Bedroom Community

The Wasp Factory

Catalog Number: HVALUR25

Released: December 09 2016

Buy CD €14.99 | Download €14.99 | LP €19.99

  1.  The Wasp Factory
  2.  I See You've Washed Your Hands Again
  3. Death No Less
  4.  Low Tide
  5.  Blyth
  6.  My Greatest Enemies Are Women And The Sea
  7.  High Tide
  8. To be Mastered, The World Must Be Named
  9.  What Happened To Me
  10.  You Don't Have To Sleep
  11.  Stormfront
  12.  The Bomb Circle
  13.  Esmeralda
  14.  Eric Is Getting Nearer
  15.  Inferno

In advance of new music from Ben Frost in 2017, Bedroom Community is excited to present the definitive recorded version of his 2013 opera and directorial stage debut, The Wasp Factory, based on the novel by the late Iain Banks.


Setting his unwitting characters against the backdrop of vast, implacable forces of nature—storm, sea, fire, and even their own madness— Frost reaches deep into his formidable arsenal to reveal an unexpected warmth, from the composer of electronic experiments like AURORA and Theory of Machines. The focus here is on the live sound of the Reykjavík Sinfonia, recorded in Abbey Road’s Studio II and, for the first time, the human voice. He sets David Pountney's Libretto to tuneful, even soulful vocal lines; an extraordinarily unreliable narrator describing scenes of extreme violence and horror in music of incongruous loveliness.


Rather than attempt to represent his protagonist onstage with a singing, acting boy, Frost infamously cast an ensemble of 3 women to give voice to his dissociated internal monologues: Lieselot De Wilde, Jördis Richter and Wildbirds & Peacedrums' own Mariam Wallentin. And just as he did with the highly detailed instrumental writing on his albums like AURORA or Sólaris (composed with Daníel Bjarnason), here Frost creates a seamless collaboration of performer and interpreter, each singer and each player fully and sensitively inhabiting their respective nuanced parts. And the recorded result defiantly stands apart from the realm of traditionally “classical recordings”, framing in the highest definition every moment of this studio performance - the confrontationally close breath of strings and vocalist alike push and pull against a range of digital shapes and textures.


The Wasp Factory is not too far from those albums in terms of continuity with Frost's thematic obsessions. Like Sólaris, which was inspired by another so-called "sci-fi" novelist's literary masterpiece, The Wasp Factory asks what it means to be a human being, and what happens when that human being gets lost in the labyrinth of his own psyche. And like AURORA, and By the Throat, it asks where—and whether—the boundary can be drawn separating the human animal from the terrible, destructive brutality of nature.

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.

Vincent Morris — Drowned in Sound (December 7th 2016) Read all reviews

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.

Brian Howe — Pitchfork (December 27th 2016) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

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