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Review Tue Nov 04 2014

Ben Frost Creates Panic at Constellation (10/31)

ben-frost-1.jpg
photo credit: Kelav Slavoran

As I left my apartment to see Ben Frost the other day, the weather shifted. The sky changed to a ominous shade of black. An inescapable coldness filled the air as flakes of snow fell from the sky, their luminous white color in stark contrast of the overwhelming darkness around them. It was beautiful.

Ben Frost is a minimalist composer based in Reykjavík who creates compositions primarily built around cold synthesizers, spacious feedback, and crisp drumming full of menace brought to you by former Liturgy drummer Greg Fox. Works such as "Secant" seem to viciously grab the listener, filling them a sense of magnetic dread which they are unable to look away from. His work has this unmistakable sound of ambient doom, also commonly heard in composers such as Wrekmeister Harmonies and Haxan Cloak which I find to be thrilling. If you're into the recent film scores of Trent Reznor, I'd recommend giving Frost's newest album, A U R O R A, a listen.

This past Friday, Ben Frost made a rare appearance. The last time he performed here was way back in 2010 during Sonar's residency in Chicago. Back in 2010, he played a random room downtown in the Cultural Center in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend to an assortment of fans who desperately wanted to be there and annoyed tourists that happened to be passing by. As this was happening, I couldn't help but think that would have been infinitely better in a club setting. That was more or less my feelings about the entirety of the Sonar residency, though. This past Friday, Frost returned to Chicago and played to a full house at Constellation.

ben-frost-2.jpg
photo credit: Kelav Slavoran

Hidden behind almost complete darkness and rapidly flashing lights that were intensely bright, Frost performed a collection of works throughout his career, but focused mainly on his newest album, A U R O R A. Tracks like "Flex" which were already incredibly anxious, found new itself attaining new heights of dread by the relentless visual barrage of darkness and light. Augmented by the depth of a full band, "A Single Point of Blinding Light" never sounded ever more strong and perilous. The sound was so strong, that several times throughout the performance, Frost lost power and the show momentarily stopped to address it.

ben-frost-3.jpg
photo credit: Kelav Slavoran

Frost ended his set with one the powerful pieces that he's composed, "Nolan." Fueled by the omnipresent visual barrage of darkness and light, the room found itself full of commandingly ominous drums and glitchy distortion to the almost breaking point. Suddenly, without warning, everything ended. In the best way possible, it seemed like a futuristic take on an ancient religious sacrificial ceremony. I walked back outside and embraced the cold.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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