Australian born, Icelandic-based composer/producer Ben Frost burst into the spotlight with his breathtaking Theory of Machines. Where does he go next?
“Music for me is most certainly a cold-blooded and premeditated crime, but that is not to say I don’t often get very lost in the passion of it,” Ben Frost writes via e-mail, his words a sharp contrast to the images of killer whales he includes to illustrate concepts from his forthcoming album. That album, due out later this year from Bedroom Community, has a lot of pressure on it already. Frost’s last album, 2007’s Theory of Machines (Bedroom Community) received international praise seldom doled out for experimental noise albums, including the claim that he was the future of electronic music.
Perhaps Frost’s music won over disparate audiences because it is so far removed from molds cut by other electronic artists. He is not even quite sure why he’s considered an electronic musician at all: “I find it very hard to reconcile the origin of my work with its public perception. When I listen to my music, I hear The Cure, Penderecki, and Burzum, but somehow it ends up in the dance/electronic section in many a record store. I have bought like five records in the last 12 months and most of them are by dead Eastern European composers.”
While the dead Eastern European composers may be comfortable on Frost’s forthcoming record, they share space with referents from myriad art forms. “Looking at the working titles I have used for this record, I see a lot of use of the word Black, stolen lines from Disintegration and a mildly disturbing number of Twin Peaks references,” he says, then quickly abandons David Lynch for modern art. “Sonically the record is much darker in hue. Where Theory of Machines was very clean and sort of lit in fluorescent clinical light, this record is sort of bathed in shadow like a Rothko painting. It is a far more primal and visceral record both sonically and conceptually.”
“I have many friends who make an album every year, sometimes many albums in a year. I am in many ways envious of that relationship to music.”
The primal and visceral impulses in Frost’s music come not only from the animals that guest-star (lions, sperm whales, orcas, gorillas, and wolves are all slated to appear on the new album) but from Frost’s creative process as well. “There are five pieces of music I began work on for this album and there will be five pieces on this album. I rarely abandon a piece of music. That struggle with my work is probably at the heart of its sound, a sort of fight with it. It is grueling and often there are painstaking changes and mutations and the risk of sort of sucking the life of the music is a very real threat.”
Frost reflects on his more prolific colleagues. “I have many friends who make an album every year, sometimes many albums in a year. I am in many ways envious of that relationship to music. I just need the time to fight with my ideas. I don’t spend every day on my album, far from it. It’s a very dysfunctional long-distance relationship most of the time. We meet for a couple of days, fuck and fight and then run off crying. And spend the next month waiting for the other one to call back.”