Step Across the Border (soundtrack)

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Step Across the Border
FredFrith AlbumCover StepAcrossBorder (1990).jpg
Soundtrack album by Fred Frith
Released 1990 (1990)
Recorded 1979–1989
Genre Avant-rock
Length 73:31
Label RecRec (Switzerland)
Producer Fred Frith
Fred Frith chronology
The Top of His Head
Step Across the Border

Step Across the Border is a soundtrack double album by English guitarist, composer and improvisor Fred Frith, of the 1990 avant-garde documentary film on Frith, Step Across the Border. The album features music from the film performed by Frith and other musicians, and covers ten years of Frith's musical career.


Step Across the Border is more than a just a soundtrack. It includes additional tracks, for example, "Drum Factory" and "Candy Machine", that were written for the album by Frith from ambient sounds in the film. Discussing the album, Frith said:[1]

The album also includes live music as performed in the film, for example "Houston St"; tracks from other albums that accompany scenes in the film, for example "Too Much Too Little"; and tracks from other albums that replace live covers of those tracks performed in the film, for example "Legs".


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]

In a review for AllMusic, Rick Anderson described Step Across the Border as a "excellent overview" of Frith's work.[2] He said the music on the album ranges from "tuneful and charming to stark and forbidding", and was particularly pleased with the material from Massacre's (then out-of-print) first album. Anderson rated Step Across the Border "highly recommended".[2]

Reviewing the album in Leonardo, Stefaan Van Ryssen noted that Step Across the Border is more than a soundtrack: Frith "creates a narrative structure that parallels and complements the [film]".[3] Van Ryssen said this narrative structure is the album's strength, but also its weakness. He described the tracks as "nice but anecdotal patches" that "lack scope and meaning in [themselves]" until they are "stitched together by an invisible ... thread" to build a story.[3] But the listener is not given the means to easily recreate the story, which Van Ryssen felt, may make it difficult to fully appreciate the music.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Fred Frith except where stated.

Side A
1."Sparrow Song"1:28
2."Voice of America (part 3)" (Frith, Bob Ostertag) / "Legs" (Frith, Bill Laswell, Fred Maher)4:24
3."Selluloid Restaurant" / "The Old Man Puts Out the Fire"3:09
4."After Dinner" (Haco)1:47
5."Houston St" (Frith, John Zorn)2:54
6."Drum Factory"2:01
7."Regardless of Rain" (Frith, Tom Cora)3:05
Side B
8."Candy Machine"2:59
9."Romanisches Café"6:19
10."The Border" (Frith, Anne Hemenway)3:29
11."Nirvana Again"1:53
12."Scottish Roppongi"1:46
Side C
13."Norrgården Nyvla"2:58
14."Birds" (Frith, Tim Hodgkinson)2:18
15."The As Usual Dance Towards the Other Flight to What is Not (part 3)"1:47
16."Williamsburg Bridge"1:53
17."Same Old Me" / "Williamsburg Bridge (reprise)"4:10
18."The As Usual Dance Towards the Other Flight to What is Not (part 5)"2:24
19."Lost and Found"3:21
Side D
20."Nine by Nine" (Frith, Eitetsu Hayashi)5:52
22."Union Square"1:41
23."Morning Song" (Iva Bittová, Pavel Fajt, Pitinsky)2:00
24."Voice of America (part 4)" (Frith, Ostertag)2:02
25."Too Much Too Little" (Frith, Tina Curran)2:08
26."Too Late"2:23


The numbers below indicate the tracks on which the musicians played.

Recording details[edit]

  • Tracks 1, 10 – recorded by Tim Hodgkinson at Sunrise, Kirchberg, Switzerland, December 1985
  • Tracks 2a, 24 – recorded live at PASS, New York City, January 1981
  • Track 2b – recorded by Martin Bisi at OAO Studio, New York, June 1981
  • Tracks 3a, 4 – recorded by Yasushi Utsunomiyaat at MUE Studio, Osaka, Japan, February 1988
  • Tracks 2a, 3b, 6, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17b, 18, 22, 24, 26 – recorded by Rainer Carben at Bavaria TV Studios in Munich, Germany, December 1989
  • Tracks 5, 7 – recorded live at The Kitchen, New York City, February 1989
  • Tracks 9, 12 – recorded live at the Romanisches Café, Tokyo, Japan, February 1988
  • Track 11 – recorded live in rehearsal at Roulette, New York City, February 1988
  • Track 13 – recorded at Chickenhouse, Uppsala, Sweden and Sunrise, Kirchberg, Switzerland, July 1979
  • Tracks 14, 20, 22 – recorded live at ROX, Tokyo, Japan, February 1988
  • Track 14 – recorded at Hodgkinson's home in Yorkshire and Brixton, England, December 1988
  • Tracks 17a, 21, 25 – recorded in Frith's apartment in New York City, August 1983
  • Track 19 – recorded by Rudolf Oleschko in Provence, France and Paosostraße, Munich, Germany, July 1989
  • Tracks 23 – recorded at a hotel room, Bern, Switzerland March 1989

Tracks from other albums[edit]

CD reissues[edit]


  1. ^ Wolff, Sander R. "Defining The Edge: The Musical World Of Fred Frith". The Long Beach Union Newspaper. Retrieved 27 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, Rick. "Step Across the Border". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Van Ryssen, Stefaan (2004). "Step Across the Border by Fred Frith". Leonardo. 37 (3): 252–253 – via Project MUSE. (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]