TORANDO WALLACE – MIDNIGHT MANIA (OPTIMO MUSIC, 2020)



The organic tones are back in town, as the Australian producer weaves his way through a new magical epic filled with vitality and ever lasting depth.


When fluidity and tonal exchange come across as the life blood of a tune, the forces that move within expressing the movement through mood, the essence exuding a carefreeness that reflects control yet open-ended at the same time, you certainly have a winning formula. Its almost as if the world itself, the various systems and interactions that feed into and out of it, inform the music, a series of narratives that sing true within all of us. It is quite the skill to be able to provide that kind of experience within a song, but more often than not it always gets created by people who have a vision within their music that allows us to come in and be a part of it. Its the enveloping, its the emotionally connected, its the moments where we allow ourselves to move away from our seat and be placed within a new and exciting environment. Through the complexities of rhythm and the deepness of chordal exchanges, we see a value in just letting go, giving into the music as much as it wants to open up to us. That kind of relationship between listener and music persists within many genres, particularly those producers who look and listen and feel more so with their music. Looking beyond the surface level, when you look into the complexities and mood, that is where we find ourselves craving for more, music to serve alongside us in lifes many ins and outs, music that compels us forward into new realms and undserstandings.


Tornado Wallace has certainly occupied many strands of the spectrum within his music, trying his hand at all manner of sounds, experiences and atmospheres. His music always throws up a certain feel, a warmth that exists when its very core, but the surface level always feels a bit different, as the producer has weaved through the boundaries of house, disco house and edits ever since his debut back in 2011. His EP work always includes effortless progressions, beautiful dynamics between the lows and the highs, and a groove that always surprises and delights, no matter the context. His edit work has been a notable highlight, with all the right elements broken down and built up again to create breathtaking tunes that have burned very brightly on dance floors, and lead these records to be highly sought after. This demand is of no surprise, as the quality of his releases doesn’t just fall into the technical appreciation of it all, but the fantastic rhythmic flow and the melodic features working together to create vast emotional plains for people to get lost within. Some select highlights include the 2010 edit epic record ‘Tornado Never Dies’; the awesome 2011 release ‘Cloud Nine’; 2013’s ‘Thinking Allowed’ record; 2014’s wicked ‘Circadia’ release; and the 2017 ‘EP for Animals Dancing’ record. His EPs are more of a reflection of the groovy side of things, but within his first LP, ‘Lonely Planet’, we saw a new side to proceedings, and how fucking great it was. By taking all the features that have made people fall in love with his work, Wallace expands on the feels massively, with the record feeling fleshed out in every sense. The chords and progressions slow down to facilitate an experience of slowly traversing rather than dancing feverishly, the ebbs and flows so beautifully represented within landscapes of lush sound and vibrancy. It was an unbelievably exciting record upon its release, and demonstrated Wallace’s ability to turn the style over a long play. It really got people going for what he might deliver on his next full length.


And now we arrive here, at his new mini-LP, ‘Midnight Mania’. From the off, we are greeted to a combo of his previous EP outings paired with the densities that persist on his previous long play, a beautiful mixture of dense full drumming patterns mixed up with wonderful chordal moments that allow for real transcendence. It seems overly fitting that the record is out on Optimo Music, run by legendary DJ JD Twitch, whos djing pedigree and production outputs perfectly match up with the vibe and quality of this excellent piece of music. If the stars were to align, it was right at this moment in time. So lets dip into it.


Up first comes the title track, and theres no messing around as we move straight into it. The dense thicket drumming patterns swing in to play, the kick supplying the pulse as all manner of percussive feels create a real sense of urgency. Then, the arpeggio synth line comes in, applying itself to the rhythms working over time underneath, as a slowly emerging pad joins in from behind. As it swells, the synth line recedes, as the harmonic elements descend into deep bassy realms, really creating that sense of dynamics that persists so readily in his music. The singular bass note occupies all the space, letting you know its really fucking here, signalling the track to continue on its march forward. All the movements between the various key lines is really hypnotic, creating walls of sound that seem to move from within and jump up. The series of pads that chime consistently hint at new progressions, before they fall away to the arpeggio to plug back into proceedings, before the singular chordal pad then joins in. Its wonderfully contrasting, creating a real brooding atmosphere of sound and life. The track never really needed to up the tempo, it simply needs to create brilliant shifts between the keys to get us engaged. Damn. Up next comes ‘Atoms’, and the drumming pattern at the beginning is more sparse but fear not, the tempo is still right up there. As the track moves through the notions, the drums are coupled with the foreboding deep set cosmic synths and the vocal sample, that appears to be our shaman guide through this outer realm journey. Whereas the key work from the opener felt more entrenched in the rhythms of nature, these ones feel very much like we are moving beyond to new plains of existence, the mood and context very much up there in the stars somewhere. The harmonies develop into a series of psychedelic patterns, where swirling pads exchange places with deep bass lines, before it all switches up. The dub reverb snare signals the fullness to all come into play, the vocal sample rings true through the middle, the drums become more full, as all manner of lines and keys abound to full effect. From then on, it all moves once again, as the various elements peter out and leave us standing at the end of chuggy ecstasy. Up next comes ‘Mundane Brain’, and the drums kick off proceedings once more. The pattern is more sparse again, allowing for the various pads and little key lines to find their way into the track. The vibe is already one of constant evolution, the perimeters of the track set far and wide to allow for all the spaces to fill up with enriching sounds. As it all starts to descend, the bass becomes pumped in excessively, becoming the new pulse, creating a new sensory experience we have yet to come across within this record. As we get to know our new surroundings, the track switches up to perhaps its most sparse structure yet, the pounding bass with the stripped back keys and pads, but my god is it effect. It just shows the powerful transitions that are on display on this record, Wallace’s ability to pull off the switches between tones absolutely masterful. From this point, the track then picks up all manner of new elements, weaving a new narrative that pushes the flow forward perpetually into new depths. Its pulled off with such exceptional skill but also understanding of the tools and ingredients, and how to moves things on from a certain point in time. Brilliant.


Up next comes ”P.N.G (Praise No Ghosts)’, and we feel the rhythm once again. The drums move between the left and right, indicating the space will soon be filled by all manner of wonderful sounds. As expected, the bass underpins slightly, as jungle noises fill the space, before the key line comes in. Ravey, techno esq, but just perfect, moving like the drums between the lines wonderfully, the mood moving once more. The original line is then replaced by a beautiful progressive arpeggio key line, occupying all the space, never comprising on its realms of existence, as the track looks to really envelop our senses. The tune sort of floats within a dense world, spilling over literally into a new stage, where the drums up the ante and the key lines fall away, that is allowed to move and groove for a minute, before it all comes back together once more for a final send off. To finish things up, we have ‘Jungle Dream’, where we are greeted with one final work out. The drums are deep, fast paced and hinting at high as hell energy levels, the interlaced pads, sounds and the vocal sample only add to this anticipation of intensity. The addition of new percussive elements create a new full feel, the track now doing its thing as it moves forward. The intro of those deep deep pads only add to the emotive sensibilities, their singularity enhanced by the complexity of the drumming patterns that swirl around them. Its dubbed out, its spaced out, its beauty resonating from every corner, this is such a track, a real gem that stands at the end of a series of gems. The introduction and retraction of various elements just adds to the wonderful sense of progression and meaning that has characterised this record from the very off. Its that blend that creates such a positive listening experience, where harmonic elements and drumming patterns work as one, taking turns to take the lead or signal seismic shifts in atmosphere. oh yes.


A real sense of fulfilment is conjured up from this experience, an experience that showcases the very best and perhaps most importantly unique take on electronic music. By utilising imaginative drumming patterns, dense atomspheric tools, cosmic notions, and beautiful synth work, Wallace crafts a passage through worlds that allow for constant connections to be established, to allow for us to be within it all. The music speaks, it feels very alive, it breathes as much as it performs. Life affirming, deep, and brilliantly considered, this is an record of a life time.


Support the troops:


https://tornadowallace.bandcamp.com/album/midnight-mania

1 view