Tuesday, 17 June 2014

''A U R O R A'' Ben Frost - A Review

Australian composer and avant-garde musician Ben Frost has found underground success on Icelandic label Bedroom Community over the past decade while releasing film soundtracks on the side, but on A U R O R A Frost is leaving his strings and orchestral arrangements aside for a trippy electronic experiment that is never straightforward.

Things kick off with ''Flex'', an unsettling, rising beat that leads into the dangerously intense soundscape of ''Nolan'', a track of hypnotic ferocity that threatens to melt your brain before it thankfully cools into a somewhat smoother outro. From there comes the contrasting ''Teeth'', a hissed, near silent track that feels necessary after the burnout your mind will still be experience from the previous 7 minute storm of the second track, but Frost doesn't stay quiet for long as ''Secant'' reveals itself to be another acid inspired freak out which somehow blurs the line between bliss and terror in a manner that needs to be heard to be believed.

On the album's most relatively conventional note and best moment, ''Venter'' starts slowly before building on it's light percussion by carefully lacing church bells together with the kind of feedback sound that seems to permeate the entire record, before the track descends into what could only be described as music you would imagine a species from another planet may dance to. Taken as a whole, ''Venter'' demonstrates the greatest balance of all Frost's surreal instrumentation with standard conventions and showcases how effective the artist can be when meshing his style with traditional music rather than trying to make our eardrums bleed (see ''Nolan'' and ''Secant'', tracks so heavy that they share a greater relationship with thrash metal than any kind of dance form).

Further on the track list, ''No Sorrowing'' is another example of less is more with a single synth dominating the track, and while ''Sola Fide'' is similarly all consuming to earlier instances of heavy electronica, it's a more pleasant, somewhat lighter experience than the others. Continuing the mild outro, at least by Frost's standards, is closer ''A Single Point Of Blinding Light'' which comes off sounding like a laser show but in a warm, almost playful ending.

On your completion of A U R O R A you should be suitably exhausted by the mind altering nature of these 9 highly intense tracks, but whether the mind numbing quality of these 40 minutes is a positive or negative element depends entirely on your own interpretation. If you want an experience akin to a horror film or hallucinogenic drug then strap in and lose yourself to Ben Frost, but for the music fan more concerned with melody and emotion rather than effect, Frost's extremities can seem provocative rather than purposeful.


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