Monday 15 February 2021

Midlake - Particle Separation Room (2001-2013)


Midlake formed in Denton, Texas, in 1999 by a group of musicians who had attended the North Texas School of Music together: Paul Alexander (bass, keyboards), Eric Nichelson (keyboards, guitar), Eric Pulido (guitar, keyboards, background vocals), Tim Smith (vocals, keyboards, guitar), and Mckenzie Smith (drums). They issued their debut  EP, Milkmaid Grand Army, in 2001.

Their first full-length album, Bamnan and Slivercork, was released in July 2004. It showed a move in the direction of lo-fi psychedelic electronica, embracing influences such as Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips. For their next album, Midlake changed gears and moved away from the psychedelic leanings of their debut toward a more '70s-influenced sound. Released in 2006, The Trials of Van Occupanther featured the same lineup and a sound reminiscent of harmony-rich soft rock bands like America and Laurel Canyon troubadours like Neil Young and Gene Clark.

Their 3rd LP, The Courage of Others, arrived in February 2010. The album, which showcased Tim Smith's brooding baritone vocals, had a slower pace and denser musical arrangements inspired by British prog-folk acts like Pentangle, Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band.

In 2011 they headed to Buffalo, Texas and began writing new material for their fourth album. After playing a few live shows in 2012, lead singer and songwriter Smith decided to leave the band and formed a new project, Harp. Undeterred by his departure, the remaining members returned to the studio and scrapped two years of work to start from scratch. Pulido was installed on lead vocals and new members Jesse Chandler (piano/flute) and Joey McClellan (guitar) joined the outfit.

Their fourth release, Antiphon, was released in October 2013. "Antiphon is the most honest representation of the band as a whole, as opposed to one person's vision that we were trying to facilitate," Pulido remarked in the album's press release, which characterizes the new music as "free-flowing in feel, concise in structure ... it's very much Midlake, but uncannily rebooted, and relaxed". Antiphon is more rooted in progressive rock than their earlier records.


I was a bit of a latecomer to Midlake, not really coming to my attention until I heard their 2nd album "The Trials of Van Occupanther". I didn't think that much of it on first listen, but with repeated plays it soon became one of my favourite releases of 2006. This collection features tracks from their 4 studio albums, and a couple of EP tracks. Also featured are some "bonus" tracks such as "Rose of Dawn" which was released on the Japanese edition of "The Courage of Others", and the re-animation of "Roscoe" by Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, which I prefer to the original version. "Festival" was previously unreleased, not seeing the light of day until appearing on the 10th anniversary edition of "Van Occupanther", and finally an excellent version of Black Sabbath's "Am I Going Insane" from their LateNightTales compilation. All info containing track origin & year of release is tagged in the music files and in the download file. I hope you enjoy this latest collection and as ever keep staying safe!

  1. In This Camp (5:41)
  2. Mopper's Medley (4:57)
  3. It's Going Down (3:16)
  4. Fortune (2:02)
  5. Roller Skate (Farewell June) (3:31)
  6. Roscoe (Beyond the Wizards Sleeve Re-Animation) (6:48)
  7. It Covers the Hillsides (3:10)
  8. The Courage of Others (3:13)
  9. The Old and the Young (5:35)
10. Mornings Will Be Kind (2:44)
11. Rose of Dawn (2:59)
12. They Cannot Let It Expand (2:52)
13. Festival (5:11)
14. Young Bride (4:50)
15. Am I Going Insane (6:02)
16. Bring Down (3:35)
17. This Weight (3:32)
18. Kingfish Pies (4:15)
19. Head Home (5:43)

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