Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tropic of Cancer - Permissions of Love

There seems to have been a huge resurgence of interest in post punk and it's more minimal, electronic cousin over the past few years. This has led to some fantastic reissues (4AD's recent This Mortal Coil remasters) and a clutch of intelligent compilations (two volumes of The Minimal Wave Tapes from Stones Throw and Strange Passion from the always reliable Finders Keepers) - all of which are indispensable listening.

After a recent session delving amongst these dusty old records in my library, I spent a good few days listening to early albums by two of the unsung heroes of the Factory Records catalogue; Section 25 and Crispy Ambulance. I couldn't help think how distinctive and incredibly relevant they sounded after around thirty years.

And so, when I read the first review of Permissions of Love, the first thing that caught my eye was a reference to Section 25. Coincidences like this usually result in some interesting outcomes so I snagged a copy of the EP on the same day.

Tropic of Cancer are Camella Lobo and John Mendez (who also records as Silent Servant) from California and have released a handful of records so far on esteemed imprints such as Downwards and Blackest Ever Black. Back in May they also played live with so much noise favourites Demdike Stare and Vatican Shadow, this is a mightily impressive pedigree for a band with such a short history.

The EP contains three tracks clocking in at around fourteen and a half minutes and is the band's first release on Italy's Mannequin label. From the outset, it's clear that the early Factory aesthetic casts a huge shadow across this record. The drum machine sound has that unmistakable attack of classic period Martin Hannett productions and underpins ghostly synth drones, sparse guitars and beautifully submerged vocals cloaked in an opium haze of reverb. There's also a definite 4AD feel to these tracks too, dripping as they are with the kind of emotionally charged, gothic paeans to love and loss that haunted some of their finest releases.

It can be argued that nothing contained across these tracks is entirely new or original but that doesn't detract from the feelings they instilled in me after an initial spin. Maybe it's partly due to my love for the music that has clearly influenced this set; these were some of my earliest obsessions as a teenager. But then again, maybe it's because this is an incredibly good release from a band who are still building up to their first album and are already clearly operating at the height of their powers.

The digital download version of this EP can be obtained via the Mannequin Records Bandcamp page. Previous releases are also available from a variety of sources, all of which come highly recommended and are well worth tracking down.

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