Minisystem Madingley

Madingley is the name of the farm that Minisystem (aka Jeff Lee) grew up on in Southern Ontario. Given that, it’s interesting that I should find the feel of the album he named after that farm to have so tellingly come out of the mind of someone who spends their time in and around the downtown campus of the University of Toronto. The album’s aesthetic has the distinct feel of a bustling College Street on a sunny and blustery winter’s day, with building micro-house beats, simple yet busy keyboard hooks, and resonant pin pricks of verdant excitement standing in for pristine architecture under renovated construction, streams of students, faculty, and neighbourhood residents shuffling about their daily business between streets of scattered greenery and storefronts. It’s an upbeat affair, with tons of unique layers and light-hearted tuneage to rest the ear on, but from track to track, it’s hard to defend against the "everything’s-the-same” critique. Minisystem’s craft comes from the method of the madness, not necessarily the material’s quality. It was born out of a need to experiment with more and more means of electronic production, but much like Toronto, it needs to venture past the impetus that originally provided its mission. As the city is no longer a strategic location, this project is no experiment. Lee is a molecular biologist, but there’s no doubt his skills reach beyond that into musicianship. It’s evident that a change of program would produce a challenging, spectacular feat of composition. Until then, break a leg. (Noise Factory)