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Andrew Heath and Mi Cosa de Resistance - Café Tristesse

Review

Café Tristesse by Andrew Heath and Mi Cosa de Resistance

Minimising distraction for deeper contemplation

In 2016, with a history of guitar playing stretching back to the early nineties (in the Burt Reynols Ensamble, ÜL and Viva La Muerte) Argentinian musician Fernando Perales abandoned his six string companion as he embarked on a new line of enquiry as Mi Cosa de Resistance*. Instead, by recycling fragments of long-lost vinyl samples, looping them into gentle progressions atop beds of hiss and crackle, he made Lo-fi Ambient odes not unlike the more experimental side of The Caretaker. Guitar sounds remained a recurring element in his music though, either as samples or, notably, in collaborations with guitarists like Anne Chris Bakker. When the pandemic hit, Perales picked up his guitar again with a renewed enthusiasm, focusing on tone and colour to express emotion through his music; a goal perfectly captured in The 'Montecarlo Swingers Association Ambient Tapes', with its wonky guitar oration surrounded by a background chatter of crackly vinyl hiss.

His collaborator on Café Tristesse is English artist Andrew Heath, who, with a discography outnumbering even Perales' extensive array of releases, primarily plays piano "to explore my obsession for processing found sounds and field recordings and then setting them against quiet piano phrases and lower case electronics". The element of 'process' clearly informs the 'Heath sound', whether that's the result of long distance tape-swaps with like-minded artists or the desire to produce music devoid of extraneous distraction, like on last year's Fold when he declared his goal of "more minimal arrangements using sparse piano and guitar balanced with soft electronics and field recordings". To my ears, Heath's music has consistently presented a minimal, soothing balm, so aiming to reduce his arrangements further simply demonstrates his hardcore values.

While Café Tristesse isn't their first time working together (check the inventive boundaries set on A Speechless Body – also with Ciro Berenguer, Pepo Galán and Hymns57 – or Dispatches with Anne Chris Bakker) it is their first joint album. And, as with many of his own releases, Heath produced the artwork, a sepia photograph, processed and treated with the same respect as his music, both setting listener expectations and bolstering an already flourishing brand.

With Perales on guitar and Heath on piano the sense of 'minimal' Heath strives for thrives. Background texture is kept to a minimum with only occasional rainy tape hiss providing balance to the shimmering main instruments. Perales' wonky guitar is gone, replaced with smoother, poignant hand-picked notes that linger like dampered piano notes. Their alternating contributions and how they marry are clearly a result of their improvisational approach but the sense of space they create leaves plenty of room for introspection and contemplation. And if more substance is required, the track titles hint at a deeper narrative (e.g. The Absentee, Dorian Grey).

* fun fact: the name Mi Cosa de Resistance (My Thing the Resistance) comes from an episode of The Simpsons where Homer became an avant-garde artist. At the opening night of his exhibition he says something like 'and here My thing De Resistance'.

If you only listen to one track

A Place in the Shadows

Label

Audiobulb

Release date

16 Mar 2024

Tracklist

  1. The Dreamers
  2. Spaghetti Western
  3. A Letter to No One
  4. My Favourite Window
  5. A Place in the Shadows
  6. The Absentee
  7. The Night Waiter
  8. Until we meet again
  9. Dorian Grey
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