“Todd Tobias is a musician and engineer associated with various Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard projects, but lately he’s been carving out a solo career doing more ethereal instrumental material and soundtracks. Tristes Tropiques is a strange, mystical sound painting filled with eerie vocal loops (particularly on the opening and closing tracks), reversed and decaying guitars, and sometimes beats. Definitely has a soundtrack-like feel, especially the way the tracks segue, suggesting changing scenes. The album’s title translate to “sad tropics”, and it definitely conjures up feelings of being blue in paradise, for whatever reason. Sometimes it gets really dark and foggy, other times it’s brighter, with chiming guitars, but it’s still kind of melancholy. All of this is nice and serene.
The album has a companion EP called Moorea, which consists of 7 brief songs which could function as incidental soundtrack music, but as far as I can tell there is no film associated with this music. It has a bit of an exotica feel to it, but it feels like being on a beach late at night on a tropical island, with a vague possibility than the volcano that’s been inactive for centuries might just erupt. “Wing On Wing” and “Vega” are the shortest tracks (only a minute and a half each), they feel most like themes, and I think they’re actually the EP’s best tracks. A nice relaxing (if strangely a bit dark) listen.”