One need only listen to the first two tracks off Parodia Flare to realize that Chris Ward, the sole musician behind Tropics, named his act so for a reason. “Navajo,” the first of the two, fades in unsuspectingly with shifting waves of digital haze and bubbling synths, reminiscent of dramatic guitar riffs and a woman’s moans, evoking either a laid-back afternoon vacationing at Miami Beach or drifting in a canoe on the river Amazon, surrounded by a humid, teeming rainforest (take your pick). At just over one minute long, the track feels like an elongated rush, ambient and drenched in atmosphere as it is.
Tropics mastermind Chris Ward is a voracious and accomplished student of sound. Parodia Flare is the British twentysomething's full-length debut as Tropics, and it's made of compellingly lush and languid bits of sonic material culled from a vast array of sources, including touchstones as disparate as synth-pop, Balearic, Britpop, dubstep, African guitar-pop, and goth. Ward demonstrates an impressive sensitivity in picking out elements of these genres and styles that can be pieced together in ways that are texturally satisfying and often beautiful.
When Tropics first debuted on Planet Mu with the Soft Vision EP, the project seemed like an agreeable if unremarkable take on '80s baiting chillwave. Maybe not the most distinctive music ever, but it worked well with the label's recent summery narrative strand. Fast forward to Parodia Flare, Chris Ward's debut album, and he's turned from bedroom synth enthusiast to one-man-band.
A smeared glow of echoes, with an intimate understanding of accidental melodies. Brad Barrett 2011 For a way of making music that has often been seen as cold, inhuman and impersonal, there have been a few great examples of touching, personal electronica albums. The most poignant, in this writer's mind, is Baths' Cerulean. The warmth and honesty generated by that set of samples, beats and vocals is inspirational.