Tristeza makes beautiful music, despite that people often have more bad things than good to say about them. Critics criticize them for their musical experimentation, calling them new age, or for their lack of a singer, calling them pretentious. I would disagree with most of this. While Tristeza’s music isn’t great for all occasions, there are times and moods that go well with their dreamy, airy guitar loops, wandering synth lines and echoing drums. With all that said, Espuma, a seven song EP, didn’t really live up to what I have come to expect from this band.
The first disappointment I had with this CD was the length. It’s an EP, but I figured seven songs would be enough new music from Tristeza to tide me over until their next full-length. Turns out I was wrong. The first song is really just a small part of the last song, and only two songs are longer than four minutes. Almost all the songs have extended fade-ins and fade-outs. When you take all of that into consideration, there really isn’t much music on this cd at all.
The next problem is that Tristeza has changed its sound, and it isn’t necessarily for the better. The band’s previous two full-lengths — 2000’s Dream Signals in Full Circles and 2002’s Mixed Signals, both released by Tiger Style — were filled with intricate guitar lines played over steady key patterns and combined with a driving yet smooth bass and drum combination. This mid-tempo music was great for relaxing, falling asleep, and as background music.
On Espuma, the band has given up that formula for something else entirely. The first real song, “Glimpse Exposure,” is composed of a short, boring, almost annoying guitar and bass loop played repetitively over some drums that change tempo awkwardly from time to time throughout the song. “Enchanter” and “This Trap” have an entirely different feel than all the other songs. These two have an almost hip-hop feel, with drumming that feels more like jazzy break beats than instrumental rock. The result is somewhat interesting, but nothing to get excited about. Not much else happens in these songs, except for some effects on the drums in “Enchanter” that seem like they belong more on a dub reggae track.
The only redeeming song on this EP is “Living Stains.” It’s a live track (according to the liner notes) that is much more in line with the music that Tristeza has made in the past. Overall, the album is boring and disjointed. It doesn’t flow, and it doesn’t compare to their previous work. It’s good to hear bands change and explore musically, but we all know that the results aren’t always desirable. Espuma is a great example of a good band gone boring.