Tom Trago - The Light Fantastic
'The Light Fantastic' doesn't reinvent the wheel in terms of house music, but what it recreates is recreated extremely well. Done with a bunch of friends and collaborators, the result is friendly, almost casual. There is nothing overly serious, conceptual or high art about this album -- simply feel good, rocking numbers that go the distance.
Tracks like 'True Friends' and 'For the Children' are hopeful, bright and optimistic. Nu-disco inflected, but none of the formulaic recreations thankyouverymuch, perhaps due to Tom Trago coming in from a slightly offbeat angle, with the combined help of friends that give the tracks personality and collective soul.
The jackin' house track 'Jack Me' does what it says on the tin with a breathy female vocal leading the track in that dirty, raw Chicago style with a long string of predecessors from Steve Silk Hurley to Chuck Roberts. Tom Trago's version is stripped down with a little less booty but effective nonetheless.
'Cosmic Blacksmith' gets its name from the ironworks sound of metal on metal clinking away, distortion burn and fiery reverb. A fun and groovy track that does the work whether on the dance floor or even as I imagine, a videogame soundtrack. 'The Elite' borrows cues from tv show extravaganza with big reveals adding excitement and pizazz.
Arguably, 'Two Together' is the stomper of the album, with a driving, loopy and jacking style reminiscent of Derrick Carter and DJ Sneak. The percussive 'The Right Wrong' brings in the chords and vocals to create a soulful house number from the other side.
The album's closer, the breaky 'Desire' flaunts a different side of the producer and ends the album on a cosmic note, leaving the listener wondering what more the producer can do.
01. The Light Fantastic
02. True Friends
03. For The Children
04. Down Under
05. Down Under
06. Cosmic Blacksmith
07. The Elite
08. Two Together
09. The Right Wrong
10. I Still Desire
Axel Boman - Family Vacation
Swedish house producer and Red Bull Music Academy alumni member, Axel Boman broke through with the infectious 'Purple Drank' on Pampa Records but proves he is no one-hit wonder with a gorgeous and intimate album that shows his music depth and reach. This, 'Family Vacation' out on his co-owne Studio Barnhus label is informal house music filled with history, funk and soul.
Apparently, the album is inspired by old soul legend Sam Cooke and a mystery murder. He says, "The story concerns the death of this old soul legend and I’m a white Swedish kid sampling old soul legends’ music, and giving my take on it.”
He adds, “All the tracks on Family Vacation are like ‘last track’ songs for DJs, an entire album’s worth.” Jolly good.
A favourite of the album, 'Dance All Night' twinkles into soft existence, with conga/bongo drums leading the dance. 'No Sweden' takes on a swingy, jivey stance with Indianesque swirls that creep up on your toes in an understated way. Before you know it, you're head-nodding and toe-tapping to one Axel Boman.
'Son of a Plumber' pounds away earnestly and industriously, eking out a steady groove that bounces out of a light-filled room. While the carnivalesque, cartoony 'Bottoms Up' ends the album on an upbeat, off-centre note - that's all folks!
I won't spoil the listening experience for you now. Every track here is special in its own right, and a careful composition that took years to be assembled and presented as Axel's debut. For a mellow, early hours/after hours and somewhat insider take on house music, you can't get better than this. It doesn't have to be all hands-in-the-air bangers, but it's armchair raving music that can very well just implode within you for the same reason.
01. Can’t Find It
02. Kings & Emperors
03. Fantastic Piano
04. Dance All Night
05. No Sweden
06. Let’s Get Nervous
08. Son Of A Plumber
10. Animal Lovers
11. New Krau Era
12. No! No! No! No!
13. Bottoms Up
Daniel Avery - Drone Logic
An overdue review for what has already made it to several top lists for albums of the year. Daniel Avery, Fabric resident and dubbed by Andrew Weatherall as 'one to watch' has created an album for the DJ. In any case, his sensibility as one has shaped the way this album unfolds. Like a DJ mix taking the listener through peaks and troughs, and each track being able to work in different ways at different spaces.
He says: "The album’s opening track 'Water Jump' was made 100% to be played in Fabric Room One. The sound of it, the way the breakdown works… it was recorded with the space, the system, the lights and the people that fill that room in mind. On the other hand, there are definitely tracks made with the small room in mind, the two hundred capacity club with one strobe and a smoke machine working overtime…”
'Water Jump' absolutely grabs your attention, making it a perfect opener, with its female chanting, break beats and synth progression keeping you expecting more. The following track, 'Free Floating' is a definitely pick. Segueing perfectly from intro to a longer teaser, it stuns with its multi-faceted 3-part construction, an impression built upon an already impressive opener.
Next, the track title's 'Drone Logic' gets into the meat of things. Informed by Daniel's own influences from Underworld to Chemical Brothers, the rave element is unmissable, yet updated to the sound of 2013, evident also in the tracks 'Naive Response' and 'Need Electric'.
Like a palate cleanser, 'Spring 27' cuts through the noise with a simple evolving tone that destroys and comes back, but rather than calming or meditative, it carries with it a character of being reborn.
The last two tracks, 'New Energy (Live Through It) and 'Knowing We'll Be Here' ends the album on a "hi-NRG" note, bringing back the euphoria of stadium raves, castle raves, bush raves back to a new generation of youth.
01. Water Jump
02. Free Floating
03. Drone Logic
04. These Nights Never End
05. Naive Response
06. Platform Zero
07. Need Electric
08. All I Need
09. Spring 27
11. New Energy (Live Through It)
12. Knowing We'll Be Here