Ben Frost – “Venter”

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It’s telling that two of the most recognizable names among the batch of guest performers on Australian/Icelandic producer Ben Frost‘s new album, A U R O R A, are drummers. Greg Fox — now of Guardian Alien — notably invented the “burst beat” (or so the lore goes), on Liturgy’s transcendental black metal powerhouse Aesthethica. And Thor Harris, in addition to writing up the definitive list on how to behave while on tour, has provided the thumping backdrop to apocalyptic sonic treatments from both Shearwater and Swans. It’s important to note these two performers when diving into the stormy depths of “Venter,” because the very first sounds on the track are drums — pounding and pummeling, clicking and clacking, causing ripples that lead to tremors and, with just the right resonant frequency, might very well open up a rift in the tectonic plates.

The volcanic explosion doesn’t happen until around four minutes in, however, and there’s a lot that happens leading up to it, however gradually it takes its course. Frost and his skins-pounding collaborators begin “Venter” by working up a head of steam and smoke, which grows all the more intimidating as it comes billowing out of the track’s gaping mouth. In comes a collage of static and chimes, the ominous ring of bells, and an ever-growing sense of terror that rises up with each measure. Just look at the levels on the embedded track below and you’ll see exactly how gradually and steadily it rises, up until that short break four minutes in. And then it erupts — a rhythmic explosion, noise scattering across the landscape like flaming projectiles spewing from the depths, sent from below to destroy the fragile earth above. It’s awesome. It’s terrifying. It’s beautiful.

[from A U R O R A, out May 27; Mute]
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