Stephen Gardner's earlier band Lorelei was at the forefront of genre-blending American indie experimentation. The bassist's Lorelei mates went their separate ways after one album and a pocketful of singles. Gardner wasn't so easily dissuaded from the off-beaten path. His enthusiasm and creative spirit were quickly rekindled by the renegade rhythms of English drum-and-bass. Soon after, Gardner's solo Chessie project was born.
Lorelei's latent affinity for dub trappings certainly haunts SIGNAL SERIES, whether manifest in Gardner's ear-tugging basslines, in the tilting, cathedral-like echoes and chimes of "The Last Lie I Ever Told," or in the trick-laden acoustic treatments of "At Grade," "Tourist Union #63," and "Sleep Like a Kitten." But Gardner takes his most provocative cues from the possibilities posed--but often underdeveloped--by such "drone-and-bass" contemporaries as Third Eye Foundation and Boymerang. As the breakbeats rattle and clatter throughout "Clear Block" and the feedback-streaked "Sandpatch," Gardner suffuses Chessie with the hazy, dreamily queasy melodic essence of dreampop. Forsaking hackneyed synth patches for the beguiling timbres of looped accordions, Spanish guitars, sculpted feedback, and trickling ivories, such tracks as the brilliant "Approach Limited" refresh the traditional palette of drum-and-bass and present Gardner as a true American original.