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Known as much for their consistent touring as their prolific output, San Diego's instrumental rock quintet Tristeza formed in 1997. Guitarists Jimmy LaValle and Christopher Sprague, keyboardist Stephen Swesey, bassist Luis Hermosillo, and drummer Jimmy Lehner came together after playing in bands like the Locust, Crimson Curse, Swing Kids, and Gogogo Airheart, among others, and recorded their debut 7", Foreshadow/Smoke Through Glass, soon after. In promotion of the single, Tristeza toured three times, making the 7" a best-seller and proving that they could pull off their intricate, involved instrumental sound on-stage as well as in the studio.
Tristeza's first full-length, 1999's Spine and Sensory, added subtle jazz elements to their style; just before hitting the road again, they released their volume of the Insound Tour Support series, a series of CD EPs intended to help promote touring indie bands. Another tour and another single -- the Macrame 7" -- confirmed the band's swift musical development and electronic leanings. Tristeza stopped touring just long enough to record Dream Signals in Full Circles in Chicago with the Pulsars' Dave Trumfio; the album was released in the fall of 2000 by Tigerstyle Records.
The group returned in 2002 with Mixed Signals, a collection of Dream Signals remixes. But Swesey departed the same year, and LaValle the next, so Tristeza went on hiatus while they reassembled their lineup. By 2004 Sean Ogilve and Alison Ables had joined on keyboards and guitar, respectively, and Tristeza recorded a double album called A Colores that was issued in November 2005 on Better Looking Records. ~ Heather Phares
- San Diego, CA
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