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New Music: Is Tropical
March 6, 2016
Is Tropical are an English indie and electronic band heralding from the capital, who have emerged from the South London squat scene with an atmospheric electro pop inspired album Black Anything. The LP, due for release on March 20th, is split into instalments, the fourth most recently released in February. After what some would say an unfortunate turn of events, where they had every music video they have ever made taken off the internet, the band set themselves a task: to make an album recorded across five continents – North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and South America. This is evident throughout as every track has pieces of the place it was recorded imprinted on it; it is the sound of a late night somewhere.
On part one, created in North America, singles Crawl and On My Way have typical, cool LA vibes streaming through. Crawl is beat driven and electronic mashed with a grungy buzz-saw guitar riff; you can almost feel the heat of LA coming off this song. On my Way is a more melancholic, ambient piece, reminiscent of fellow Brit band Wolf Alice. Kirstie Fleck’s vocals beautifully blend with the feel of the record. The contrast from one to the next emulates the highs and lows typically associated with the LA lifestyle.
Part two was recorded in Europe, and features Cruise Control and Say. Again they have an ambient vibe; this segment as a whole seems to merge more acoustic elements with manipulated sound effects. Say feels like classic indie – stripped down and showcasing graceful lyrics happily strolling along the track, with softer production. Listening you can’t help but feel you should be sat outside a Parisian café, smoking a cigarette in the afternoon sun.
On part three, inspired by Africa, are Fall and Lights On. This is the most vibrant and multi-layered section of the LP, both are upbeat and synth heavy. Fall is almost anthemic in its deliverance and Lights On seems very obviously influenced by the drum sequences heard in much African music.
The final part, which manifested in Asia, features singles Follow the Sun and Drums. Again with Follow the Sun the vocals are sombre, adding to the nocturnal, sleep-deprived, and warped feel to the tune, heavy once more with synths and drums.
What I find most interesting about this collection is Drums. As the name suggests, the whole composition is almost completely made up of drums, with the strum of a bass guitar here and there and the one phrase, “You’ve got what you want, now stop.” It works really well, creating a great organic sound built from the environment around them; it is crazily infectious.
As a whole this is a great album, proving that a disregard of boundaries both geologically and musically, is interesting and successful . It sounds cliché, but this record transports the listener around the world, and if that was Is Tropical’s aim then they have succeeded.
Words by Lauren E. Hewitt