Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Ben Frost - Theory Of Machines
Ben Frost. Theory Of Machines. Great album. The opening title track, however, is stellar. It starts with fluttery muted piano and some soft guitar drone. Then the low rumbly bass comes in, creating something like a beat, albeit a very slow one. Eventually, an actual beat comes, with snare, cymbals and such. Everything morphs and builds and fades, creating a superb wall of noise, only to drop out into shimmery nothingness. And contrary to how pitiful my words sound in describing "Theory Of Machines," this is truly one of the most gorgeous songs I've heard all year. And for that reason alone, Theory Of Machines is worth every dime spent on it.
But there's still 4 more tracks left to enchant you and they sure do their job. The rest of the album is a bit more industrial sounding than "Theory Of Machines." A little darker and bleaker, with less pretty drones. The majority of the instruments sound like various drum machines and other electronics, with the occasional guitar. But Theory Of Machines does have a nice variety, nothing ever gets tiring. There are both bits of abrasive, scratching distortion and soothing strings and electronic beeps. Plenty to keep you engaged all throughout.
"Stomp" is almost the epitome of the sound found on Theory Of Machines. It's like the kind of song that would be playing while Deckard is searching through sketchy alleys looking for a rogue andy in Blade Runner. Come to think of it, if Vangelis had opted out of doing the soundtrack to Blade Runner, I think Ben Frost would have been a perfect fit (ignoring time lines). And maybe he should do one anyway, in his free time. It would give the movie a much different feeling than from Vangelis' music, but I'm sure it would totally kick ass.
Of course, it's worth mentioning that Ben Frost is from Iceland, mostly because it's always worth mentioning if someone's from Iceland. Speaking in generalities, this is the darkest thing I can ever remember hearing come from Iceland. That is, everything except the last song, "Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water" (great title, btw). It's totally everything you would expect to hear form Iceland, pretty and filled with strings. It's certainly a strange way to end Theory Of Machines but maybe Frost is trying to say that while machines can go bad and do wrong, eventually everything turns out OK. At least, I hope that's what he's saying, because that would be cool.
Theory Of Machines is out now on Bedroom Community Records and the artwork is really fantastic. The inside sleeve folds out to see (who I assume is) Ben all tied up, hanging upside down. Lots of great photography and liner notes; definitely worthy of purchase.