The first release from Ben Frost was the Music For Sad Children EP which was handmade and self-distributed at This Is Not Art in 2001. Since then Ben’s music has developed and grown with releases on Room40 including 2003’s superb Steel Wound, and an album of apopcalyptic post rock worthy of the Constellation label under the guise of School Of Emotional Engineering. Now based in Iceland and working closely with producer/engineer Valgeir SigurÃ°sson, his latest album Theory Of Machines is the result of his new working environment and studio access.
With only 4 long tracks and a short interlude, Theory Of Machines could have been a quickly forgotten listen, but each track is a sublime condensation of experience – dynamic, expansive and epic. The title track opener unravels a slow drone into a flurry of tearing distortion and crashing drums like the sound of icebergs breaking slowly apart. ‘Stomp’ begins with an electronic pulse before processed guitars flay and disintegrate into ambience. There is a strong narrative progression with all the tracks here as well – ‘We Love Michael Gira’ begins as a drone unfolding into a subtle orchestral swell, and the final track unfurls delicately over nearly twelve minutes from electronic pulses, and bell-like tones into lush strings.
Parts recall Oren Ambarchi’s fabulous Grapes From The Estate, others the visceral impact of Mogwai, and, as is obvious from the hat tip to Michael Gira, the dense, relentlessness of The Swans and Gira’s other projects also sits as reference point.