As if naming himself after a synthesizer wasn’t a clear enough guide to the sound of General Midi’s musical leanings then the opening track, ‘Statement of Intent’, leaves little doubt. Clean bouncing breaks with hefty doses of old skool electro are the order of the day. After a brief flirtation with a Blaxploitation guitar riff your speakers are soon swamped by a squelching bass line and the Midi music manifesto voiced by MC Jakes. As far as opening shots go it’s hardly a call for revolution, but MC Jakes does gleefully call the shots.
'Music for the masses and crew, This Bristol sound we present to you'
Sure, it’s hardly going to send anyone scrambling back to the blueprints for the wheel, but it may just cause a rush to the dance floor.
The high points on the record all stick to this formula and reflect the mission in their far from ambiguous titles—‘Good to Go’, ‘Rock this Place’, ‘Turn it Around’, ‘Never Gonna Stop the Show’. Big rolling beats backing the MC’s enthusiastic calls to the floor.
‘Rock this Place’ pops and locks with an old skool flava that recalls the days when Eddie Murphy wore red leather suits and the Beverly Hills Cop theme had nothing to do with frogs, crazy or otherwise. The robotic vocals never stray from instructing the b-boys and girls to, well… rock the place, but what more does such a straight up piece of funky electro need?
Continuing the up-tempo shenanigans MC Chickaboo rises from a dubby intro to tip towards Ragga for her cameo on ‘Turn It Around’. As with her star turn on Timo Maas’ ‘Shifter’ she isn’t to shy about delivering the goods. ‘Tell me What You Want’ is reheated synth-pop which follows the Jacques Lu Cont school of 80s revivalism rather than the teachings at the Ladytron campus.
However these solid vocal tracks leave the instrumental cuts to suffer a little in comparison. Lacking a MCs troop rallying presence they tend to drift by without fuss. Though ‘The Easterner’ will comfortably seep into chilled mixes; should go nicely with that gin as you drift off in the late afternoon sun. In response, ‘The Westerner’, closes the record with a far more insistent beat, occasional gun shot ring and snips of a Clint Eastwood-like drawl.
Also dropping the force of the Midi attack, but none of its retro vibe, is the albums midpoint which takes in the (surely) past its time novelty of the drunken answering machine message. ‘Jason Calling’ serves all the purpose of a hip-hop record skit, barely funny the first time skipped past every other listen. ‘Rattle Ya Cage’ uses another old trick—sampling an evangelical preacher. But adding a driving beat behind cries that the ‘Lord does not go shopping or watch TV’ almost always works and fortunately Midi doesn’t feel the need to change the rule.
Midi Style has all the bounce and sheen of a new beach ball and like that ball it’s probably best shared with several thousand of your nearest and dearest a summer beach party. Sure the ball won’t last long and you’ll probably get a new one next summer—but it’s damn good fun while it lasts.