Red Light Records
South of North - Netherlands, 2021
You could think of the collection of tracks here as a library record of sorts, and each track inhabits its own universe. Tropical fits various moods and situations, and it could soundtrack any number of activities at home or on a dancefloor - whether real, imaginary, or hallucinated. Strangely enough, it sounds like it could have been constructed from obscure Italian library breaks, when instead every instrument has been played and panned, several times over, across magnetic tape.
The genesis of many of these tracks began when CV Vision moved to Berlin in 2014. His flat had a small chamber where he could fit a drum set, so he treated the walls with foam, and in true DIY style, dived headfirst into recording these tracks. It was the natural next step on an audio adventure that first began when CV Vision picked up the guitar in his teens, and a couple years later started recording with friends in his home town of Bayreuth. Fast forward ten years and here is his debut - a culmination of practising chops and learning instruments, mastering recording techniques and fine-tuning the CV Vision sound.
It’s a sound that condenses elements of acid rock, psych soul, library funk and new wave oddities into a movie soundtrack for your mind. It’s a journey from ‘60s west coast LSD-drenched excursions to ‘80s synth and post-punk mutations. Tropical is a plunge into another time, another music you can simply swim around in and explore.
Side A opens up with Tropical Tune In , which rides in on a clave and a warm wind, blowing a distinctly herbal aroma and recalling exotica dons like Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Following on with the aural equivalent of a sea breeze through your mind, Spaziergang am Meer blows away the cobwebs and conjures some nice library moments like Stringtronics or F eelings . Next, Ba_c_k(Lava) bounces out of a cold wave post-punk melting pot and crashes through the speakers like a blazed Zebedee, with some sweet eastern synths for added flavour, before the rolling bass licks of Der Böse Schamane take us into another dimension, landing somewhere between a psych rock freak out and a Black Ark dub session. Mr Maze channels the arpeggiators of synth outsiders like Mort Garson and Bruce Haack, creating a glorious interlock of robotic electronics and freakbeat vocals. The side comes to a close with the guitars of Der Strand (außer Rand und Band) letting loose like syrupy springs, and setting a languid mood like the bedroom scene in Bedazzled (1967 version).
Side B kicks off with Parallel Universum, which comes through like a woozy krautrock workout, all ducking synths with big chord shifts to create an epic deranged beehive of a soundtrack. Im Land der Ameisen evokes the spirit if not the sound of White Rabbit, when logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, before waking up and wandering through the side alleys of Marrakech with the West Coast Pop Art Ensemble and the Electric Prunes, as Ritual (No. 4) blares out the speakers of passing tuk tuks. Ein Wasserfall plumbs the deep synth depths, like Raymond Scott in scuba gear, modular rack strapped to his back delivering oxygen as he swims between connector cables and seaweed forests through a watery underworld. Banana King sounds like a lost soundtrack to Donkey Kong or Mario Cart, if the cart radio was tuned into a synth documentary hosted by James Pants, while Das Kloster am Berg takes the baton from Brenda Ray and her Naffi cohorts, all dubbed-out niceness and post punk swagger. The LP closes out with Tropical Drop Out, a dreamscape rather than a wake up call, coaxing you deeper into the trek across the desert of your mind.
And that’s Tropical in its essence: capsules from another time, snapshots of another sound, messages from another mind - all in the service of inducing the visions in your head.