February 03, 2002

Tristeza "Mixed Signals"

Ah, the remix record. It's the insider's joke of the industry. In order to fully appreciate a remix album, it's best to know something about the person being remixed, and it doesn't hurt to know something about the remixers. Some might see the remix album as some form of expressive art, to highlight both artist and mixer. It's a point that, while fuzzy, does seem to hold true, especially when you have an artist who takes the song far, far away from its original version, beyond the point of recognition. Of course, if you don't know the original version, then you're kind of at a loss when it comes to appreciating the remix.

Mixed Signals is no exception. While the idea of Tristeza being remixed seems a bit daft, (not as daft as the horrid Owl:Low Low remix album) it certainly provides an interesting gauntlet for the remixer. How do you speed up an ambient group? Do you add beats? Do you put in noise? Do you throw in samples, perhaps a disco diva? Do you make the kids dance, or think? How can you improve on a sound that's already slightly perfect?

I will now plead ignorance. I'm not familiar with most of the guest remixers, save for Windy and Carl, Simon Raymonde, and Sientific American. These three mixes all certainly show the hands that remixed them. Sientific American throws a nice electronic beat into "Shifty Drifty," making it dance hall fodder for robots. Windy and Carl, opiate-style droners, have their way with "Opiate Slopes," and make a continual drone. Simon Raymonde adds beats and a nice bass line to "Are We People," leaving you to wonder about when Liz Fraser will start singing.

Not all of the remixes work, though. ::lackluster:: provides a mix of "Respira" that certainly lives up to their name. The Snodgrass' take on "City of the Future" is also rather dull and flat as well. Though these two remixes are rather uninteresting, they certainly don't steal anything away from the rest of the album. Overall, Mixed Signals is a charm of a record, a mellow journey into electronic space, and a pleasant diversion while the band readies its next full-length album.

--Joseph Kyle

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