Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tom Middleton - The Sound Of The Cosmos (Part 1: Historical Musings)

Hooj Choons: 2002

The Sound Of The Cosmos was a big deal when it dropped in ye' olde year of 2002, though I'm hard pressed in giving adequate reasons from a modern perspective. It's a class mix all around, no doubt, but were we really so enamoured by 3CD DJ mixes at the turn of the century? Not at all, the format actually rather rare as the 2CD route was the traditional method of letting a jock stretch their skills behind the decks (turntable or studio). Besides, with a market thoroughly saturated in DJ mix CDs and a consumer base not exactly flush with funds at the time, it was simply commercially viable sticking with a proven formula, folks more than willing to spring on double-disc sets. Anything more and you’re looking at box set compilations on the cheap(ish).

Let’s put it this way: even though a triple-disc set from Sasha, Digweed, Tenaglia or Cox would be a sure-fire money maker at the turn of the millennium, none of them did the deed, the buying public content with the 2CD format. Even after Mr. Middleton’s The Sound Of The Cosmos earned all the plaudits, praises and Best DJ Mix accolades, the market still stuck things out with single and double-disc rinse outs. A few triple-disc releases cropped up in Balance and Renaissance 3D, but it wasn’t until recent years that we’ve seen far more examples of the 3CD DJ mix, even if only as something intended for hardcore collectors. And yes, you may point out the irony what with the ol’ aluminum’s dwindling prospects as the public’s preferred playback method.

This leads us to our next quandary: why Tom Middleton? For sure he’s a respected name in the world of electronic music, his discography already filled with classics by the time this came out (Jedi Knights, Global Communication, Cosmos, Secret Ingredients), but not exactly well versed in the commercial DJ mix business. A couple outings for Mixmag aside, The Sound Of The Cosmos was his first proper release in the market, and Hooj Choons saw nothing less fitting than giving the Muzik Magazine Q&A columnist a three disc concept release as a debut. I guess they had no choice if he was to see his vision to fruition - centering mixes around the three main tenants of music wouldn’t do if relegated to portions of two CDs. Maybe Mr. Middleton was owed a few favours from Mr. Red Jerry.

More likely though, ol’ Tom had garnered so much positive karma within the industry that it was only appropriate that he get such a project green-lit by Hooj Choons. It also garnered him plenty of kudos from everyone who came within earshot of The Sound Of The Cosmos, an epic DJ mix that wilfully defied standards of the time, even setting off a few trends of its own. For details on that, however, check out Part 2 of this review. Hey, if In Trance We Trust 020 gets a two-parter, so does this.


ACE TRACK:
I didn’t talk about any music here. That said, be sure to check out some of Tom Middleton’s other projects too!

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