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Tom Trago/Bok Bok – Night Voyage Tool Kit review

The new Crossover Series from the Sound Pellegrino crew makes for a canny and eye opening endeavour, offering like-minded producers from different paths the chance to collaborate together with the aim of “crossing the invisible bridges of the great house music archipelago”. The standard for the series is set truly high on the inaugural release that sees Alex Bok Bok Sushon team up with Tom Trago for the Night Voyage Tool Kit EP.

If you’d paid keen attention to recent interviews with either the Night Slugs founder or the Rush Hour regular, you might have noted subtle whispers of mutual appreciation – something that was clearly not lost on Sound Pellegrino figurehead Teki Latex, who approached the two to open proceedings on the Crossover Series. In broader terms, this project is just one aspect of a growing bond between the emergent powers of the UK underground and the Dutch standard bearers. (Blawan and Untold surfacing soon on Clone and Dexter indulging in some Bristol loving sounds for the recent Great Northern Driver 12″ are further examples for those who require them.)

Musically, Night Voyage Tool Kit is the result of a four day recording session at Trago’s studio in East Amsterdam earlier this summer, with the help of a Sequential Drumtraks 400 analogue drum machine newly gleaned from the aforementioned Dexter. The six tracks see Trago and Sushon deliver heavily, stripped down drum trax informed by a love of Dancemania era Chicago House. At times the results are playful; see the opening track “Pathfinder” – little more than the duo checking out how pliable the rubbery analogue tone at the core is, with drums stripped down to a hissing undercurrent. More structure is evident on the skeletal “White Type R”, which slowly unfurls into compressed head jack material, though that playful sense of melody creeps through intermittently.

The midway point here is perhaps the release’s strong point, with both “Vector” and Pom Clash” heavily pressurised club workouts. The former contains some brilliant usage of space, dropping into just the birdlike sonic swivels before a wave of percussion takes hold. The latter is even more thrilling, utilising the sort of Funky rhythms that Bok Bok knows all too well and marrying them with vocal stabs that veer the scale of dementia as the track bumps along.

As the EP progresses, the overarching feeling you get from this release is two producers becoming increasingly comfortable working together – see how the vocoder led “Time Master” unexpectedly bursts into a percolating 23rd century p-funk out. It’s obviously just the start of much more from the duo, with Trago revealing the duo will continue their Night Voyage endeavours in some shape or form.

Tony Poland