Ben Frost, as always, isn’t the easiest listen but, as always, is a fruitful one. On his latest album, The Centre Cannot Hold, Frost employs Steve Albini to helm the controls and you can feel the two feeding on one another’s power. Recorded in full at Albini’s north side Chicago studio, Frost creates an album that is at once vast and cavernous, but at the same time seems to be pulling the sky towards you. This triggers emotions Frost is known for, something like a peaceful anxiety.
From the start, the record plunges you deep into its depths. The opener “Threshold of Faith” demands the listener’s full attention. One of the only constants in this track is what could be a breathing pattern through an oxygen mask. The oxygen mask is meant to protect you from what’s chaotically swirling in and out of focus in the song, but it’s not quite doing it’s job. What the mask wearer finally realizes is that the mask isn’t needed and never was.
The second track, “A Sharp Blow in Passing,” feels like just that. A quick and dramatic build that quickly cuts off to a beautifully numb piano outro. A track that feels like the emotions one might expierence after receiving a sharp blow: a flurry of crescendos that dissipate into a numbness that can be seen as a healing process.
As the album progresses, and if the song titles are payed attention to, it becomes clear that The Centre Cannot Hold, is a stark political statement. “Trauma Theory,” “A Single Hellfire Missile Costs $100,000,” “Healthcare” and “All You Love Will Be Eviscerated” point to Frost’s discontent with current world politics.
Rounding off the album is the slowburner “Entropy in Blue.” The pulsating and beating of the track mixed with the harsh flashes of electronics seem to punctuate the album and remind us how humans go about existing: we have ourSelves and then the influence of the rest of the outside world.
The Centre Cannot Hold is out now on Mute Records and should be acquired for Fall and Winter listening. Luckily Frost will be playing Berlin on Friday, October 6th at one of Berlin’s most special venues, Funkhaus. The gig will be opened by Berlin’s own Lotic with an after party to make sure you’re still alive.