After some delay due to factory issues, the vinyl version of Popup Cinema finally was delivered unto us a couple of weeks ago. Chris Ward, or Tropics, really packs a punch with these three original tracks and his chosen remix of the title track by IDM producer Kelpe. If you’re not familiar with Tropics’ previous work, I highly advise you to check out Parodia Flare which I will link in Spotify below. (Be sure to check out Nautical Clamor and his two other EPs as well!) “Popup Cinema” opens up with a nostalgically patched synthesizer playing sparse chords, with a cymbal pulse from a drum machine accompanying. For the first time, we get to hear Mr. Ward’s voice without any effects obscuring it, and it’s quite staggering to hear with all the curtains pulled back. Ward’s vocal style packs a soulful sting that is the perfect accompaniment to this chilled out opening track. The second track, “Invitation,” shows off Ward’s primo production prowess, with a tapestry of hasty samples and various instruments coming in and out of the picture which, overall, create a song that’s just irresistible to dance to. On the third track, “Ophelia,” we get to hear Ward’s unveiled vocal work once more, with his delightfully English accent bleeding in, accompanying frenzied synthesizer riffs to create a track that is just made for a nightclub. In Kelpe’s remix of “Popup Cinema,” he crafts a subdued version of the song, chopping up Ward’s vocals to use for sampling, but it still retains its danceability. Check out the EP below. If you buy it online you get two free badges as well from the label, Svetlana Industries! Also, if you happen to be fortunate enough to be attending SXSW next month, Ward says he will have copies of the EP with him there as well.

The Details

Tropics a.k.a. Chris Ward first appeared on Planet Mu last year, following up two EPs with the album Parodia Flare. Commended by Pitchfork for his lush soundscapes and hazy pop, what’s clear with Tropics is that he listens to a lot of dance music and he cares about production values. The synth and beat programming is as competent as anything out there, and he avoids lazy indie stylings and one button Bontempi organ beats –his are crafted songs, much of the pleasure lying in his gift for dynamic arrangement, which is a joy amid rafts of “useful” formulaically assembled house tracks.

In common with the general post-financial collapse vibe there is less sunshine in this EP than before, and he’s absorbed something from a year of intensive house music listening, but Chris’s essential qualities remain a forward-looking wistfulness, hope beneath melancholy, something even more acutely needed now than before. Oh look! Here comes winter.

Price $10.68

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