NAMING your music project after Henry Miller’s famously controversial classic of American literature might suggest a grab for the kind of provocative territory which Miller’s book once occupied. Yet as time has passed, Tropic of Cancer has become a comfortable and non-controversial fixture of outsider bookcases.
Summerhall, Edinburgh ****
Tropic of Cancer is the solo project of Californian singer and producer Camella Lobo and, much like Miller’s book, it is familiar but stimulating, comfortable yet infused with a prickly hint of danger. At Summerhall, she and fellow keyboard player Taylor Burch produced a sound akin to a slowed-down, shoegaze-infused Kraftwerk, a style worthy of their place on pioneering contemporary electronic label Blackest Ever Black.
Their electronic beats were austere and minimal, with the analogue enhancement of Burch’s occasional guitar and Lobo’s singing voice rolling amid the waves of noise. Above them, soft-focus faces blurred on the screen, building a perfectly dreamlike aesthetic to match the otherworldliness of the sound. From the moody, gliding arc of Stop Suffering to the frosty electro-punk of the closing More Again, they formed a firm axis between the lush, mature dream-pop of Cocteau Twins and the noisy sonic hypnosis of My Bloody Valentine. For old-timers wondering where the spirit of goth has gone, it could be found here in new and sensuously dramatic form.