Composer Ben Frost’s A U R O R A might perhaps be an album ahead of its time but for those stuck in the present, it may simply be too cutting edge to be digestible at first taste. Heavy on the percussion beats while stretching the use of chiming bells and deep synths, A U R O R A is a industrialist-lover’s dream come true. Futuristically dark but poignantly beautiful, Frost captivates with a record that brings a nostalgic touch of the hardened mid-90s’ industrial days yet freshened through a mixture of contemporary-like improvisations.
Off the bat, “Nolan” the second single off the album is the undeniable warranted price for admission with an aggression and anger that is tensely thick but remarkably protrudes a jubilant, upbeat tone. So too is its complimentary piece “Venter,” equally uptempo in pace but with a more dramatic flair. A U R O R A resembles an even more theatrical pacing of Brad Fiedel’s iconic score for Terminator 2 – broody, gutsy, and lavishly apocalyptic (“Secant,” the record’s most structurally composed track in terms of depth, will easily ring memories of the main theme from Cameron’s 1991 blockbuster).
At times on A U R O R A, Frost’s experimentation can get a bit out of control and incredibly difficult to endure. Much of the static fuzz on tracks such as “Diphenyl Oxalate” and the opening “Flex” are so rough its almost painful just trying to zone out.
But Frost excels on A U R O R A where it matters most – tough damnation percussion mixed with hesitant distortions, creating oddly melodic vibes. There is an allure to the controlled roughness that goes beyond typical adrenaline-injected industrialism. Never is that more apparent in A U R O R A‘s closing sets “Sola Fide” and “A Single Point of Blinding Light,” where Frost combines a rapid BPM of hard drums set to searing yet adjusted synths to create an unworldly soundscape of the future.
Make no mistake, aside from its headlining tracks “Nolan” and “Venter” A U R O R A is not an easy first listen. It’s incredibly harsh, dystopian craftwork may be offsetting but given the chance for a deeper look, one will discover A U R O R A is a highly intellectual, if not enjoyable romp. There is a seriousness in undertone to A U R O R A that sets it apart from recent industrial/electronic experimental recordings but even more telling is the richness and depth in structure found on the majority of the album completely elevates Frost’s work to another level. Darkly robotic and maddening as A U R O R A is, its brilliantly addictive every go around.
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