Frontier - Suture

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Perishable Ltd
Catalog Number: PER008CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 30:48:00

From Perishable Ltd, comes this techno-house-ambient EP by Frontier entitled Suture. Frontier are a 3-piece based in Chicago, IL, "exploring and testing the balance of rhythm, trance, chaos and noise." Or so the press blurb says - believe it, because I'm not sure how else to describe it except to say that it is an assortment of sounds, "sutured" together to form a whole, a very weird whole. It's so hard to say whether this is good or bad. The parts work well together, but how much is synthesized and how much is real is hard to say. Even where sounds work against each other, the combination isn't irritating, agitating. In other words, it didn't make hit the skip or stop button becasue I couldn't take the cacophony. This has been distilled into a cohesive whole.

The opening track, "Autoclava" is full of vibrating sound, percussion, drums and an odd assortment of subtle sounds. And track 2, "Journal D'un Curé De Campagne" begins with a sound bite from Bill Clinton, the intro to a speech he made. But this track then becomes a percussion led track, where bulbous sounds are spaced throughtout, with, again an assortment of keyboard sounds.

"Nutley 10" changes the pattern at the beginning, being a drone piece, with sounds crunching, squelching, and phasing in and out of the mix - imagine the effects sound track to a Star Trek episode, including a Tribble nestled beside your ear, purring. The middle section is more rhythmic squelching (made me think of the cash register intro to Pink Floyd's "Money" actually. Very, very weird. Very very interesting.

"Retractor" is ominous - heavy percussion, dark, angular, razor sharp guitar(-like?) tones, with a deep bass humming and moaning. This raw piece is almost soundtrack material - the incidental music for a chase scene in a Matrix-like movie. Dangerous.

"Aether" is the sound a lumbering metallic creature (I thought of ELP's Tarkus album cover) would make. Percussive, wet bass notes slowly building as the thing gets closer and closer, looming larger and larger. You are but an ant to this behemoth. And as the music mellows out to long, low, sustained notes and keyboard atmospherics (the beast is purring) realize this Goliath is benevolent. The ending part of this track evokes feelings of sympathy.

"Strong City" is a different beast (ah-hem) all together, being a Porcupine Tree like vocal track. No word on who the vocalist is, but his sound bears resemblance to Steven Wilson. Though it might be my system, the mix puts the vocals just a tad back in the mix. Now, admittedly it might also be fore effect, matching the voice to the instruments - hard to say.

The tone on this album is very wet, what with those squelches and all. Sounds bubble like agitated lava. Too much activity for this to be merely ambient background music, and yet not quite active enough to be truly dance music.

The story behind this disk, according to the liner notes, is that all the source materials was recorded by Frontier with Brain Deck at Clava (who also has a credit on Him's Sworn Eyes). Then Tim Hurley, Casey Rice (known as Resigned - appropriately enough credited with "Journal"), and John David Hiler took the parts and, (yeh, I'm gonna say it again) "sutured" them together. However, Frontier are Kevin Ireland, Michael Tsoulous and Stephen Wessley. The only track credited to Frontier is "Strong City," with John David Hiler having a mixing credit.

So, what do I think. I think it's weird, but I like it. This is a precursor, it appears, to a full 10 track album - and what I gather from the press blurb, it'll be vinyl (um, an LP) - for club play, I presume. This EP is intriquing enough that I'm gonna recommend it to you.

Autoclave (5:59) / Journal D'Un Cur? De Campagne (5:24) / Nutley 10 (7:19) / Retractor (4:09) / Aether (4:28) / Strong City (3:29)

Kevin Ireland
Michael Tsoulous
Stephen Wessley

Frontier (1995)
Live At Empty Bottle 7.23.96 (1996)
Heater (1997)
Suture (ep) (1999)

Genre: Experimental

Origin US

Added: October 11th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1519
Language: english


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