Legendary Canadian instrumental rockers Fly Pan Am have a new album called Frontera coming out on May 21. However, this is no simple album; it was created in close collaboration with choreographer Dana Gingras and her Montréal-based dance troupe Animals Of Distinction, and is intended as an audio-visual-dance production. Gringas has said:
“When I heard that Fly Pan Am were back together I knew immediately that this is who I wanted for the music for Frontera. The balance they strike between complexity, dynamics and driving rhythm made them one of my favourite bands of the 0s. Plus the always-present tension of self-conscious intellectualism and raw physical power of their project made them ideal partners for scoring for dance. Working with FPA and the dancers together in the studio was never dull. And through this we forged a soundtrack that expands upon FPA’s complex arrangements and infuses the choreography with texture and urgency.”
Some performances of Frontera did take place in early 2020, with Fly Pan Am and Animals of Distinction sharing the stage, but the pandemic soon thwarted dreams of it going around the world.
Now with the studio album of Fly Pan Am’s music on the cusp of release, we are getting some opportunities to see what the totality of Frontera was meant to be, specifically in today’s new video for the opener “Grid / Wall”. Foregrounding the clip, guitarist Roger Tellier-Craig says:
“The band wanted the video to act as a kind of document of the show rather than as an artistic statement on the band’s part since this music was written specifically because of the show, so it was therefore important for us to put it in that context. The artistic statement here is Frontera itself, and “Grid / Wall” is simply one of its constituents.”
And bassist Jean-Sébastien Truchy adds:
“The music for Grid / Wall, like the rest of the record, was created in reaction to the choreography and the moving light structures that make up the space in which Frontera exists. Our main goal was to support the various physical, mental and emotional states experienced and portrayed by the dancers in reaction to these ever changing borders.”
With all that in mind, you might think you’re prepared for “Grid / Wall”, but imagining it and seeing are different things. Even in the clip, the synchronicity between the dancers’ kineticism and the band’s monolithic sounds is breathtaking – we can only imagine how powerful it is in the flesh. Take a look below at the video, which was filmed and edited by Huot & Vallentin.