2 January 2017
Ben Frost - The Wasp Factory (Pitchfork Review)
"Its music is shockingly beautiful"
Pitchfork review Ben's new record 'The Wasp Factory'
You can read the article here.
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What the press says
One of his boldest projects thus far, Frost’s score and concept for the opera is both ambitious and grand in its design. The writing is often sparse and wide, yet simultaneously focussed and intense.
He combines post-minimal finesse with modernist severity and Wagnerian daring, charging into the deepest abysses of quiet and storming up the fieriest peaks of noise.
...charismatic and cocky… V A R I A N T’s greatest strength is its palpable character.
Have we learned much from this exercise about the music of Ben Frost? I think so. Sure, it’s not obvious remix material due to its already fragmented sound world that borders on the edge of decay itself. But this mixed bag of remixes shows just how intense and fragile Frost’s compositions really are with the slightest nudge – however well-meaning – seemingly able to topple his aural sculptures. However, in the hands of the masterful Regis, we discover that those limitations can prove to be a gift to those who, like Frost, revel in the perverse art of sonic deconstruction and reconfiguration.
American experimental artist Dutch E Germ’s radical, droning rework of Venter is probably the most adventurous track here, giving proper attention to both the noise and the delicacy of Frost’s original.
...artists’ intelligent treatment of Frost’s material: a clean polish to the harsh ambiguities of his sound.
If a remix EP is only as good as its remixers, then Ben Frost’s V A R I A N T has a hell of a lot going for it. Kangding Ray, HTRK, Regis, Evian Christ and Dutch E Germ transform selections from the Reykjavík-based experimentalist’s stunning A U R O R A LP, using its thunderous percussion and icy textures in five distinctive ways
...Nolan remix – it’s the only track on the EP that comes close to combining beauty and horror the way Frost himself does so perfectly…
V A R I A N T is a collection of remixed songs that does its job perfectly as an accompanying part to Ben Frost’s interstellar expedition, and successfully displays the skills of every producer without compromising any real flow or dragging on at any point.
The Quietus saw Ben Frost last year and heck it was a good gig - the man’s electronic battery bolstered by some extra live drum pugilism. We’re therefore excited to report that Frost has a new album due out this spring. Expect this to be Zane Lowe’s “hottest record up my arse right now!” some time soon.
...Ben Frost had us all in a choke-hold with 2009’s By the Throat, but he slowly relaxed his grip and drifted off into collaborative ventures, leaving me surfing OkCupid for a new partner who was into strangling. But as of a recent announcement, I can already feel the neck burns reforming about my vulnerable nape as Mr. Frost will indeed release his first solo follow-up on May 27, entitled A U R O R A!
“Venter” is the LP’s first single and centerpiece, a six-minute-long menacing adventure over a frozen tundra that leads up to heart-racing mountain of percussives before an avalanche of crystallized synths and icy burns bury you chest deep just upon reaching the apex. The bright hues of the season may be in full bloom by the time this LP arrives, but the cold, scary atmosphere bleeding throughout Icelandic-by-way-of-Australian soundmaker’s composition puts spring off into a far off distance.
“Venter” starts with a bassy percussion duet that builds while electronic washes slowly emerge into the relentless drumming, multiplying create a beautiful, noisy chaos that doesn’t fade until it implodes in under its own weight.
In the world of noise music, Frost means a great deal; his releases and collaborations have been of the highest caliber…
Best New Track
I suppose we should be thankful that “Venter”, the first sample of Frost’s collaboration with Greg Fox (formerly of Liturgy), Thor Harris and Shahzad Ismaily, is a piece of music rather than a WMD. But, hell, it’s not that far off. I’m not going to spoil what happens, but let’s just say it’s called “Venter” for a damn good reason.
...A U R O R A, has garnered enough enthusiasm to snowball into the ambient event of the year.. It’s easy to understand the excitement.
“...‘A U R O R A’ is both testing of boundaries and transcendental of beauty.
Nothing Frost’s released before this has resonated with such life, such energy and desire for breaching an invisible barrier separating the extraordinary from the wholly otherworldly.”
...This week we heard the first single, “Venter,” which has left us speechless.
...it’s a harrowing and thump-heavy number that’ll surely raise some goosebumps
...once this album takes you prisoner it doesn’t let you go again.
A U R O R A is primal and thrilling, a pitch black lair in which a vicious electronic entity stalks its unstable ecosystem looking for its next victim. Pounding drums throb against the metallic structures of old, only just managing to keep the rhythms at bay. A toxic, synthetic substance runs through the music and into its veins. The thick, muscular beats can’t be contained, let alone quarantined. Harmonic ghosts are always close at hand, but they are cloaked in a waterproof layer of tight, suffocating static. A U R O R A is always on the move, glinting malevolently as it runs around the track, something that is incapable of love but rocks the very foundations with its thunderous power.
... a six-minute-long menacing adventure over a frozen tundra that leads up to heart-racing mountain of percussives before an avalanche of crystallized synths and icy burns bury you chest deep just upon reaching the apex.
...Venter is an intricate and hypnotising piece of production that could easily put you in a trance given the chance and within the right circumstances. Brilliant stuff.
8.5 ‘Best New Music’.
A U R O R A can be heard as Frost’s attempt to create something physical, and it stands above the rest of his discography.
Deeply unsettling, heart-quickeningly intense and often gorgeous.
Where 2009’s By The Throat was ruthless but exacting, this one feels genuinely unhinged—and that unpredictability makes it far more thrilling than any engineered suspense could have been.
Ben Frost has pulled off something quite remarkable with A U R O R A in making a record that’s pretty terrifying in places yet so utterly irresistible.
Frost’s fifth solo outing, A U R O R A, is a brutal yet glorious release that doubles up as an unbending overture to fervour and force.
If his aim was to give musical form to the eastern DRC’s “unnerving beauty and unflinching horror”, then A U R O R A is a dazzling success.
...he’s made the heaviest and most combustive electronic album of the year
It sounds at times like shifting tectonic masses of abrasive synths and blast beats colliding with each other on some giant sonic lithosphere, a kind of volcanic, geological breakup of an angry, auditory Pangea.
If By The Throat was snow-driven purgatory then A U R O R A is the fires of hell.
The resulting album is a dark, post-industrial soundscape, relentlessly synthetic, teetering between pure chaos and epiphanic transcendence. In its wildest moments, when the most overjoyed melodies collide with the most savage noise, the most physical beats, it can feel like there might be no distinction there at all.
Ben Frost’s breakthrough fifth album has given the Australian-born producer a higher profile than ever. And not a moment too soon, as he’s one of the most visionary and articulate artists of his generation.
Frost still seems concerned with giving his music a crunchy texture, creating for the listener a meticulously written, gorgeously performed piece of art that just happens to be encrusted within a burning, burping, blistering volcano of clamour.
A U R O R A is an album that revels in how unsettling it can be, but also rewards the listener in a way that many ambient albums miss out on. Ben Frost hit just the right buttons and keys to marry drones and harmony in a way that evokes your favorite late night sci-fi schlock.
Listening to A U R O R A is like driving through a blizzard at night — cold, surreal, gorgeously serene, and abjectly terrifying all at once.
If you’ve not yet let Ben Frost into your life, you should – because this is rich and rewarding electronic shamanism.
On this latest release, Ben Frost retains his commitment to militant rhythms, aggressive textures, and ominous timbres. A U R O R A is accessible noise, like Frost’s previous work, but here, the cacophony is imbued with a shimmering vibrancy, openness, and vitality.
Ben Frost delivered his most fully realised album to date with A U R O R A.
Like a great horror film where one wants desperately to look away but cannot, it attracts and repels so convincingly that one must listen to it over and again in order to uncover its many—often terrible—secrets.
Frost's work is more than a hall of terrors: These vivid instrumentals, which seem menacing at first, also feel somehow triumphant when heard again – new details becoming more crucial. By the Throat might frighten on the first listen, and it might shock by the 12th. But, somewhere in between, Frost – both a compelling new musical dramaturge and arranger – might just show you the silver lining of all these fears.
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