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CD Review: Tom Middleton - "Lifetracks"

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Artist: Tom Middleton
Album: Lifetracks
Label: Six Degrees Records
Release Date: 11/06/07

Listen to the track "Shinkansen":

DJ, mixologist, and producer Tom Middleton has put out an album in his own name. You may have heard of some Middleton's other projects of the last 15 years: AMBA, COSMOS, Global Communication, and The Jedi Knights or his remixes of Prince, Coldplay, and Jamiroquai but this is his first release of his own tracks with his own name on them.

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Middleton has been composing these tracks in the background of his busy life for the last 8 years. He states his influences as everything from ambient gods Vangelis and Eno to soundtrack composers like Ennio Morricone and John Williams. Ostensibly, these songs are the idealized soundtrack for an idealized life. With almost 2 decades spent in studios, the sound quality of every instrument and mix is perfect. Despite his extensive background in electronica I was surprised to hear a lot of guitars, piano, and strings - some of them may have been electronic but instruments that aren't obviously synths were very organic sounding.

The opening track, "Prana", blew me away because it sounded exactly like the "Frippertronics" technique originated by King Crimson's Robert Fripp. This looping of guitar sounds recurs throughout the album and is a recurring theme. "Shinkansen" (listen to the track above) is probably the most uppity tune on the album as everything else is very satisfyingly mellow ambient. Middleton's Global Communication project's debut album 76:14 was declared an ambient classic of the decade, and voted the best soundtrack for lovemaking. While I'm not sure Lifetracks is a shoe-in for the first (a definite contender) I can recommend it for the second.