Tristeza: Mixed Signals (Tiger Style Records)

Source: Delusions of Adequacy
Date: March 25th, 2002
Author: Jeff

File Under: IDM/electronic beats and bleeps
RIYL: Tristeza (marginally), Album Leaf

Remixes are often a mixed (if you'll excuse the expression) bag. On the one hand, you've got to figure the original should be good enough to stand on its own, and if it could be improved, no one but the original band should do it. On the other hand, you've got all these electronic artists with tons of machinery at their fingertips, just itching to put their own trademark flare on original creations. And you have to wonder, why aren't they creating their own original works?

To be honest, I've never really seen the point of a remix. For the most part, a remix just takes a perfectly good song and turns it into an electronic/ambient piece. Sometimes, you can barely recognize the original - and while that clearly demonstrates the most unique touch of the remixer, it leaves you wondering why the original was needed at all. Often with a remix you just get lengthy, repetitive compositions of high-speed beats, obnoxious electronic bleeps, and endless repetition of the elements of the original song the remixer deemed "neat."

On Mixed Signals, 11 musicians/bands take tracks from Tristeza's 2000 release, Dream Signals in Full Circles, and turn them into electronic and IDM affairs. It's an interesting project, for while Tristeza's soothing instrumental music has a kind of blissful atmosphere, the band hasn't really delved into electronics themselves - aside from guitarist Jimmy Lavalle's Album Leaf side project. Gone are the lovely, flowing guitar melodies and soothing effects, and taking their place are loads of beats and electronic bleeps and bloops.

There's a few tracks worth pointing out on this release, even if they do tend to mostly run together. Randomnumber's remix of "Building Peaks" has some nice, IDM-style flow to it, with a kind of atmosphere of the original, although Verbose's remix of the same song is better. Diagram of Suburban Choas' "I Am a Cheeta" is far too ambient for me, but Scientific American's cool version of "Shifty Drifty" uses some neat, up-tempo beats and assorted sounds to give it a poppy feel. Some tape samples give The Snodgrass' remix of "City of the Future" a moody kind of feel. Windy & Carl's ultra-lush take on "Opiate Slopes," an already lush song, just serves to give it a thicker, dreamier atmosphere. The Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde closes with a mix of "Are We People" that has a very futuristic sound. Raymonde doesn't lay on any new beats but instead works with what the band had, which is a nice touch.

For the most part, this album serves as a curio, an intriguing take on a band that a lot of people really enjoy but hardly necessary. In fact, it's likely that many Tristeza fans will be turned off by these remixes that sound virtually nothing like the soothing tracks from Dream Signals. Fans of Album Leaf and more electronic and experimental works, however, will likely enjoy this release for the curiosity factor more than for any works of deep meaning and weight.

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