TOM MIDDLETON: Lifetracks (Big Chill Recordings)

David Abravanel on Dec 3rd 2007 01:01 am

Tom Middleton: Lifetracks

Big Chill Recordings 2007
12 Tracks. 69mins09secs

Originally envisioned as music to wind down to after a night out, downtempo found a commercial life of its own in the mid to late nineties under the guises of trip hop, ambient breaks, and any number of dime-a-dozen compilations invoking watered-down Buddhist spirituality. Like all genres, downtempo was destined to produce some more questionable compositions. Over time, the darkness (and much of the depth) was swept out from more popular recordings, replaced by a flux of reverberated blandness (looking at you, Zero 7) leading to inevitable, laughable cash-ins like the Reindeer Room series of Christmas compilations. Suddenly, “chillout” became a new buzz genre, and the most staid dinner parties had a watered-down soundtrack.

Of course, it wasn’t always like that. Just ask Tom Middleton. As a forerunner in the early movement of dowtempo fusionism, Middleton worked with Richard D. James (on the ambient house-inflected Analogue Bubblebath EP), and, most famously, as half of Global Communication, the pioneering ambient and deep house act, whose 76:14 is rightfully acclaimed as the summit of ambient house and techno. Continue Reading »

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