Spine & Sensory

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With so many instrumental bands surfacing in the late 90's, it can be hard to discover a group with an original spin on the whole "post-rock" genre. On casual listen, Tristeza's Spine And Sensory album comes off as thoroughly pleasant, but thoroughly background music nonetheless. Take lightly treated intertwining guitar parts, place over traditional rock rhythms, sit back and enjoy - nothing flashy and nothing that numerous other bands haven't tried since the years After Tortoise. It's only upon further scrutiny that the album reveals its subtle layers of sonic gifts.

Seemingly inspired by any number of notable first-wave instrumentalists (most audibly, Pell Mell), Tristeza is at its best when keeping the pace peppy and not relying solely on repetition to gets its point over. Some of the more ambitious numbers don't vary enough to make an impact, but the band displays a keen ability to serve up highly catchy, guitar-centric melodies on "Memphis Emphasis" and the gorgeous, fluttery "Electrolytes." The San Diego five-piece takes a page from the Tortoise trick book on "Muerte En Tu Sueno," a free-floating detuned guitar line shrouded in reverb, while "The Marionette" offers a less majestic take on Bundy K. Brown's excellent Directions In Music release.

Spine And Sensory does take a few songs to get going, and may not be well-suited to fans of more obtuse instrumentalism. Still, this record has a well-intentioned beauty to it that soothes both the bruised heart and the wandering mind.

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