Album Review: Goliad by kristeva
The first time you realize how enormous Texas is, it tends to give people a second thought about how finite their place in the universe might be. It also inspires a particular type of thought. A desire to achieve greater things and in some ways, escape to those greater things. The post-rock outfit kristeva refer to their last collection of songs as Goliad, a small city in the southern part of the state. Right off of the San Antonio River, the theme of this record might not be predicated on this sentiment of escape as much as the sordid histories of Goliad as a place of turmoil. Yet, it feels like a fitting setting for the ideas put in place on this trio of compositions.
The group operates under non-descript functions for all members involved (past and present). In this anonymity, the eight members credited for performances on Goliad feel more unified than ever. The recordings themselves begin to exist as audio notations of these open-door sessions. The songs exist as travels through vast seas of history and experiences. The relics of the past that could force themselves as anchors and never allowing anyone to move ahead. Instead, kristeva establishes that the blood spilled and the tales of our sordid histories can’t be erased, but they can be read, taught and learned from.
“Set Light” opens with the introduction of glowing hums and rich intertwined instruments that find inventive ways of reinforcing one another. It feels like a moment of anxious energy for times ahead that no one is prepared for. The phrase “set light” is curious in that it is included as a collection of lyrics that are solely growled during the title track of the EP. As God or Allah is beckoned for a desire of light to be delivered, the response to that lyric is “slow motion murders at night.” This prayer signifies a desire to discover peace of mind throughout the storms and turmoil of what just transpired.
Goliad was the site of a massacre during the Texas Revolution as two sides still waged war following the Battle of the Alamo and all bets were off. As General Jose de Urrea found himself victorious and having captured a number of Texian soldiers alive, the powers that be ordered four prisoners of war to be executed in the general’s absence. Undoing his efforts to avoid unnecessary losses of life, it felt like humanity turning to dust. And the patriarchies that each side fought for didn’t seem worth believing in or fighting for any longer.
Walt Whitman even found himself reflecting on this massacre in the 1855 poem”Song Of Myself.” In that poem, he strips the romanticism of everyday life and even portrays the grittier side of war. One could conclude that Whitman might suggest that there is no such thing as victory in war. With that sentiment in mind, “Goliad (Or One Million In An Open Air Prison)” extrapolates the idea that no one was free and the bloodshed was yet another point of undoing for the soldiers involved. There are instances throughout Goliad that feel like reminders of a past where violence wasn’t a direct answer. It isn’t clear if those times are able to be channeled ever again, but the beautiful instrumentals that play out are whimsical tokens of these past lives we wish to return to.
The concluding track is “Rockets For Mary, Pt. 3,” which feels appropriate for how it fits within the musical narrative of kristeva. The first two compositions released from the project were the eponymous first parts in the Rockets For Mary trilogy. As kristeva have transformed as a band and taken a backdrop of a tragic moment in history, they return to a familiar musical home and a sentiment that could be coveted for the soldiers who lose themselves at war. Staring at the skies watching rockets pierce through the spring clouds and hoping for the wonderment to fill our eyes again, we all want to praise Mary with great gestures that make us feel like we can own the skies above. Like the universe can belong to us someday and that universe might be out there for us whenever we can plan our escape.
kristeva are a group that aren’t afraid of escaping genre constraints and much like similar Texan instrumental rockers Explosions In The Sky, the exploration and the fruits of their labors can be found in the music, the songs that inspire them and give them a pulse that inspires their wildest dreams. Goliad is a triumphant collection for the Richmond outfit and one has to wonder just where kristeva will take us all next. One thing is for certain, the clear skies won’t stay that way forever and the precious commodities of the time we can spend dreaming of a future ahead will hopefully be enough to give us the energy to continue moving forward.
Goliad by kristeva is available to listen & purchase now at http://kristevaband.bandcamp.com.