Tristan Zaba has been playing music since he was young. He released his debut CD in 2012. Last year, he released In The Round with some musicians in Calgary.
I first saw Zaba playing with experimental band XIE (pronounced Shay-E) last year. They are all students from the U of M School of Music, and they played live music to films at the Manitoba Hydro building, 360 Portage Ave. I saw them again this year at WSO’s New Music Festival.
They are an interesting combo. I was impressed that these young musicians were into this kind of music.
Zaba recently gave me In The Round which he called prog rock. A little different from the XIE music. I’ve played it a few times and I quite like what I heard. Brings back memories of the ’70’s prog rock bands. The only difference is that I didn’t have to get up to flip the record. I was able to go on the ‘trippy’ journey without interruption.
In true progressive rock style, it’s a concept album and should be listened to in one sitting. The journey begins with the character Morgan humbly encouraging the listener to open the mind up, over top of a fuzztone bass and a nice Atomic Rooster kind of keyboard sound.
In the next song, Nothing, Morgan is still making profound statements, but Zaba’s guitar solos start making a bigger statement as the mood and tone of the CD gets heavier.
There Doesn’t Need To Be A Reason segues nicely into track 4, Breath, with the use of a glockenspiel which seems to tone down the intensity that was building.
Breath is an instrumental track with a bit of a Pressurehed or Anubian Lights vibe to it. Had this been a vinyl record, it would be a perfect place to flip the album over.
An acoustic guitar, a flute and a lonely saxophone winds it’s way throughout The Thinker Pt. 1, which is reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Gentle Giant. Amidst other instrumentation, there is also some nice piano parts in the song.
In The Watchman, Morgan’s fears are becoming a little more intense with an Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull inspired flute and more acoustic guitar.
Emerson Lake and Palmer type keyboards fuel Losing My Mind where it seems like our main character is in too deep to come back.
The Thinker Pt. 2 rounds off In The Round with some interesting recording techniques as well as writing that appears to blend the whole CD together in a cacophony. The use of violin and cello creates the mood of suspense and drama as the song builds to a climax. It seems the thoughts in Morgan’s head are swirling around as he tries to make sense of everything in his conscious and subconscious mind. Is this the end for Morgan or is it the beginning of another journey? As I listened to the CD in my car, track 8 seamlessly blended into track 1 as the CD started over again.
Tristan Zaba co-produced the album and played guitar, bass, keyboards, flute and glockenspiel.
The young up and coming musician, who will be on guitar and vocals for tonight’s show, has a new lineup for ZABA which consists of fellow U of M music students Nicolas Pura on bass and Bryson Debroni on drums and vocals.
ZABA will be performing tonight at 72 Princess Street with M & M Meats and The Unbelievable Bargains. Doors at 9:30 p.m., show at 10 p.m.
For more info on ZABA go to tristanzaba.com
All photos by Doug Kretchmer except as noted