Ben Frost – A U R O R A

A lot of people’s first impressions of composer Ben Frost were through the critically acclaimed By the Throat, which seemed as influenced by metal and noise as it was by classical minimalism. But after the subsequent efforts like Sólaris and a mentorship with Brian Eno, we witnessed Frost’s tendency for minimal tension overriding his habits for harsher blasts of grim grit. This wasn’t a bad thing; no, and at the expense of sounding trite, Frost can move mountains with his pinky nail when it comes to how inherently powerful his minimalism can be. And with A U R O R A, Frost has once again surprised us with how he manifests that power.

In this record, the swells and climaxes Frost has become known for are thinner and more apparently synthesizer-based, but to no expense of the tracks. The shinier sawtooth of these lead synths recall Axolotl, but at times transform in to full-fledged rave music being played through a blown speaker. This dancier side to things may explain the recent wider appeal and attention that this record has alreadygarnered, or maybe it just took this long to get everyone to catch on to Frost’s talent. Things even get a little nostalgic sounding on tracks like “Secant” that sound like an 80s film coming in on a bad antenna, recorded to VHS, and replayed 20 years later.

This is definitely a new sound for Frost, expanded and uninhibited, more heady than bodily, percussive, and clearly an effort that everyone seems to be getting.

-April Davis

 

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