Back with his fifth studio album, Joakim immerses us in a web of dream-like house and techno textures. Tropics of Love pushes into realms of dark isolation and velvet sexuality, creating an album that is by turns ecstatic, nostalgic and melancholic. The LP shares its name with a collection of ink drawings by French artist Camille Henrot, whose images cover the record’s sleeve.
Producer, collaborator, remixer, and head of the Tigersushi label, Joakim Bouaziz has offered up a kaleidoscope of genres with his sprawling discography, but on Tropics of Love his heart is firmly with house music, running the gamut from the late-night, deep stuff to the blippy and electro-flavored. As far as the latter, the key cut here is "This Is My Life," where a computerized voice recounts Joakim's rich and varied upbringing ("In 1991, I was listening to Jimi Hendrix on the school bus" or "In 1998, I was in love with the wrong girl"), but the former is represented by plenty of highlights that are lush and filled with rich, buttery soul. Inspired in part by French artist Camille Henrot, whose artwork graces the album's cover, numbers like "Bring Your Love" intertwine warm melodies with the certain thump of drum machine, although quirks and indie devices put these tracks more in the Toro y Moi camp than Frankie Knuckles.
To New York-based producer Joakim, the Tropics Of Love sound pretty sweet. Like a sugar-soaked pina colada under a palm tree. Or a cotton candy poof on top of a chocolate fudge sundae. His last LP, 2011’s Nothing Gold, featured the same airy beat work, and yet there was something darker about it ….