ABOVE (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT): DOMINIC APA, KIRSTIE FLECK, SIMON MILNER, AND GARY BARBER. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARLOS LANG.
Without hesitation, London-based band IS TROPICAL begins singing about death and a deep blue sky in their single “Crawl.” The lyrics may sound startling at first, but after consideration they reveal a deeper story, one of a Mongolian ritual performed in the northern steppe. When paired with an eclectic mixture of world instruments like the thumb piano and kalimba, as well as modern standards like modular synths and a thumping bass line, however, the song nearly masks itself underneath an upbeat melody. Here, we are pleased to premiere the video for “Crawl,” which emphasizes the single’s inherent darkness.
“We wanted the music video to be dark and almost have a club basement feel,” Simon Milner, the guitarist of the band, says. “We aimed to have a heavy grade and strong style, kind of like an old VHS from Africa.”
Although they’re based in Western Europe, IS TROPCIAL has not only toured, but also recorded music around the world–from Ghana to China, Morocco to Mongolia, as well as throughout Europe and North America. The four-piece reflects their travels in the video for “Crawl” by adding subtitles in more than 10 languages. Additionally, lyrics such as “One day, you’ll be replaced/That deep blue sky will be your home in time,” reflect the ritual they witnessed, where Northern Mongolians presented animals to the sky, made incisions in their chests, stopping their hearts, and prayed to “Munkh Khkh Tengri,” or The Eternal Blue Sky.
“Music works well as a language for us to communicate with around the world,” Milner continues. “The same song can be interpreted many ways–lyrics can be misheard or rewritten by the listener. Sadness can bring joy and vice versa. Music has taken us further than we ever imagined it would. “
In 2009, when the original band of Milner, Gary Barber, and Dominic Apa formed, the then trio released their debut single via Hit Club Records, but soon thereafter signed to French label Kitsuné, where they recorded two full-length studio albums. Recently, IS TROPCIAL made two more changes: the addition of Kirstie Fleck to the band’s members and signing to the Brooklyn-based independent label Axis Mundi. Next year, look out for the release of their third album, Black Anything, via their new label.