades. I remember listening to this as a youth and it took me away. I used to want to make films when I grew up, and even years before I ever saw the video, I used to imagine a long slow tracking shot on the outside of council estates and empty cityscapes at night. Tracy Thorns voice in this is heartbraking, the production has that menace, its stone cold.
10. Instra:mental - Pacific Heights
For me, as a complete drum and bass head this came along and changed everything.
This was like jungle reduced to it's most efficient elements. Then there is the synths, part soundtrack, part 80's nostalgia, with every subsequent release they pushed the envelope a little bit further. The impact of the Autonomic podcasts and the releases on Darkestal and Nonplus+ on drum and bass as a whole was seismic.