Ben Frost - The Teeth Behind Kisses

11 months ago

Ben Frost puts a lot of thought into his music, technically and conceptually. His song titles and interviews pack his dense, throbbing scrawls with allusions to everything from biochemistry to Ghostbusters.

This is somewhat ironic, as the main capacity of his music is to overwhelm rational thought. It registers in the limbs and viscera, not in the mind. On A U R O R A, mostly recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Frost mostly jettisons the guitars and classical instruments of prior albums, though standout deep cut "Sola Fide" does sound like a catastrophic collision between chamber music and a rave.

Instead, he doubles down on heavy synths and heaving drums courtesy of powerhouses such as Greg Fox (Liturgy), Thor Harris (Swans), and Shahzad Ismaily. The result has a rough but elaborate physical presence—something huge and shuddering running on filthy kerosene, about to snap a belt or throw a bolt and maim the operator. But Frost is never overpowered by his brawny, chaotic material.

However strong it is, his will is stronger, and gales of distortion bend to his command with clarity and definition. His prior marquee album, 2009’s By the Throat, was excellent but less single-minded in its pursuit. This is the one that really grabs you and doesn’t let go.

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