A common tactic connects acts as diverse as Tortoise, Brise-Glace, Flying Saucer Attack, Main, Jesus and Mary Chain, and This Heat: take a massive, merciless beat--bass and drums in hard pursuit of groove--then superimpose sheets of electronic noise, be it fuzzed, phased, or flanged. Chicago's new foursome Frontier makes a full-fledged methodology of this technique. Drummer Michael Tsoulos worships at dub reggae's snare-drum shrine, whacking with a reverence reminiscent of On-U skinsman Style Scott but retaining a mean rock punch; meanwhile bassist Kevin Ireland sets down a rubbery bottom end. Guitarists Nate Bayless and Stephen Wessley cast nets of fizzling, distorted, reverbed sound, peppered with little peeping loops and other assorted whizbangs--all without the aid of keyboards. These sonic clouds metamorphose slowly, droning and ringing and providing segues when the rhythm section's patterns abruptly change, signaling each new tune with a time shift. Frontier's swank debut, Live at the Empty Bottle 7.23.96, is just out on Tug O War (run by Bottle chief Bruce Finkelman), and it lets the group's concert music, recorded intact one summer eve, speak for itself. The group's performances are noteworthy synaesthetic events, with strobe lights and smoke abetting the noise haze. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nancy Laskowski.