On The Record: Frontierer "Orange Mathematics"
Doing it yourself is cool. Not only that, in 2017 it’s the right way to do it. Technology has opened the floodgates. The music industry is in flux. Total chaos. It is anyones for the taking. Frontierer are turning that chaos into success on their own terms. Like this now sold out, limited edition orange vinyl of their debut record.
Chaos is a marvellous segway into the sound of this record. It is an aural assault. It’s dense and textured production continuously pummels your senses for the duration of the entire record. There is no let-up. There are dynamics here though. Well..., a dynamic. That dynamic being: this next bit is going to be even more abrasive than the last bit. Surprise!
That this record sounds this good, as well as refreshingly raw and organic, when it is self-produced and recorded in what I understand to be essentially a bedroom is insane. When you add to that the two protagonists in the band don’t even live on the same continent, it's even more remarkable.
This album is in open and defiant opposition to the idea that challenging music and accessible music can’t be the same thing. This doesn’t sound like a pop record, but the repetition, the groove, the tightly concise arrangements, the shout-along refrains and hulking, mechanical riffs incite instinctive movement in the totally organic way that the best pop music does.
By which I mean: it's pretty catchy.
It’s also important to mention that the stark lyrical content, delivered with a grim poetic flare, is a perfect emotional foil to the musical backdrop on this album. The vocal performance itself is remarkably brutal, incredibly consistent and so satisfyingly caustic that it puts most other extreme vocalists to shame.
It’s the additional textures added through these exciting vocal arrangements, quirky wah effects and a taste for sudden, stuttering and exhilarating changes of pace that give Frontierer an unmistakable, fully formed sonic identity.
Speaking of identity, the visual aesthetic of this record is stunning. Full credit to designer Mitchell Gillies whose artwork and design is quite frankly staggering. This LP looks beautiful. The attention to detail is remarkable. It’s a visual presence that is as bold and distinct as the music, and it genuinely enhances the listening experience when you have the packaging as a companion to the songs. The rich blacks being an excellent foil to the wonderfully obnoxious orange and clearly communicating the lyrics in a way that does their blunt ferocity total justice.
If more bands, particularly heavy bands, were willing to trust artists as skilled and diligent Gillies, then artwork, branding and all the visual communications of a band wouldn’t seem as trite, contrived and hopelessly boring an afterthought as they so often appear. This LP is of the highest quality, sounds incredible, looks amazing, it stands out in your collection...this is how bands should be marketing their physical products in 2017: as something you take pride in owning.
Downsides to this record? The crediting of the musicians as “synthetics” and “organics” has an unwelcome habit of forcing my mind back to the incredibly distasteful MySpace days when bands with more interest in their internet presence than their song-writing would credit their singers as “throat” and other tediously monotonous cutesy gimmicks. That possibly says more about the way I identify with bands than it does anything about the quality of the music though.
The only other criticism I can genuinely lay at this record is that its sheer intensity can make it a really challenging listen. Albums that are as dense and abrasive as this take effort to listen to and that kind of considered effort means that it can take a long time to dig into these tracks and fully appreciate the craftsmanship of them. Truthfully, I’m still trying to get to grips with some of these songs.
And it is a shame, or at least a potential shame, that the unrelenting intensity of this record could dampen the more sophisticated impact of the depth in song-writing on display here by simply being so in your face. Because the passion put into these songs, and the unbelievable quality of them, deserves that sort of in-depth attention.
All that being said, this is so sick. I don’t have words.