By Noah Salo.
Feves: The Sounds of Tristan Psionic
Sonic Unyon, 1994.
Tristan Psionic was responsible for the creation of the Sonic Unyon Recording Company. Two of the band’s members co-founded the label to release their music and that of their friends. The first Tristan Psionic (and Sonic Unyon) release was the cassette EP Pslop in 1993, followed later that year by their second EP Quicki.
Most of the songs from these cassettes were reprised for their first CD album. This album is called Feves – that means beans. Yeah, I’m confused too. It’s more commonly known by the title The Sounds of Tristan Psionic because that’s what’s written on the front cover – in a snappy retro font to boot.
The sounds of Tristan Psionic (couldn’t resist) are like a time capsule to 90s college radio. Stephen Malkmus inspired vocals? Check! My Bloody Valentine guitar squalls? You bet! Jangly pop songs primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships with members of the opposite sex? You know it. Their influences firmly on their sleeves, the band still manages to have their own unique vision of college indie rock – they still sound influenced, not like copycats.
With nine songs running by in a brisk 32 minutes, the band wastes no time. Opener “Black Psabbath Psong” has a Pavementy intro before busting into a heavy rocker like you-know-who. It humorously ends with drummer Tim Potocic forgetting to stop using the shaker, so the bands chimes in with one last instrumental hit. The band continues on in this vein for the rest of the LP, with contrasting loud and soft moments and messy guitar breaks.
They save the best for last, “Let It Go” features great harmony vocals with bass and drum heavy verses followed by chorus breaks with punk guitars. “Transmission” is a great heavy tune that shows the prog inclinations that would become more prevalent later in the band’s career. It was a modest beginning – but an important one, not just for one band from Hamilton, but for a whole record label and bands from all over.