The Centre Cannot Hold: A Review

Since his outstanding album entitled A U R O R A, released three years ago, we haven’t seen a full-length album from Ben Frost. While perusing projects related to musical soundtracks (Fortitude, Rainbow Six), various collaborations with artists such as Swans, Brian Eno and Daniel Bjarnason, and an EP of remixes, Frost’s return in long form comes as a result of ten days in a “cavernous studio” in Chicago with producer Steve Albini of Shellac. This union resulted in more than two hours of new material that has materialised in Threshold Of Faith, an EP that saw the light at the end of July, and, more recently The Center Cannot Hold.

The Australian’s fifth release begins with Threshold Of Faith, where the sound of some disturbing assisted respiration is interspersed with the abrasive and dark atmospheres that characterise the artist’s Icelandic surroundings. It’s a climate that can turn into fear, especially if we also visualise the chilling and Nordic feeling video clip that accompanies this song. As we move through the album, these sombre textures and soundscapes increasingly expand, creating an abstract, threatening and apocalyptic environment. As Frost himself said, Music is not totally controlled and seems to be anxious”. Serving as an example of this is All That You Love or A Sharp Blow in Passing, where the base appears bluntly and striking, evoking the striking soundtrack of Inception from Hans Zimmer.

But as it happened in A U R O R A, Frost shows us again that he can still find beauty and emotion in such darkness. The luminous melodies reappear unexpectedly between both noise and darkness, as happens in Trauma Theory or Ionia.

Entropy In Blue closes the album with a hammering beat that abruptly becomes the reassuring sound of waves ending 51 minutes. Frost leaves us lying and exhausted on the sand with a great exercise of experimental electronics, full of textures and obsessive soundscapes.

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