An intense spate of personal turmoil led Tristan Welch to Buddhism. In 2020 and 2021, the veteran musician was navigating a recovery from addiction and going through a painful divorce. He found solace in two things: Buddhist teachings and creating music.
With his new solo project, Sutras, Tristan brings these two interests together, crafting gripping instrumental compositions that ripple with emotional catharsis and bridge the gap between post-rock and ambient. Heavily influenced by the widescreen sensibilities of post-rock staples like Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Bowery Electric, the artist aims to create music that brings the peace he’s found to anyone who takes a listen.
“I’ve found refuge in the teachings of Buddha and shelter in Bhakti,” Tristan explains. “I feel at peace when art is a gift and nothing more. I’ve created Sutras to help myself and others refrain from the attachment that creates our suffering.”
With Sutras, Tristan embraces these contradictions in full. He muses that he’s playing a kind of ambient-punk hybrid: “If you boiled down the songs and took away the effects, they would just be hardcore songs, just super slowed down.”
If these build-ups are imbued with a sense of catharsis, that’s by design. For Tristan, creating these tracks provided much-needed solace while he was mired in his divorce and other agonies. He recorded the entire EP on his laptop in his basement, performing and producing everything himself in eight-hour stints, with little more than his guitar, pedal board, and a drum machine for accompaniment. “It’s just the one chance I get to process everything,” he reflects. “To sit and just be with myself. It’s really almost like therapy.”
The resulting EP, along with “A Lotus Like Mouth,” represents a sonic breakthrough for Tristan as he incorporates drums into his ambient work for the first time. He was inspired to give it a try after hearing a podcast about musically inclined monks at a temple in France. “They’re very humble. Just the idea that their fingers can create the sound just amazes them. It’s just like, ‘Oh my God, my body can do this!’” Tristan recalls. “When I was doing this EP, I wanted to have that kind of thought, too. I bought a drum machine. I tapped it. I was like, Oh, it does that! Instead of being like, ‘I need it to sound exactly like this post-rock record I love,’ I was like, Well, just play with it. Just engage the process.
Fortuitously, this zen-styled creative approach has complemented Tristan’s burgeoning Buddhist practice. “I’m letting go of my thought,” he says. “Letting go of my plans. Letting go of expectation. I’m just letting go of all of that. What happens happens and that’s what’s gonna be beautiful or not.
“Under the Sutras moniker, Welch embarks on a radical departure from Requiem. While Dāna leans heavy on post-rock staple acts such as the Bowery Electric and Labradford, Welch unveils an subtle splendour that imbues the kind of hope and freedom perhaps influences by his findings in Buddhism.” – Sun-13
“Rosa Lila Dance is a beautiful instrumental track that unfolds and carries the listener on a mesmerizing voyage, mirroring the complete journey offered by the entire release.” – Darkenin Heart
“four songs that draw inspiration from Buddhist teachings and showcase the artist’s experimental prowess in producing unique and distinctive sounds.” – Destroy//Exist