DC-based experimental artist Tristan Welch makes music that, as he describes it, “creates heavy ambient movements via heavy minimalism.” His involvement with Verses Records and Code Red,—its anti-Trump ACLU benefit–brought him to our attention last month; and his latest collaboration with DC area brass-master Ron Oshima, God Bless America, proves him to be an act worth keeping a close eye on.
God Bless America is definitely minimal in sound–featuring a guitar and a saxophone, and recorded live at The Brink recording studio in the DC suburbs. But as is the case with so much experimental music, its simplicity is deceiving, belying a multilayered effort in thought, composition, and application.
The EP features three tracks: God, Bless, and America, and each one has a “strong focus” on its respective key (G, B, A). The album, recorded on election day, also has a strong political message. Welch’s work on Code Red showed he wasn’t afraid to recognize his work as an act of resistance, and God Bless America is no exception.
“The concept behind God Bless America is actually pretty simple,” according to the duo. “We are not nationalist and we could all use a little help.”
Oshima is a Berklee-educated musician who’s been playing flute and sax in the DC area for more than two decades. His work here is free-form and avant garde, a surprising but potent fit with Welch’s ambient guitar soundscapes.
Welch’s work acts as a stark, dystopian foundation to Oshima’s film noir delivery, painting a picture of America as the damsel in distress, or perhaps the femme fatale. It’s hard to know these days just what’s going in America’s head; we just know she’s in trouble.