Review: In 2009 Tom Trago stamped, sealed and delivered what went down as one of the best house, instrumental hip hop and disco mutations we've seen - up there with the likes of New World Aquarium, Aardvark, Awanto 3 and the entire Detroit inspired crew. Resulting in the future launch of Trago's Voyage Direct label that added a new arm to Holland's house music prowess, Voyage Direct's original release came at a time when the likes of Rondenion, Nebraska to Daniel Wand and Rick Wilhite were dominating Rush Hour's agenda. With tracks like "Brothers Of String", "Lost In The Streets of NYC) and "Live At The BBQ" withstanding the sands of time, to the nu-disco-fied "Use Me", this entire album is well worth the remaster to revisit. Word up to the Carter Brothers if you're out there.
Review: Bergen, the title of Tom Trago's last artist album from 2018, refers to the place on the Dutch north west coast where he now calls home. This location has coincided with Trago refocusing his approach to music-making, and he now uses a more rudimentary set-up than before. It results in lo-fi beat tracks like "Whisper", which Trago overlays with out there bleeps and tinkling keys. On "Belltower", he ups the tempo, delivers a more electronic groove and adds in swirling, expansive synth-scapes. It sounds like a close relation to the work of that other Dutch coast dweller, Legowelt.
Review: Dekmantel rounds off a hugely successful year with a compilation that reflects the organisation's multi-faceted approach. At one end of the spectrum there's the dubbed out groove and spacey vocals of Peaking Light's "Blind Corner" and tropical act Bruxas' left of centre beats, while at the other end Robert Hood delivers the blistering techno of "Red Machine". In between these extremes, there are Dekmantel-supported artists such as Betonkust & Palmbomen II - impressing here with the Legowelt-esque "Renaat Egypte" - and zeitgeist-defining names like Lena Willikens and Matrixxman. Add in some Dutch scene veterans such as Tom Trago, on fine form with the epic but understated "Working Machines", and it's not hard to see why 2018 was a great year for the Dutch collective.
Review: A true staple of the Amsterdam scene, the Rush Hour affiliated Yuri Boselie aka Cinnaman takes up the reins for local institution Dekmantel's extended tenth birthday celebrations with this mastermix. It takes in the entirety of the 10 volume edition - what an effort. What may seem as an outrageous challenge - what with the compilation's genre diversity and wide rage of tempos - it's a success, for they've certainly found the right candidate. Cinnaman plays a wide range of styles anyway, and is never afraid to mix the known with the unknown - he has a reputation for his remarkable combinations and transitions. From moments of sublime ambience (Italian ambient legend Gigi Masin with the utterly evocative "Maja") to bass heavy electro bounce (courtesy of Egyptian Lover or Syracuse & Epsilove), right through to techno bangers of the cerebral variety (by Donato Dozzy & Peter Van Hoesen or local hero Talismann) and stuff by Bufiman or Tony Allen - it's a solid effort here by one of Holland's finest selectors.
Review: This is Amsterdam scene stalwart Tom Trago's fourth album, coming five years after The Light Fantastic. Trago set up a new studio at his family home, in the coastal town of Bergen in the northern Netherlands. The album was made with the purpose of creating a global sound, along with the music that has influenced him throughout his life in a new yet natural environment. That is evident throughout the album, because it's a rather diverse affair which demonstrates his expertise in the studio and the impressive variety in his repertoire. From the chill, blunted urban ode of "Bergen", the classic Detroit electro influence of "Zeeweg" or "Morph" to moments of sultry, late night deepness on the emotive "Faith Belongs To Us" or the (hi-tech) soulful closer "Working Machines" - this sees Trago at the absolute top of his game.
Review: For his first outing on his own Voyage Direct label since 2014, Tom Trago has prepared a loving tribute to his favourite synthesizer, Yamaha's 1980s classic, the DX7. What he calls the machine's "glassy but classy, icy sound" is evident throughout, as he delivers a melodious collection of tracks bristling with colourful tunefulness. Impressively, Trago has also delivered tracks that touch on a range of moods, from the bustling electro bounce of "XYZ" and soundscape-driven deepness of opener "Harvest", to the psychedelic, mind-bending dancefloor bubbliness of "Rain Room". You'll also find two different versions of "Opulent": the cascading cut-glass melodies and chunky deep house warmth of the "Without Mix" and the stab-heavy peak-time bounce of the "Within Mix".
Review: Ten years and still going strong, Amsterdam's Dekmantel are celebrating with their 10 EP series throughout 2017. Having kicked off in in March, with one EP being released every month, the series will touch upon every musical fragment that has come to define their events and festivals over the decade. On this edition, we have local hero Young Marco up first with the bouncy and summery house shenanigans of "Palace Green Beans", them American in Amsterdam Diego herrera aka Suzanne Kraft with his emotive effort "Moving". It wouldn't be an Amsterdam joint without a bit of Tom Trago right? The Voyage Direct head honcho steps in with the retro futuristic deepness of "Digital Love" until Awanto 3 brings it on home classic house style with "Pepe Mujica".
Review: Canada's Colin De La Plante, otherwise known to us mere mortals as The Mole, has arguably been one of the leaders of the second generation of house and techno producers. More specifically, the artist has been involved in the scene since the very early 00s, and has helped to shape labels such as Kompakt, Philpot and Wagon Repair into the powerhouses that they are currently. What we've always loved about this man's music is the characteristic of rebirth and reinvention that seems to represent all his music; this latest EP for Circus Company, Little Sunshine, sees him flex his artistic wings under yet another blend of sounds and influences. The title tune itself is a largely genre-less dance track that sways gently between house and downtempo, guided by a warm, almost funky bassline; "Discotheque Airplane" shifts gears again, landing somewhere lo-fi, where dusty hip-hop beats meet lonesome sonic landscapes. Another surprise move sees him pair up with the equally talented and legendary Tom Trago in the masterfully dubby and contained deep house gem "Down The Hallway", remixed by Holland's Aardvarck into a more potent blend of tech sounds for the floor. Hot!
Review: While he may have moved on musically in recent years, Tom Trago still can't escape his 2010 anthem "Use Me Again". To be fair, it is a stone cold killer - a stomping, peak-time friendly disco-house masterpiece that makes great use of elements borrowed from a particularly potent, singalong disco classic. Should you not have it in your collection - and, let's face it, you should - then this timely digital reissue is just the ticket. As it was all those years ago, the track comes accompanied by 2009's "Lost In The Streets Of NYC", a thrilling chunk of cut-up deep house heaviness complete with melancholic piano flourishes, rubbery electrofunk bass, fuzzy chords and driving beats.
Review: Originally released in 2015, Young Marco's "The Best I Could Do" shows that he is as adept in the studio as he is behind the decks. The renowned crate digger draws on his knowledge of underground house and techno for this understated, melancholic affair. Sad synths swirl up over a raw, resonating bass and the end result has a decidedly wintry feeling. House veteran Tom Trago drops a similar sounding track, "Brutal Romance (TT's Love Fix)". However, on this occasion, the groove is upbeat and the riffs are more insistent, but the same frazzled approach to production prevails. Keeping it atmospheric, Fatima Yamaha delivers the slow tempo, synth-heavy "The Creature From Culture Creation", which also featured on the original 2015 release.
Review: For their ninth release, Italian imprint Just Is has gathered together an all-star cast for a split EP that hits the mark throughout. Label regular Pisetzjky joins forces with Dutch producer Tom Trago on opener "Peru", a melancholic chunk of deep house/tech house fusion blessed with sorrowful strings and lashings of spacey synths. Long-established techno producer Eduardo De La Calle layers deep space melodies over a thunderous kick drum-driven rhythm on the sturdy "Mondo 8", while jazz drummer-turned-electronica hero Kelpe delivers the EP's finest moment. Titled "Dry Riser", it sees the London-based producer brilliantly fuse skittish live drum patterns, trippy synthesizer arpeggios, and ridiculously heavy bass.
Review: In January 2015, Seth Troxler and Tom Trago decided to mark the passing of legendary Amsterdam venue Trouw by getting together in the studio. The resultant track - a woozy, undulating, 10-minute deep house epic - was first showcased on Troxler's DJ Kicks mix last autumn. Here, it gets a deserved single release, with accompanying remixes from Prins Thomas and Voyage Direct artist Maxi Mill. The Norwegian producer does a terrific job reinventing the track as a long-slung Balearic disco gem, full of glistening guitars, chiming melodies, percussive breakdowns and heavy, punk-funk bass. In contrast, Maxi Mill emphasizes the spacey elements of the original track, laying down a rolling, Detroit-influenced deep house shuffler.
Review: Some DJs use the opportunity of a DJ Kicks mix to showcase the eclectic nature of their record collections, while others see it as a chance to give an airing to the dancefloor records that have inspired them over the years. Seth Troxler's selection sits somewhere in between. On the one hand, there are impeccable jazz and downtempo moments from the likes of Sun Ra, Herbert (as remixed by Phil Parnell) and DJ Koze, whose "Bodenweich" is an undeniably atmospheric, off-kilter delight. On the other hand, Troxler has picked out some genuinely brilliant, mostly US-centric house selections; deep, soulful and bumpin' fare from the likes of Butch, Kerri Chandler, Jasper Street Company, Mood II Swing and Derrick Carter.
Review: No less than two years after The Light Fantastic came out, tracks from Tom Trago's third album are still getting a second look by regular cats from the extended Rush Hour community. Young Marco gets to grips with "Avenido" first, and delivers a patient sermon that glides on featherweight pad lines with snowflake chimes sprinkled on top for good measure. There's still a purposeful beat kicking away underneath the melodic niceties mind you. Awanto 3 meanwhile brings a peak time urgency to "The Elite", dropping some chunky synth stabs over a nagging bassline with a lick of disco exuberance thrown in for good measure.
Review: If your finances couldn't quite stretch to buying all four releases in the unique Dekmantel x Patta series - in which limited edition vinyl EPs came packaged with exclusive items of clothing - this digital compilation is something of a lifesaver. For starters, the exclusive material - first included on the hard-to-get EPs, and now showcased here - is pretty darn tasty. The various Amsterdam-based producers involved generally hit the spot, from the melodious, analogue-rich Balearic techno of Young Marco's "The Best I Could Do (With What I Had)", and sparkling Detroit retro-futurism of Mark Du Mosch's "2nd 5ystem", to the cosmic deep house shimmer of Tom Trago's "Brutal Romance", and bizarre, off-kilter deep house-jazz of Makam's "The Struggles". Aardvark's quirky rumba-house workout, "Kubaa Rumbaa" is rather good, too.
Review: Australia's Balance Music is known for its quality mixes by the very finest in the underground music circuit. With previous compilations by the likes of New York's Danny Tenaglia, Deetron and Funk D'Void, among others, this is as close to a Fabric mix as you can get without those shiny tin cases. Ex-minimal legend turned all-out techno queen Magda steps up for number 27 in the series, and it's nothing but vibes on this one. Amalgamating shreds of stripped back techno - Marcel Dettmann, DVS1, Samuli Kemppi - together with newer, more underground sounds from some of the most cutting-edge labels around - Marco Bernardi's Sandman project, TTT's Minor Science, XDB and Shackleton - the Minus legend shows why she's still one of the best in the game and a true expert at evolving her aesthetic. A great mix, dig in.
Review: Will this be the year that Tom Trago finally becomes a household mainstream name? Listening to "The Elite", it sounds like his time is about to come. It sees the Amsterdam-based producer draw on funk, electro and hip-hop and the 'single edit' version is a near-perfect summertime tune, something that has lot to do with the street party samples on the intro and the combination of squalling sax and colourful keyboard flourishes. In its original format, "The Elite" is tailored for DJ usage. The street sounds are still there and the uplifting vibes haven't gone away, but they are underscored by tight electro beats and thumb clicking percussion. Expect to hear it everywhere this summer.
Review: What a line-up. Featuring the likes of Bok Bok, Teki Latex, Helix & Hrdvsion and Surkin & Todd Edwards, this compilation is an essential purchase. From claustrophobic, dead-of-night meanderings to Miami-highway cheesefests and back again, there's no style to pin down here, just a ton of excellent tunes vying for your attention. All the way from dark, insular beats to New Order/Depeche Mode-esque arms-in-the-air whirlwinds (Crystal & Ikonika - thank you), there isn't a time you'll be bored, and that's a guarantee. Get this now.
Review: House DJs MYNC offer an exhaustive overview of the tracks that rocked the long-running White Island venue this summer. In the soulful corner, there's the Maxi Soundsystem take on Boris Dlugosch's "Look Around You". Featuring Roisin Murphy on vocals, it does a lot to sweep away the rainy autumn blues. Ten Walls deliver the trancey goods in the shape of "Gotham", which revolves around a belching bassline, but the most notable aspect of Ibiza 2013 is the way minimal producers have come into the house fold. Loco Dice borrows a prog house bassline for 'Detox' and Luciano's "Rise Of The Angel" - remixed here by Andrea Oliva - is a piano-led, wide eyed deep anthem.
Review: Rush Hour staple Tom Trago serves up a taster for The Light Fantastic, his upcoming third album for the label, with this three track sampler 12" featuring celebrated contemporaries Steffi and Breach. With details on the album still under wraps we are free to focus on the music here and it finds the Voyage Direct boss in fine fettle; this release is meant for the floor without a doubt. Steffi collaboration "Two Together" is a loopy disco jam with hints of her Third Side material, while the dubby "True Friends" seems Breach's vocal build to a crescendo amongst heavily delayed chords. Non LP track "Avenido" contains the most wonderful flurry of handclaps and expertly plonked chimes.
Review: Drafting in the vocal talents of Footprintz and Seth Troxler for a pair of catchy floor-friendly numbers, Subb An makes his first appearance on Visionquest in what seems like an inevitable move after years of graft for the likes of Crosstown Rebels, Spectral Sound and 20:20 Vision. "Rain" is an emotive, floaty variation on electro given a synth-pop twist by Footprintz's Anglophile singing. Alongside Tom Trago, Subb An works a typically whacky turn from Troxler into a simmering house jam full of dubby chord echoes and submerged strings for maximum tension with little release. It's a sturdy release custom built for the modern house music fraternity.