Unless you are devoutly invested in contemporary experimental music, Ben Frost’s name is likely unfamiliar. But if the Reykjavík-based Australian producer and composer’s titanic, constantly mutating new album A U R O R A is any indication, that may change soon. Frost contributed to Swans’ The Seer and Tim Hecker’s last two full-length releases, and A U R O R A is his fifth studio effort. While his stagehand work on other’s recordings prove to be a helpful guideposts, A U R O R A makes it very clear that he’s fine-tuned a sound that’s all his own.
Ditching the “traditional” instruments of his previous efforts like 2007′s ruminative Theory of Machines and 2009′s slyly feral By the Throat, Frost’s music now feels unencumbered, relying on electronics to create monolithic peaks and dark, fathomless troughs. Taking everything from black metal textures to futuristic synth work to fried bits of noise, A U R O R A is an encompassing, sometimes overwhelming experience. Opener “Flex” mimes the harrowing descent of a doomed airliner; the brightly-colored, Olympian climax of “Secant” feels ripped from science fiction; propulsive first single “Venter” is both tribal (Swans’ Thor Harris lends a hand on bells) and triumphantly intergalactic. Radiating an oddly pretty but frightening bioluminescence, A U R O R A suggests that it’s OK to look, but not to touch.