[ALBUM REVIEW] Tom Trago: The Light Fantastic
"Come, and trip it as ye go
On the light fantastic toe,
And in thy right hand lead with thee,
The Mountain Nymph, sweet Liberty"
- John Milton, L'Allegro
Is Tom Trago this right hand Milton describes?
Seeing as we’re not in the 17th century, probably not. But his most recent and third LP released by Amsterdam label Rush Hour might as well be the hand leading us to sweet sonic liberty.
The Light Fantastic.
In other words, this album is epic. No two tracks sound the same yet they all have the same touch and speak the same language – testimony to an LP that sings with the sincerity of its producer. Trago takes us on a journey through house sprinkled with the joys of disco and techno that move with a melangé of grit, grace and guts. Amongst these 10 tracks Tom reveals his ability to pace excitement, building and releasing tension as a means of complete captivation, allowing you to settle in the LP with the mindset of "ok, I’m here, let’s do this".
Beginning with two and a half minutes of The Light Fantastic foreplay, Tom sets "this" mood exactly the way he wants it. An ascending chord progression starting deep and moving higher, with his pitches wide in range to create an expanse of space, oscillating notes which give off a sense of unease and ending the track before we can call it a climax.
With a slither of irony after cutting us short, Tom’s next track featuring UK lad Ben Westbeech and his fellow Dutchie San Proper is titled “True Friends”. The promise of the helping hand, which Tom offers as he ventures to go “Down Under” on us at Track 4. A memorable musical moment as his 3-chorded bass motif leaves you feeling…ooft. (These 3-chords also being the very same ones that characterise his Panorama mix from well before The Light Fantastic’s official release).
With these three deep’n'dirty chords and the driving high-hats in between, it almost seems like an innuendo overdose that Tom’s next track is titled “Jack Me”. But it is. And it’s great.
Behind what might just seem like a mantra to getting laid – “Give it to me. Hold my body. Jack Me All Night Long” – Tom also pays homage to the history of house, where the genre’s name came from the curiosity spiked by the tracks being spun at the Warehouse club in Chicago, where the “Jack” began. A good choice for the core of the album.
So after being Jacked, where does Tom takes us?
On a hard and fast journey to that Light Fantastic he began with. Track 7, “The Elite” has a piercing, stacatto melody that is interrupted with a lush, brass sample which counteracts to have the effect of being in a sweaty club thinking about Mickey Mouse.
Next up, his collaboration with Panorama Bar Resident Steffi on “Two Together” takes a more driving turn, where the end is in sight and there’s no slowing down. That’s until we reach “Desire”, his gentle afterplay to a memorable ride with heavy, dripping male vocals and shivering suspensions that leave us with a tension familiar to a morning-after scenario: you wanna stay but you’ve already left.