After LPs for Planet Mu and Innovative Leisure, the latest full-length from Chris Ward’s Tropics project drops via Plus Fours. Nocturnal Souls is an accomplished neo-soul album in the vein of his mates BADBADNOTGOOD - indeed, the celebrated jazz group crop up as backing band here. Ward’s fine songwriting style incorporates elements of the French New Wave, cosmic jazz, chillwave and even a little 'Reckoner'-era Radiohead. He’s got a great set of pipes on him too.
Staff note from Clinton:
It's summer and I want to sip something. Apart from not being wet this is near perfect. It could be seen as too wine bar for some but I think it sounds gorgeous. Think of a more laid back Metronomy full of aching melodies, melancholic soulful jazz style playing and gorgeous harmonies and you could be close. Music for things fluttering in the breeze outside bars Summer 18.
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Nocturnal Souls will be the last record released by Chris Ward under the umbrella of Tropics. Very sad.
Each track on the record sounds beautifully poetic and well written. Ward himself has described how this record is intended to draw together his time in LA with his background in the UK, and to realign himself with the music that he wants to produce rather than the music he is expected to. Track one and two are written in the classic quirky pop-jazz style that Tropics is known for, where as track three is much more mellow and experimental. Track four is a real chill-wave affair that draws on his soul-like vocals and jazz inspired writing style. Both relaxing and refreshing. It's worth mentioning here that if you're a fan of BADBADNOTGOOD you'll almost definitely be a fan of this Tropics record. They both occupy the ground of eerie and often dark music to create a sublime atmosphere.
Half way through the record you'll hear 'Velvet' and yes, as the name suggests, the music is rather like velvet. From here is really where the record will turn your brain to mush. There are some folks out there who will refer to Tropics as a kind of psychedelic-jazz, and you'll find it hard to argue with that once you hit track six. Ward creates a soothing and head bobbing jam through the use of percussion, flute, guitars, keyboard and electronic sounds all layered together using a soft swing beat. Be careful not to operate machinery when listening to this one . . . and I mean that in the best way possible.
The latter part of the record is, again, soothing, beautiful and jazz-mazing. I am finding it quite hard to pick a fault with it. It's a super good collection of tracks and I'm very impressed with it.
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