Musician Ben Frost wielding new sounds like ‘pack of wild animals’
PUBLISHED: 17:13 17 November 2014 | UPDATED: 17:13 17 November 2014
“As a general rule, I’ve always been attracted to the weirdest guy in the room,” says Ben Frost. “That goes all the way back to my childhood – it was always the crazy uncle or the delinquent cousin who didn’t fit in who proved fascinating to me.”
Having spent the best part of this century working with cult geniuses like Brian Eno, this sense of curiosity evidently hasn’t worn off for the experimental Australian musician, and it’s paying dividends. His latest album, Aurora, is possibly his most fully realised yet; highlights such as Ventor and Nolan build on the aggressive, speaker shredding electronic compositions of his previous record, 2009’s By The Throat, to devastating effect.
The majority of Aurora was written while Frost was working in the Democratic Republic of Congo with artist Richard Mosse and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten on the Deutsche Börse prize-winning film installation, The Enclave. Considering he also left his native Melbourne in his twenties to live in Iceland, I ask him if he sees travelling the world as a crucial way to keep broadening his personal and musical horizons. “Absolutely, I mean it gets increasingly difficult now because you can, to a much larger extent, take your environment round with you. As long as you get a f***ng wi-fi connection, really how different can your world be when you’re permanently connected to this centralised reality?
“It’s kind of depressing actually. It takes more discipline now to have that experience than it used to. I, like every single other person I know, has just become a f***ing sad victim of internet addiction and it’s horrific that the physical world is so profoundly capable of shattering the grip on your internalised patterns.”
Part of renowned Icelandic music collective Bedroom Community, Frost’s thoughtful, considered nature has won him admirers across the globe and led to work on film scores like Sleeping Beauty and In Her Skin, as well as collaborative projects that include Music for Solaris – a musical adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s original novel and the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky film, Solaris – with Daníel Bjarnason.
Making music, he explains, is all about recognising the “internal kind of equilibrium that exists inside me, which I look for in other objects”. “For me, when I’m working, no matter what the circumstances, there’s just an arrangement of space that, for reasons that I cant explain to you, just feel right. And then you move f***ing 10cm to the left and it doesn’t feel right anymore. The struggle for me in making a record is making those things perfect.” Frost comes to St John at Hackney Church tonight and is supported by legendary minimalist composer Tony Conrad. Considering his admiration for the latter, the Australian admits to feeling “quite daunted by the idea of having to follow that and I very rarely feel that way”. Utimately, however, he has a steely confidence in the power of his live show and the relationship of trust and responsibility between himself and his audience.
“Being able to wield this music like a f***ing pack of wild animals, it’s a magical space of being. In the right circumstances, it can really feel overwhelmingly physical and, to be honest, sometimes it feels downright dangerous.”
Ben Frost plays St John at Hackney Church tonight (Nov 13). Visit stjohnsessions.co.uk
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