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There’s no denying the massive weight TRAX Records has in the history of house music—the name conjures up the sights and sounds of a beautifully diverse, extremely creative and hedonistic Chicago dance underground. Founded in 1983, the label was by no means the only one releasing house music when the style exploded onto the mainstream in the 1980s and 1990s, but it remains one of the most influential and pioneering names in the genre, releasing music by greats like Frankie Knuckles, Screamin’ Rachael (TRAX’s co-founder and current president), Jesse Saunders, Marshall Jefferson, and Farley Jackmaster Funk, among others. Keeping up with the label’s cutting-edge and independent spirit, their newest compilation, Now That’s What I Call Trax! Vol. 1, showcases the best of TRAX Records’ releases in the past decade, giving a nod to house music’s roots and steering it towards the future.

The compilation opens with Carmelo Carone’s “Chicago (Original Mix),” a classic four-to-the-floor anthem with sultry vocals that transport you directly to the bump and grind of a lit up dancefloor. Along with Lois Plugged and Fruckie’s “Gotta Have House,” both tracks serve as superb primers to Chicago house history, the latter consisting of a spoken word track underscored by 4/4 beats detailing the spirit and significance of the Warehouse club parties. Now That’s What I Call Trax! Vol.1 also gives due representation to the Latinx influence in the music’s heyday with Ckrono’s proto-dembow, body-slamming track, “Toma.” The compilation also features Screamin’ Rachael’s signature punk howl in standout tracks like “The British Are Coming” and “Spirits Rising,” the latter feeling like a high octane seance—Screamin’ Rachael conjuring the spirits of dance to take us on a magical tour through late-night bliss under the light of a thousand disco balls.

Now That’s What I Call Trax! Vol. 1 is probably the most fun you’ll ever have connecting the dots between house music history and the sights and sounds that inspired (directly or indirectly) all of your current favorite DJs and producers. It’s also one of the most ingenious and inspiring ways for TRAX to reframe current conversations about house music and to, hopefully, reintroduce that raw, rudimentary vibe into current house music production. Now That’s What I Call Trax! Vol.1 reminds electronic music fans of the communities that made house what it is today.

-Amaya Garcia

Bandcamp Daily