Tristán B. is a pseudonym of Antonio Rodríguez, a Mexican synth pop musician who has also released some material under the monikers of Teatro Marfil and Tonio Kröger (please have a look at the Bandcamps of both projects). With this Shanzhai, he has already released two references for the Russian independent label Other Voices Records, the first one being the limited cassette Porcelain, already sold out. In Tristán B.’s music, we can find influences coming straight from the 80s but also from the synthwave revival that have brought us so many good moments. Shanzhai is a Chinese term that means mountain fortress or village and that, nowadays, is used to describe imitation or counterfeit products. That’s the name that the Mexican musician has chosen to name this 5-tracks-and-a-short-intro EP. You can buy the digital version and also a very limited 50 cassette edition here.
The EP starts with a short piece with a funny name: “Skid Add” that in less than a minute manages to bring us to that imperfect past where Leyland Kirby has his reign. As soon as the synths arrive, they teletransport us with “Nobody”, in what looks like just a long whisper, to the most melancholic days of the 80s, or maybe the melancholy is caused because we are not anymore in that decade that today seems so full of color and innocence. We liked the touch brought by the phone call, that gives realness and closeness. The oriental influence, already advanced in the title, can be heard in “Phantom”, another ode to sadness with a sound that could remind you of New Order. “Shanzhai” is a bit happier and, according to us, shares atmosphere with the music of the fantastic bands of Sarah Records, but here, more the music is clearly more synth-ridden. In”Timeless”, we loved the sound of the insistent synths that manages to create something that we can only name “epic melancholy”. Without any doubt, the best song of the group. The EP comes to an end with “Sorrow”, a short and sad instrumental track.
Lately, we have heard a lot of bands that try to take us back to the eighties but not so many trips have been as interesting as the one proposed by Tristán B.