Tropics’ mastermind Chris Ward might still be one of Britain’s most underrated songwriters right now although every new album seems to move him closer to his own vision of modern soul pop for the 21st century. While 2015’s Rapture already opened up new territory his upcoming third LP Nocturnal Souls takes things even furher away from Tropics‘ electronic roots. One album that really inspired Ward was the soundtrack to the 1971 French movie Mariage Collectif by Jean Pierre Mirouze. The forgotten score is a lucky bag of sounds, ideas and also inspiration, as it seems. And it’s about time to discover this forgotten gem as Chris Ward will now explain in this guest article for NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION.

I remember exactly the first time I bought this one. My very good friend, who’s a filmmaker/film producer and shares a lot of this inspiration with me actually bought it for me but I’d be listening to it online for a long time and wasn’t able to find the original. He got me a nice repress when he came to LA for some work and I hadn’t see him for a long time. Im blessed to have friends who know me in that way and can share something so personal and timeless and know that I would want to own this. I got into the Le mariage collectif soundtrack more via an overall discovery of this world of french new wave movies and soundtracks,which has inspired a lot of recent waves of music, over the past ten years. I was more discovering 70’s italian soundtrack compositions when getting inspired for the Nocturnal Souls LP but couldn’t avoid music in France around the same time, where some amazing things were kicking off. Looking back as I started digging and going to more record stores all over London and then the same in LA to find more of this stuff, it was inevitable that I would come across this sooner or later.

Although I didn’t perhaps make a song on the album which sounds exactly like this. It became a huge catalyst and probably the lead catalyst in a world of records that drove me with a certain palette, mood and textural timelessness to get Nocturnal Souls made for my own discography. Sexopolis might be my favourite tune on it. The summer before last I was at home in LA and I heard the tack from this album by Jean Pierre Mirouze and I put it on the sound system in the lounge. It was one of those moments where you get goosebumps. My brain was just on fire trying to figure out what the sounds were and why it felt so fucking groovy yet, serious yet emotional. It’s led by this hammond or B-12 organ. Not specifically sure on the model and its just saturated and driven so much, played so it sounds like its fucking coming alive. Its a voice and its screaming alongside the coolest loopy drum groove. From 1971! And I thought it was years ahead of its time.

It reached out to me decades later and screamed at me, igniting me with such a love and passion for this lost sound of the past.

I think the album’s sound works on many levels. For those moments where you just want music on in the background which really sets a mood, an aesthetic and a texture sure but also just the beauty of the layers and the emotion whether its from cleverly coloured instruments or voices. It’s wild and plays to a beat of it own drum, still sounding cooler today than ever. Its by no means a chart album and wasn’t back then but I think its genius musicianship and production in a time where people were setting the tone and incredibly inventive. There’s a lot of different albums that inspired Nocturnal Souls and I happily invite you all to check out the following ones:

  • Julius Brockington – Forty Nine Reasons
  • John Cameron – Liquid Sunshine
  • Cortex – Tropeau Bleu
  • Stelvio Ciprianni – Femina Riders
  • Pierro Piccioni – Camille 2000
  • Arawak – Accadde A Bali
  • Hiroyuki Namba – Tropical Exposition
  • Catalyst – New Found Truths
  • The Cyrkle – Neon (I actually ended up sampling She was Here by this band on the intro to my song Velvet)

Nocturnal Souls by Tropics will be released on June 29 via his own label +FOCUS. The soundtrack for Le Mariage Collectif has been reissused by Born Bad Records in 2012 and is available right here.