Dream Signals In Full Circles
By: Eric G.
Finally, an instrumental rock band that doesn’t sound like fourth generation Slint. Tristeza opts for more esoteric soundscapes than the recent crop of boring instrumental bands all clamoring for a piece of Chicago’s prog-rock pie. The music builds subtly with beautiful guitar work and distant, emotive keyboards. The rhythm section underscores the shimmering guitars with light, almost jazzy rhythms, avoiding the trappings of most instrumental cliches. What’s so surprising is that it’s not boring. All the instruments seem to meld together as one as though there aren’t any egos at stake.
Tristeza is a quintet from San Diego, and its brand of dreamy, escapist rock on its second album is a welcome alternative to the self-indulgence of most instrumental post-rock. Each song ebbs and flows with delicately plucked chords that intertwine flawlessly. The band never loses its pop sensibility, which keeps the music from nose-diving into a self-congratulatory wank-fest. There is the added pressure to entertain for a rock band that chooses not to incorporate vocals into its sound, especially when the music is deliberately contemplative, but Tristeza translates more emotion through its guitars than most bands do with their vocals, anyway.
It’s such a relief to hear a band that realizes it’s not enough just to veer off into obscure musical tangents and jam under the guise of ‘experimentation’ at the expense of the listener. Tristeza understands the confines of the instrumental rock genre and aims to pull you into its iridescent dreamworld without subjecting you to extraneous showmanship or surface level tricks. The result is often hypnotic and serene. “Building Peaks” is an affecting opener as it shuffles with a languid air, representing the direction of the rest of the album. The heavily affected guitar tones are inextricably bound in chiming arpeggios. Tristeza’s versatility is undeniable, and the musicianship is nothing short of amazing.
Every song on Dream Signals In Full Circles casts a similar pall on itself, but there’s always something sparkling and hopeful way off in the distance. This is an engrossing and fulfilling album, placing Tristeza firmly at the top of the instrumental game.