Ben Frost The Centre Cannot Hold
Published Sep 27, 2017Ben Frost focuses on what most would consider the cracks or mistakes in modern production — buzzing, hissing, feedback, distortion — and amplifies them to sculpt his own unique sound world. His music collects at the vertices of noise, electronic, avant-garde and minimalism. His latest work, The Centre Cannot Hold, was recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, known for raw but huge sounds in rock, punk, grunge, and it complements Frost nicely throughout.
"Threshold of Faith" works well as the explosive opening track (as it did on its eponymous EP earlier this year). "A Sharp Blow in Passing" then contrasts that aggression with ghostly melodies and wandering electronic drums that snap into crystalline focus around the three-minute mark, and again change gears around 3:46. These abrupt shifts prevent Frost's melodic side from settling in too comfortably, too soon.
"All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated" appeared only in remixed forms (by Albini and by Lotic) on the Threshold of Faith EP, but Frost's original shines here. The mood is sombre and subtle, almost prayerful, despite the violent title. As the penultimate track on this album, the melodies are given more room to breathe.
Tremolo effects pop up on almost every track in some capacity, usually during the most intense parts. This effect adds a slithering, writhing feeling to what would otherwise be monolithic slabs of sound. It's a wise technique, as the sonic quivering is usually more unsettling than a drone or sustained noise would be on its own.
Ben Frost again proves himself to be adept at juggling noise and melody, rhythm and drone, distortion and clarity on The Centre Cannot Hold, a record that sculpts comfort from chaos and tunnels through darkness back to light. (Mute)