Sometimes you have to trash convention in order to make music that gets past the buttery crust we’ve all developed after years of being battered by pop music. Unfortunately, a lot of "innovative" music doesn’t really innovate so much as it leaves behind musical conventions that are in place for good reason, like "melody." Rio en Medio’s Frontier, the follow up to Bride of Dynamite, finds itself progressing nowhere.
Danielle Stech-Homsy, the artist behind Rio en Medio, has an obvious proclivity for mixing sparse electronics with glum vocals to produce dark, cloudy tracks. On Bride of Dynamite, this inclination worked to Stech-Homsy’s advantage, making melodically simple and repetitive tracks move. However, on Frontier, it seems like Stech-Homsy decided to place a lot less emphasis on the melody part, and the result is not good. The tracks tend to lose themselves — and the listener, as well.
Frontier does have moments where you don’t quite feel as if you’ve mixed Ambien and too much red wine. "Umbrella" is the song closest to the kind of thing you would’ve found on Bride of Dynamite, and "The Last Child’s Tear" builds interestingly before it gets into the most astoundingly unsettling bit of lyricism on the whole album: "I saw 500 lions waiting to drown here." The album promotes this powerfully negative feeling of slipping down into some shadowy, stale crawlspace, which is some kind of achievement on its own but not a feeling I’ve ever wanted a song to give me.