The San Diego post-hardcore/kosmiche band Tristeza released the Mania Phase 12” on Gravity Records in 2002. Previously, I had seen the band perform, and owned their second LP, the snoozy Dream Signals in Full Circle, (Tiger Style, 2001), but from the first listen, it was clear that Mania Phase was their most exciting work to date. While their previous records had utilized repetition as a numbing agent, causing listeners to feel simultaneously tired and edgy, the music on this EP grooved in a constantly shifting, dreamy pulse.
On the record, the musicians display a mastery over digital delay, and lock in on dub-motorik grooves that feel like a more punk, more American Stereolab. The recording, by Matt Anderson (the proprietor of the ultimate I Hear A New World inspiration Gravity Records, (who, continue to stock this record and many of their other classics)), is sympathetic and clearly live.
Gravity released a VHS tape around the same time as Mania Phase that featured Tristeza playing “Stop Grass” live in a garage somewhere, (presumably San Diego). Before I understood the intricacies of recording, I was under the impression that this video was filmed during the sessions that actually yielded Mania Phase, but upon recent re-viewing, it has become clear that it’s either from a separate session, or the EP version has some extra post-production tricks tacked on, like the classy dub effects on the snare drum. The film features a subtle overlaying of ocean footage in a way that updates the Gravity Records aesthetic from mid-90’s emotional-aggression to mid-00’s placidity.
(Mid-90’s emotional-aggression as embodied by Matt Anderson’s artwork for the second 7” from his excellent punk band Heroin)
(Tristeza performing “Some Grass” for a Gravity Records VHS tape):
The videotape also featured an excellent performance of the song “notes from the underground” from the first Rapture 12”, also released on Gravity Records:
I mean: shit, right? Raw as hell. The Rapture seems to be an incredibly elastic band: if Matt Anderson wants to bring out their punk sensibilities, they’re there; when James Murphy plays them Liquid Liquid, Chic & Giorgio Moroder records, they respond accordingly; and when Danger Mouse wants them to play like dulled-down would-be hitmakers, they sign on the dotted line. I do hold out hope for The Rapture, as I’m sure they’ve lost their contract and therefore have had ample time to look in the razor-ed Mirror to remember what made them so powerful prior to releasing a song called “Whoo, Yeah, Alright, Uh Huh!”. May I be the first to submit the above video as evidence? I also recommend their single, Chair That Squeaks (a 7” I purchased in 1998 simply because of the clear vinyl); portions of their Sub Pop 12” Out Of The Races…; and their major label debut Echoes.
Anyway, I was talking about Tristeza, not those other guys. Here’s a good example of how great the Mania Phase EP is:
Tristeza - auxilo maté by ihearanewworld