Ben Frost : Scope Neglect

Ben Frost Scope Neglect review

Since his last studio record under his own name, 2017’s The Centre Cannot Hold, Ben Frost has done everything from composing a second opera, performing as a guest member in Swans on two of their macro-scale hyper-post-rock albums, and recording hours of music and incidentals as soundtracks for a number of different television and film projects. So, upon announcement that he would at last return to mononymic studio work, a full-length album return after nearly a decade away from the space, it was met by most corners aware of his work with a sense of rabidity. As it should be! His run from By The Throat to The Centre Cannot Hold, including his opera composition for the adaptation of Iain Banks’ (rest in peace) brilliant The Wasp Factory, are remarkable fusions of industrial, contemporary classical, ambient, noise and heavy metal sonics into coherent and hyper-lush bodies of work.

And yet, to these ears, Scope Neglect feels like it is lacking some final unnameable thing, ironically possessing an absent center around which to constellate its sonic ideas. The underlying sonic body will be familiar to long-time listeners of his work, that particular fusion of industrial and heavy metal sonics within an electronica framework being deployed by everyone these days from Chelsea Wolfe to HEALTH to the more avant-garde contemporary vaporwave groups at their most aggressive, a particular kind of post-NIN soundscape that has become the bread and butter of this little sonic world. Newcomers to the sonic landscape are a sudden infatuation with djent guitarwork, feeling caught halfway between the proggy contemporary shape of its use and its more nu metal origins, as well as some of the sharpened keening metal-gleam synth pads that were a staple of his soundtrack work. The set of ideas present here are not bad per se, but it is hard even after repeated listens to pick out a particular thrust that feels either catching in a hook-centered way, rhythmically or melodically, or alternatively satisfies in an ambient soundscape sensibility.

There is an attempt it feels, between particular Carpenterian synth work and the cold cybernetic feel, to emulate something akin to the brilliant soundtracks for the first two Terminator films, which became rightly iconic for how richly imagistic they were at conveying their cold, half-human majesties. But here, it feels almost as if Frost is caught between the poles, afraid to either give a dance-driven rave up to these ideas or alternatively to go full noise-soaked and avant-garde. It leaves me with a sense that the tracks are just on the precipice of activating, building and building, laying layers of sonic ideas… but then my eye glances down and I am two tracks past where I thought I was, the mark having shifted, ideas permutating under the microscope, but no eruptive moment in sight. Sometimes, extended work doing soundtracks makes a composer hungry to grab center stage with strong hooks and vicious sonic artifacts, but here it feels almost as if it has attenuated Frost’s compositional capacity too much, with these pieces feeling more like the soundtrack to some absent completing image rather than being a self-contained experience on their lonesome.

Label: Mute

Year: 2024

Similar Albums:

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top