Tom Middleton

Lifetracks

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For someone who has had a prolific 15-year career as a producer, DJ, remixer, and composer, it's sure taken Tom Middleton a long time to come up with a solo album under his own name (the ones previously released under the pseudonyms AMBA, Cosmos, and Global Communication don't count, because those were all collaborations with Mark Pritchard). Lifetracks finds him working in a style that rather curiously fuses elements of ambient techno, prog rock, hip-hop, funk, and even classical impressionism in ways that are both immediately accessible and generally quite interesting. "Prana," the album's opening track, plays simultaneous homage to King Crimson and Steve Reich with its repeated and shifting guitar patterns; "Beginning of the Middle" is a bit jazzier, but never really gets off the ground. However, "Shinkansen" manages to be both gently pleasant and compellingly funky at the same time (a more difficult feat than you might imagine), and "Astral Projection" brings an element of trip-hop into the mix. Fans of the Orb, Brian Eno's non-ambient and ambient work, and Vangelis will all find plenty to enjoy here. Recommended.

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