VipCancro, the “house band” and core of Tuscany’s Lisca Records, cultivate a carefully dark ambience throughout “Tropico,” their third release. The quartet revolves around a buzzing core of electronics to create six moody pieces that hum with the fascination of machines and the ability to produce acoustic and electronic sounds that mimic them.
The untitled numbered tracks here typically stay in a relatively narrow dynamic range, avoiding dips into extreme minimalist quiet and similarly eschewing any sort of grand crescendo. Instead, the quartet opts to tend a dense cauldron of sound, mixing digital and tape drones—possibly looped or preprocessed sounds—with subtle, tasteful percussion and electroacoustic touches to round out the very electronic-sounding pieces. Very rarely, something will boil over in a volume jump or other accent, but on the whole, things are controlled and restrained—not to the point of being fussed over, but perhaps to the detriment of the release as a whole, as not much is allowed to jump out or lead anywhere surprising. The restraint here is sometimes as oppressive as the machinelike timbres.
The folks at Lisca—these same folks—have created a subtle and well-defined aesthetic on this release, with intricate leafed patterns printed onto dark brown, thickly textured paper, and the kinds of small, contained fonts that reflect more than a hint of the taste contained therein. They've shown signs of increasing activity lately both individually and in combos like VipCancro, so here's hoping for more excitement from this pocket of careful enthusiasm. 6/10 -- Travis Bird (11 August, 2010)