Ben Frost - The Centre Cannot Hold album review

The Solaris/Fortitude soundtrack composer’s fifth, recorded with Steve Albini

Ben Frost - The Centre Cannot Hold album artwork

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The video forThreshold Of Faith – disorientatingly shot, and treated to appear as vivid blue and eerie white – features images of a man’s pale, soaked upper torso being wired up to some kind of medical apparatus, deep blue water currents rushing past ghostly fish, and billowing black and blue clouds. It almost perfectly reflects Frost’s music. The Iceland-based Australian’s main instrument is the guitar, but whatever the main sound source on this track, it’s electronically processed to within an inch of its life and rotates on an eccentric cycle along with crunchy clouds of digital noise and sub-bass notes going off like depth charges. A luminous keyboard melody rises up out of the darkness towards the close. All the music here, though powerful and at times rather forbidding, has a sense of distance. The carefully picked guitar notes and deep pulses of Meg Ryan Eyez seem shrouded in a sonic gauze, while on Ionia, massive bass notes punch out from the background through a sea of abstract, churning sound. Healthcare is a procession of huge, shuddering guitar chords, but like many of these pieces, it ultimately finds its resolution, in this case with a lovely, translucent keyboard melody

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.