Thomas Jack abandons the balmy beach for the darkened club with ‘The Versus’ [EP Review]
Gone are the days of tropical house’s supremacy..
Though the blithely sedate genre is certainly far from dead, its most important progenitors seem to have moved on since the peak it reached between 2014 and 2015. Though Kygo hasn’t entirely strayed away from the pan flute-laden sound which launched his career, his most recent releases have centered more on straightforward pop than tropical tones.
Meanwhile, Thomas Jack has veered in the opposite direction.
Once considered the Australian counterpart to Norway’s tropical superstar, Jack’s productions in the past year have trended toward chilling deep and progressive house (in the sub-genres’ proper forms, rather than their more commercialized bastardizations). His shift should come as no surprise, either.
In a 2015 interview with Dancing Astronaut, the artist announced his intention to depart from the confines of tropical house, asserting that he “never tried to push the genre, it just happened.” Expressing his love for house music, and desire for a legacy based upon his own, unique musical inspirations, he stated, “I want Thomas Jack to be something special. Not Mr. Tropical.”
In the aforementioned feature, Jack foreshadowed his stylistic transition with a telling anecdote:
“I walked out of a seven hour Dixon show and it literally changed my life. What he gave to me, I want to deliver to others. But I want to do it in my own unique way.”
Today, July 21, Thomas Jack has delivered on his goal from two years ago with the release of his new EP, The Versus. Though the two-track record arrives via Pete Tong’s FFRR imprint, its balearic percussion, mystifying synthesis, and brooding, techno-inspired bass lines would be right at home on Dixon’s Innervisions.
As its title suggests, the EP is collaborative. The Versus sees Jack reinvent tracks from electronica trio The Acid and its singer, RY X. In the EP’s opener, “Shortline,” the producer gives new life to RY X’s haunting croons with a moody, mellifluous composition. Jack’s take on the song further clarifies his new direction, at times recalling the Australian vocalist’s work as a member of Howling, with Frank Wiedemann of Âme.
The producer rounds out the record by transforming The Acid’s “Basic Instinct” from an essence of subdued minimalism into a transcendent, yet harrowing piece that echoes rivals the mesmerizing capacities of Solomun and Adriatique.
Two years ago, Thomas Jack pounded his fists on the table while sitting across from our former editor, Valerie Lee. With conviction, he proclaimed:
“Maybe in a year, or three years, we’ll sit back down here at this table and be like, ‘WE FUCKING DID IT!’”
And, if they reprised their meeting today, he’d be able to do so with full integrity.
Featured image by Neil Favila.