Recently announced to be supporting Glass Animals on their UK tour is Tropics, the electronic music enigma that is bringing a new approach to a genre that has been, if we’re being honest, heavily saturated. His second album, only recently released, is a showcase of songs that show there is some originality and some meaningful music left to be made in this style, something that makes itself present in the first couple of songs, Blame and Hunger.
However good those two are, it’s the third song, Indigo, that really steals the attention. Initially sounding like there’s been a bit of a mix up on the rhythms before it takes its form, something that was there the entire time without your knowing it. Muted guitars and shuffled drums add in the growing atmosphere of this song, all the while accompanied by the capable singing of Chris Ward.
Perhaps it’s unfair to only consider Tropics as an electronic music act, especially when you hear the title track, a song that sounds more Sebastien Tellier than Tiesto, and when you consider what Ward manages to achieve in his music – rather than let the various technologies do the work for him, you get the impression that he manipulates them to his own mind. It gives songs like Torrents Of Spring a purity, there’s something that sets it apart as a song born of pure creativity that is moulded by a multitude of sounds.
Refreshingly, it’s not all automation on this album – the very backbone and driving force in Home & Consonance is an ever-going drum loop; speaking for myself, there’s something quite spectacular when you see and/or hear live instruments being used to create a sound that is so often left to be done by a piece of software.
Something that can be attributed as a positive trait of Tropics’ music is the personality and the directness that can be lacking often in other songs in this genre. You’re conscientious to the fact that you’re listening to another person making these sounds, rather than being aware of these sounds being man-made. Even with all out soundscapes like House Of Leaves.
Closing the album is a heartfelt song, one that makes you think the singer’s left it all out there for you to take in, called Not Enough. If there were one song to pick that embodied what Tropics is about, I would put this forward – it shows the sincerity in the vocals, the understated skill in the instrumentals, but more than anything it shows that the marriage of the two can work to form something that sounds transcendent at times.
This album is worth a listen, it will interest you and it will make you feel something – it is personal for a genre that has made its name on a lack of personality, at least in the immediate sense of a song. Surely one to keep an eye on for the future, I’ve no doubt that Tropics will only grow to produce more of the same, and long may it continue.