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Tom Trago – Iris review

If Tom Trago’s debut album, Voyage Direct, was an impressive exercise in developing a signature style, then this sophomore set has clearly been designed to show the sheer scale of the Dutchman’s growing ambition. Where that album was sharply focused in its promotion of a thick, floor-friendly sound that neatly fused synth-heavy disco with rock-solid European deep house, Iris takes a far broader musical approach. It’s almost as if Trago is setting out his stall: he’s not just a simple disco/house fusionist, but a musical alchemist with more strings to his bow than a twelve-string player with an impressive collection of lutes, mandarins and sitars. It may be a tortured metaphor, but it has a ring of truth.

The 15 tracks that make up Iris include forays into noughties hip-house (Tyree Cooper collaboration “What You Do”), crisp, late night electro-funk (“Suckers For Fools”, with Olivier Day Soul), ambient soundscapes (“Soon In A Cinema”), rush-inducing Joy Orbison-ish future garage (“Joys Of Choice”) and, curiously, hooky, radio-friendly pop-house. Of course, there are some typical Trago moments (“Scent Of Heaven”, the Dam Funk-does-deep house vibes of “Space Balloon”), but these are sandwiched between a kaleidoscopic array of rainbow-tinted songs and collaborations (Romanthony, Meikbar and San Proper also feature). In the wrong hands it could have been a misjudged mess, but it’s nothing of the sort. If anything, Iris feels like an impressive step on a much longer a journey; a very good album, yes, but merely a taster for future Trago full-lengths that will no doubt eclipse this. Think of it as a calling card from a producer still on the rise.

Matt Anniss