Author, artist and all-around creative, Tom Rasmussen has become a staple name in the LGBTQ+ community. Having just returned from a lengthy tour across the UK with Self Esteem, they’ve released their debut album Body Building via Globe Town Records – and it’s as euphoric as their live show.
Our first introduction to the album was last March, when Tom released the lead single, ‘Fantasy Island Obsession’. Featuring model and poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, the snappily pared back dance track centres around the theme of escape – from ourselves, the world and a society that puts those from the queer and trans community in closer proximity to danger. Though we imagine a world where LGBTQ+ people everywhere can live their lives in full, it’s sadly not always the case and the stomping dance track ‘Street Violence’ – featuring fashion design and performer Michèle Lamy – sees Tom tackle the day to day struggles and societal portrayal of those that are gender non-conforming.
Tom certainly has a talent for crafting single worthy tracks and has released an array of them in the last twelve months, including ‘Fabulous Opera’ and ‘Dysphoria’ – both of which are drowning in punching beats and catchy vocal lines. Potentially the most infectious chorus on the album lies in its closing track, ‘Look at Me’. A live favourite, the piano house-infused track is a celebration of self acceptance and freedom.
In spoken interludes between tracks, Tom has enlisted notable voices from the trans community to speak about presentation and power, hope, vulnerability and threat – including Travis Alabanza, and Shon Faye. Serving as the perfect companions to Tom’s music, the interludes are moving declarations which both celebrate – and complicate – ideas of radical self acceptance and empowerment. The manner in which each interlude so delicately transforms into the track that follows it not only highlights the level of care that’s gone into every aspect of the album, but presents us with a true moment of beauty.
Writer, editor and journalist, Shon Faye takes the lead in the interlude titled ‘Glass’, which gracefully leads into Tom’s moving cover of Arthur Russell’s ‘This is How We Walk on the Moon‘ – showcasing that it’s not just floor-filler pop that Tom exceeds in creating and their tracks of a more downtempo nature shine just as brightly. Preceded by the empowering interlude ‘Stomp’ – featuring Travis Alabanza – the gorgeous ‘Dial 9’ is another track that takes things down a notch, boasting some of Tom’s most reflective lyrics over a sparse soundscape.
Envisioned by Tom as an exploration of violence in three acts – escapism, reality and revenge – Body Building is a representation of trans joy, queer love, and defiance. Though a perfect slice of dance pop, Body Building doesn’t confine itself to one genre and from electro to pop, Tom’s experimentation and versatility sees them continually dive into the unknown – and it’s totally enchanting.