Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Structurally, the way all of us are put together is strikingly similar. The differences are never enough to truly trip upon, compared to the basic foundation, the floorboards and the plumbing and circuitry. The automatic life functions can't vary, hair typically appears in the same places on everyone, bodies fold out into the same forms like inflatable mattresses, grabbing its space the way they were designed and taught to. Looking for a lung or a tibia and the game Operation makes it perfectly clear that there are obvious and uniform places to explore for that first and likely last incision. Masses identify with masses for the safety in it.
There are reasons - mostly internal ones - that will always mean that passing by a roadside memorial, one signifying the place along the shoulder where a tragic automobile accident claimed a life of a family member or friend, will make one think about another such spot featuring tattered wooden crosses and faded, synthetic flower bouquets that you pass regularly. There's that one by the mile markers 49 and 48, near the big recreational lake - you remember the details of that one and you (always) silently mull how you would handle a similar situation should the tragic breaks go the opposite way.
There's a reason - this circuitry that is on the blotter - that once you've become a parent, the scene at the end of Forrest Gump when Tom Hanks stands at Jenny's gravesite speaking about Little Forrest, "And he's just so smart Jenny," will absolutely murder you, make you run like a faucet. There's a reason that, played loud enough and in the right situation, the song "Amazing Grace" will trigger the same response whether you're ready for it or not.
The New Frontiers, if reading this little insignificant essay, are perhaps nodding right now, suddenly starting to understand how this all pertains to what they do, seeing as how this little insignificant essay is supposed to be about them. The Dallas, Texas-based band doesn't get easily weepy or randomly choke up during movie viewings, as it stands, though it wouldn't be such a bizarre reaction at all and there's nothing wrong with it if they do. It's deeper than that, cutting more to the molecular/DNA level, where folks search the well and where they try to reach in order to fix themselves when such a need is necessary. Nathan ???? doesn't court simple feelings of love and loss, but rather the advanced notions of love's loss and death's witless perplexities wherever they happen to take him. Before he knows it, like a sleepwalker, he's back in his dark room, developing all of these snapshots that he never knew he'd taken, becoming sharper and focused before his bewildered eyes.
A part of him and the rest of the Frontiers must find themselves a bit flummoxed by the terrible, pulling weight that accompanies breaking the code or partially breaking the code of an age-old dilemma - what to do with ourselves when life gets greedy, when it takes and takes, but still leaves little, glorious mints upon our pillows to act as aloe and salves. The band's Mending is an affair that takes quiet truths and findings seriously and with every ounce of wonderment they can muster. A state so massive - the one where the people you love can be the ones you keep when the lights pull out the hook from the side of the stage, when the connective tissue is stronger and shakier than a stampede of elephants - is where time stands still. You look around at the people around you in this long-lined holding state, and you see them - oddly enough -- with all of your belongings in their hands, wearing some of the things that you'd thought you'd left in your closets at home. Listening carefully, you'll hear exhalations synchronized all across the room, all across the open prairie and the heavy steps of many are falling in line behind you.