When musicians indulge their passion for genres outside their usual remit with side projects, the premise usually perks curiosity, but the results can be variable. The thing about Mr and Mrs Silent Servant's Tropic of Cancer, though, is that they don't let go of what made the main project (his main project, rather) good in the first place.
Although The Sorrow Of Two Blooms is, like their two previous records, groaning, sombre post-punk, this categorization still seems to be a product of circumstance—the music they've simply been immersed in for their lives. And as with Silent Servant and Sandwell District, it's about an aesthetic, primarily; it just happens to be the style it is. This isn't an accident: John Mendez has previously declared his motive to create art rather than audio engineering, and Sorrow stands as a piece. Vocals are reverberated into indecipherability, ascetic and rigid programmed drums lay underneath, and washes of a slightly more electronic, clinical and thin version of Kevin Shields' guitar layovers surround it all. You could probably count the number of actual notes that are used in the backing tracks on one hand—"A Color" simply rises, falls, rises, falls; then ends. There's no place to get to, we're just held in thrall.
Those already fond of this area of the musical lexicon—post-punk, industrial and their cousins—that are also inclined to read articles on this website may well be smitten. Conversely, for a lot of fans of Mendez's techno, this just won't be their thing. At least, not at first. But Sorrow might, on repeat listens, link in with their usual territory, opening a gateway to an appreciation for this era, and offering an insight into the way it continues to influence modern electronic music.
Buy Tropic of Cancer - The Sorrow of Two Blooms at
Tracklist: Tropic of Cancer - The Sorrow of Two Blooms A A Color
B1 Temporal Vessels
B2 Dive (Wheel of the Law)
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