Review Summary: From the turbulent launch in 'Flex' to the hectic comedown in 'Sola Fide' and all the tension, exploration and horror in between, A U R O R A is as close to an aural feature full-length you'll ever get.
When considering A U R O R A
, you cannot ignore the striking similarity with Gravity
, Alfonso Cuar├│n's true visual marvel from last year. The comparison is in fact inevitable. Ben Frost's fifth solo release manages to evoke both the vast emptiness and loneliness of space and the visceral harshness of the environment in the same vein as that critically acclaimed film. Pack some state-of-the-art audiophile headphones - frankly, they're a must - and before long you're lifting off, tumbling back down and swirling uncontrollably through the weightless black. A U R O R A
, in contrast perhaps to other pieces of experimental electronic music, is not cerebral, but primal and sensatory in a way like few other albums have managed to be before it.
Frost treats unadulterated silence and noise as the main and contradictory ingredients that make up A U R O R A
. As 'The Teeth Behind Kisses' unfolds and the listener is placed into steady orbit, it's hard to even distinguish the waveforms of the music from background hiss. It acts quite literally as the silence before the storm. This is then followed by 'Secant', one of the three centerpieces of the album and an exploration of Frost's endless fascination with heavy machinery. Gears start grinding, metal gets sharpened and spews fiery sparks, engines blaze and propel massive monoliths... It's hard to imagine that most of the sounds on here originate from something as flimsy as a laptop, because the tracks at times feel as dense as the core of an enormous star. It's all so bombastic and full of blockbuster sheen; it's also great art.
The same goes for the other two heavyweights on A U R O R A
, 'Nolan' and 'Venter', with thunderous percussion, epic synth white noise and moving quite-melodic motives underneath. That last part is particularly important, because while it's the bombast and sheer scale of the music that gets you hooked, it's the impressive compositorial strength of the pieces that greatly rewards repeated listening of the album. In this regard, Frost's background in composing original scores really helped him in carving out a compelling dramatic arc throughout the album. From the turbulent launch in 'Flex' to the hectic comedown in 'Sola Fide' and all the tension, exploration and horror in between, A U R O R A
is as close to an aural feature full-length you'll ever get.