I’ve only been aware of Ben Frost for a couple of years now. I found him on one of my occasional bandcamp trawls for new music and was captivated immediately. I don’t know what genre those who insist on such things would use for him, I suspect ‘noise’ might be nearest. But he is so much more than that. Here is someone who uses modern electronic techniques with all the rigorous discipline of a trained composer with the energy and raw power of a heavy rock musician.
Last night I saw him play in Leeds at the Howard Assembly Rooms (which a couple of days earlier had hosted the beautiful baroque voice of Emma Kirkby!) and it has to have been the loudest gig I’ve ever been to, it wouldn’t surprise me if the audience of ‘Dirty Dancing’ in the main Grand Theatre heard parts of it too! Teaming up with a drummer and playing mostly laptop himself, with occasional guitar, this was certainly a high-energy concert; even the quiet parts were punctuated by strobe flashes as if to provide beats where the drummer was not playing. But mostly it was quite full-on, a physical feeling even for the audience. Despite being sat down for the whole time I still felt exhausted and sweaty at the end … and it wasn’t a hot auditorium!
The beauty of the acoustic in the Howard Assembly Rooms also seemed to help here, oddly. I think it added to the grandeur of Frosts’s tone with the deep resonances of the extensively used Moog Minitaur bass synth, and the extremely powerful tom and kick drum hits. The hall has old-fashioned windows but a modern, light-wood decor which unites ancient and modern, and this music is VERY modern. It’s powerful, visceral, dissonant, polyrhythmic and almost a modern, secular religious experience. While the rest of the audience filed out at the end of the performance I sat there for another 15 minutes just saying ‘amazing’, to the man in the seat behind me 🙂
I took some photos which I’ve pasted below, but first here’s a link to his latest album ‘A U R O R A’.