Frontier - "Suture"
(Perishable Records 1999, PER008)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
Frontier is a Chicago trio that plays mostly instrumental music exploring both trancey drum 'n bass and more aggressive noise drones. There's actually a good bit of variety on this 30 minute CDEP. The band consists of Kevin Ireland on bass, Michael Tsoulos on drums, and Stephen Wessley on guitar. The music was built using samples from recording sessions, and songwriting credits are given to the recording engineers that the samples were further manipulated by.
The opening tracks, "Autoclave" and "Journal D'un Curé De Campagne", are drum 'n bass instrumentals (though Journal has some sampled voices). "Autoclave" didn't do a lot for me, but Journal is a heavier and more interesting tune in which the drum seems to dominate, and includes lots of intermittent sounds and changes of pace that has more ideas and sense of development.
"Nutley 10" is far more freeform than the previous tracks, exploring the ambient techno cosmos giving us something a little more off-kilter and jarring rather than allowing the listener to settle into any one groove. Definitely more up my alley, and something adventurous spacers into drum 'n bass might like. "Retractor" is like the first two tracks but far more noise aggressive; like a techno-light version of Chrome. Crunchy guitars and freaky synths. Disturbing in parts, but danceable in parts as well.
"Ćther" is a loopy spaced out ambient track with a dark atmosphere. And "Strong City" is the one vocal "song" on the disc. It's a very nice drifting trancey melodic tune that includes still melodic but bashing drone guitars. I was quite surprised and wouldn't mind hearing more of this from Frontier.
In summary, there's some pretty interesting music here and some less than exciting music as well. Frontier has a clear knack for both songs and melodic chaos and I'd love to hear more songs like "Nutley 10" and "Strong City".
Available through Perishable Records.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz