Tropics - Rapture
Self-confessed Peter Gabriel fan Chris Ward uses his Tropics project to explore fragile, yet sweeping soundscapes that should appeal to fans of James Blake and Chet Faker. The Londoner's use of avant-garde percussion and ambient synths is very 2015, yet is characterful enough to stand out from a fairly crowded market.
Opener ‘Blame’ introduces the listener to Ward's delicate and timid vocals. Slow dynamic builds set the scene perfectly for how the rest of the album unfolds as break-beat percussion and faint synth arpeggios colour the mix. The jazz beats of ‘Hunger’ and ‘Indigo’ suggest late nights in a speakeasy. Ward's more ambient side is heard on ‘Kwiat’; heavily reverbed double-tracked vocals sit atop pulsating pads. There's real knowledge of harmony here as different melodies and phrases jostle for position. The title track is the only real up-beat number with a sense of cemented groove - a shame as momentum is lost and the remainder falls flat under a weight of samey ambience. Fans of electronic R&B will find much to appreciate but Rapture fizzles when it should properly burn.