Ben Frost - A U R O R A
Thunderous bedlam of an album with moments of jarring beauty
Antipodean noisenik Ben Frost loves a bit of clatter. As anyone who has seen his visceral live shows involving a couple of drummers and Frost stalking about the stage like a weather-beaten Asos model will tell you, this lad likes to turn it up to 11. It’s not enough to be loud though, it’s essential to have a high concept behind your abrasive tumult, and here Frost does a fine job. A U R O R A (stylised title, naturally) was recorded in Eastern Congo, a place which exists ‘in a constant flux of destruction and re-creation: an 'Ouroboros’, according to Frost.
Does that matter? Not really. You will not sit down and hear this album and think, ‘hey I can get a sense of the unflinching chaos and beauty of Eastern Congo and the looming, eerie majesty of Mount Nyiragongo’. Maybe you will if you read the sleeve notes and try hard, who knows. Happily, Frost’s post-industrial sonic maelstrom can stand alone as a raging aural torrent without having to hang it on notional art bollocks.
A U R O R A is such a jarring aural beast it answers the question, ‘Tim Hecker’s back catalogue … will it blend?’ 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. There is definitely a dangerous beauty to all this carnage on ‘Nolan’ with its pounding rhythms wrapped in portentous buzzsaw electronics, while ‘Secant’ begins ponderously before inevitably swelling into a tsunami of cacophonous sturm und drang. Ditto for battering ram centrepiece ‘Venter’. Look, I’m running out of ways to say this album is an absolutely thunderous bedlam, but it is. Play it loud enough and they will be able to hear it in Eastern Congo.