Most songs you hear have a sense of forward motion. The song progresses from first verse to chorus to second verse to chorus to bridge and then back to chorus. It’s that pattern that can make a song catchy and memorable, the verse getting a point across and the chorus reinforcing it in a hummable, ear-friendly way. And then there’s a band like Tristeza, whose songs don’t really go but are content to sit there and unfold before you like a sort of musical spirograph run through a heavy Gaussian blur.
Various words like “psychedelic” and “post-rock” could probably be thrown about to describe Tristeza’s music. And all would be accurate to a point. Tristeza’s music is certainly hypnotic and dreamy, but it’s far too focused to really be called “psychedelic.” And to me, “post-rock” always conjures up images of music that, while fascinating, has a mathematical, engineered feel to it. Tristeza’s music sounds like a bunch of indie-rockers who wanted to mellow out, but still remain emotional and sensitive.
And keep in mind that “mellow” is the operative word here. Don’t be surprised if your heartbeat slows down, your eyelids start to droop, and your body starts to lose its fight against gravity halfway through the album. Songs like “City Of The Future” and “Chiaroscuro” are more suited for late night listening than for anything else, preferably with the only light coming from the display on your stereo. Even on the album’s most aggressive moments, like “I Am The Cheetah,” the music still spreads like ripples across the surface of a still pond.
Guitar melodies weave in and out of eachother like they were made of finely-spun glass. Buried about 5 layers in the mix is the bass, whose only purpose seems to be keeping as much of the song as possible from floating away. But what completes Tristeza’s effect are the keyboards, even though they’re probably the least noticeable element of Tristeza’s music. Understated, they float off somewhere in the distance, occasionally poking through the notes like rays of sunshine peering down into the depths of a deep green sea.
Dream Signals in Full Circles is one of those rare cases where you can call a record repetitive and mean it as a compliment. All of the songs sound the same, with the same guitar tones and basic structure, but for Tristeza’s brand of mood-altering “rock,” it works quite nicely. If the music gets too predictable, just think of it as a hypnotist’s countdown. The end result would be the same.