Even if you don’t know Ben Frost’s name, you’ve likely been scarred by his work. Swans’ The Seer, Tim Hecker’s Virgins, and Colin Stetson’s explosive New History Warfare trilogy all were given additional muscular edge due to Frost’s assistance, but nothing hits quite as hard as the noise/drone producer’s solo work. Frost hasn’t released a solo album since the wolf-sampling, black metal deconstructions of By The Throat five years ago. But he’s teamed with drummers Thor Harris of Swans, and Greg Fox of Guardian Alien (and formerly Liturgy), for the forthcoming album A U R O R A. And today he’s shares the album’s crushing centerpiece.
Over the first half of “Venture,” Harris and Fox pile heavy (though not precisely loud) percussion over a frozen soundscape, building pressure. Harris’ menacing chimes eventually appear, the same ones that are an iconic part of Swans’ sound. It’s music that sounds as if it’ll break down at any minute from tension, and eventually does, as it dissolves into complete eye-of-the-storm calm right before the 4-minute mark — and then all fucking hell breaks loose. The drums hit even harder, and razor-sharp synths crash like an avalanche as the entire track is swallowed up in pulsing melodies and rushing noise, before stopping like a car hitting a wall at 120mph. In the world of noise music, Frost means a great deal; his releases and collaborations have been of the highest caliber, he spent a year working closely as Brian Eno’s protégé, and to be completely honest I’ve spent the last couple years checking every few weeks for any word of a new album. Still, none of it really prepares you for this beautiful storm of a song. Listen below.
A U R O R A is out 5/26 via Mute.