Ben Frost The Centre Cannot Hold Mute
If you’re not acquainted with Ben Frost’s particular brand of industrial, gothic electronica and stark classical minimalism, then the fact that he once composed an opera based on Iain Banks’ disturbing novel The Wasp Factory should help anchor your expectations. Frost’s work is experimental and unsettling, but there’s deep beauty in the eye of the storm: his epochal Theory of Machines is a blur of electronic agony and effervescence, while on 2009’s By The Throat, the desolate howling and growling of wolves forms part of an austere sonic palette that is nonetheless bewitching. In general, his compositions feel like they’re warping into a sonic singularity, and the theme is continued on The Centre Cannot Hold.
Frost’s dark visions are framed by perplexingly playful song titles: Meg Ryan Eyez is essentially the molecular opposite of a rom-com, a pensive, panoramic vision of a scorched landscape. A Sharp Blow in the Passing is subtly and mechanically rhythmic, a relative of Burial’s late night introspection, and Ionia unravels like a spectral coil, shuddering bass notes providing murky beacons on its path.
The obligatory health warning for any Ben Frost album is that full enjoyment requires being in the right frame of mind. If you’re mulling over what you should/shouldn’t have said the night before, don’t put All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated on unless you want to hear that thought on repeat for the next three hours. But somewhere in the murky depths of Frost’s fertile imagination is a molten core that shines through, providing just enough fire to keep the shadows from overwhelming the light.