With all the new forms of big room straight beats out there nowadays, EDM has all but forgotten about good old fashioned house, or the fact that pretty much all of what we listen to is a direct descendent of it. Hardstyle, certainly bass house, trance, and even American-spawned breakbeats have their roots in early house music. It might feel to us like relating homo sapiens to Australopithecus Afarensis, but just like the fossilized skeleton of Lucy, house music is still there, reminding us of the not-so-distant past.
Far from a fossil, house music is actually still alive and kicking and enjoying a bit of a revival over the last few years. Disco and soul house especially seem to be making a comeback, with artists like Grapefruit Sound lab and vocal legend Ava Cherry pushing the music along. So, in the case of SofaTramp, a curious bedroom producer from the UK, creating an album inspired by all of house music’s best bits, especially from the 80s and 90s, sounds like a very good idea indeed.
Touting himself as a fan above anything else, SofaTramp really sought to capture the nostalgia of his rave days with his debut album, Wax On.
‘Wax On’ is my 12 month journey through Post-disco, mid-tempo house, Detroit techno, dub, breakbeat, electro, rare groove and soul, downtempo, pirate garage radio, jazz-funk, glitch and elevator… with some sludgy hip hop vibes thrown in for good measure. The slightly skewed kind of stuff that has ebbed into my subconscious over the years after falling asleep with it still ringing in my ears after a night out.
In the album itself, Mr. Tramp makes good on that description, taking the listener through a fun and funky look back at all the beats from the past. Working with a lot of vintage sounds and heavy on the funk, the synths and sound design of each track are melodic and more than a little jazz-influenced. The album floats from the dreamy, 90s chill room vibes of opening tracks “Get Yourself Together” and “It’s So Hard to Reach You” to jazzy all-in house vibes like in “Jacaranda” to the more spiritual, trancy breakbeats of tracks like “M.O.T.U (’20 Mix).”
Getting into the heart of the album, things get a bit more experimental with the hip hop-inspired “Mumble” and the electro-and-freestyle-tinged “Forever Alone.” After that, the real house comes though as the album closes out with “Subroutine,” “Waiting Room” and the night-and-album-ender, “Breakfast in Ikea.”
It’s a fun ride through memory lane on SofaTramp’s couch, with nostalgic pockets of vintage sounds stuffed everywhere, if you lived through it and know where to look. Wax On, when listened to all the way through, can literally conjure up a whole night’s partying in the 90s through its tracks, from “getting yourself together” to go out to ending up eating “Breakfast at IKEA” in the morning. It’s the feelings of this music that are important to SofaTram, and he’s captured them beautifully in his music. It will be interesting to see where he takes his magical setee next.