After a stunning debut on Crossfrontier Audio two months ago with a remix of label-boss Marc Poppcke, Berlin-based producer Midas 104 returns with a three-track EP.

First up, we have ‘Phobia’, a collaboration with Nils Twachtmann. Despite the name, ‘Phobia’ is actually the sunniest of the three tracks, featuring a buzzing bassline that the foundation of the melodic core of the track, as Midas 104 and Twachtmann arrange layers of countermelodies and brassy swells over it, leading to a climax just before the fantastic, string-led breakdown. There’s a splash of melancholic beauty to the track that makes it work, though I didn’t like the rather needless use of distorting effects in the second half, which interfered with the melodic flow of the track rather than enhancing it. Overall, though, this has plenty of great, well-executed ideas.

‘Narkose’ fires kicks and tuned percussion at the listener, before a warbling lead synth line takes over, backed by a similar bass part. Sadly, I can’t say that the track appealed to me much. The sound here reminds me of records from a few years ago like Popof’s ‘Shades’ and Solee’s ‘Aragorn’, and while I like both of those records, it’s not a sound that has aged particularly well in my view, and I found the musical ideas rather more unsettling than inspiring.

‘Sugar’ takes the EP into techier territory, dropping the tempo and providing a dark, distinctive workout. The track is driven towards the breakdown by a rumbling, growling bass, unnerving bleeps, and rising waves of raw sound, while the breakdown itself is pure menace. A chanted vocoder sample climbs out of the morass, gradually taking firmer shape just in time to provide a compelling lead for the climax of the track, thanks to some terrific vocal work from Midas 104. It’s not really my cup of poison either, but it’s easy to hear that on the right dancefloor it would be devastating.

It’s nice to see Crossfrontier branching out from their core warm house/progressive/techno sound again here with this EP from Midas 104. I wasn’t always keen on the results, but that’s always a danger when pushing the boat out a bit. In any case, ‘Phobia’ is likely to appeal to fans of thoughtful, melodic techno, while ‘Sugar’ is all set to trip out a dark basement somewhere. 7/10

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