Tristes Tropiques

Crypto Tropic

French duo Crypto Tropic have a self-titled vinyl EP (LE CABANON RECORDS LECABNON003) of ten tracks of tasty electronica music, providing an entertaining experience in just over 30 mins. The majority of these tunes are trimmed to pop-song length, never lack for lively beats and jaunty rhythms (“polyrhythms” is how they are described here), and are enriched with upbeat electro-melodies which have a slightly mysterious edge.

Crypto Tropic is trying to evoke a “fantastical, solar and ambivalent journey in the midst of an electrical wilderness”, and there is suggestive talk of virtual ruins, caverns, primal forests and other landscapes. I have no hesitation in therefore likening this record to Exotica records of the 1950s, such as recorded by Les Baxter or Martin Denny, where the aim was to spirit away the armchair-bound listener on a musical travelogue often informed by imagined picture-book views of other countries and strange customs. We could also draw comparisons with Roger Roger and Nino Nardini, who collaborated in the 1960s and 1970s to make mood music records for Chappell and other music libraries – albums like Jungle Obsession or Musique Des Iles seem like plausible predecessors.

The knowing pair who created this diversion are Thomas Pujols, who also calls himself Nebulo and made one album as part of UltraaBriight in 2014, specialising in Techno, Ambient, and House; and François Dumeaux, also called Druc Drac, who likes to style himself an “electroacoustic, ambient, noise and psy-trance producer”. The cover art is an ambiguous photograph of tropical vines and leaves (or may equally have been created in someone’s back garden), dotted with little eyes so that some of the leaves look like hooded figures; almost a Residents cover-manque, and given Crypto Tropic’s penchant for off-beat electropop they probably share some common ground with the San Mateo group. My copy also came with a treasure map enabling the owner to find “special objects” with the aid of map grid references. Released 25th May 2015, arrived here 26th June.

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