Album Review – BEN FROST: A U R O R A

Reaching the end of Ben Frosts A U R O R A immediately makes you reach for the rewind button

… but not on some sleek Apple device, but a VHS remote. The Australian artist put to wax all of the emotion and grit of a ‘80s sci-fi flick, complete with bad lighting and loose tracking to boot. What can first appear as a scatterbrained exposition plays much better as a long-form adventure. It’d be unfair to say “sit back and relax” as A U R O R A seems hell bent on making you feel uneasy in the best possible way.

The opening track, “Flex” is, for the most part, one continuous, ominous tone eventually bleeding into synth and drum heavy jazz sections. It’s almost as if the song is fighting itself, trying to release the humanity within the machine. This is evident as it fades into the next song, “Nolan” and a slightly more organic sound emerges.

So much of A U R O R A is undercut with ambient noise that it’s easy to miss out on the expertise at play. Ben Frost is no slouch when it comes to creating an immersive experience that almost makes the listener feel like they’re earning their enjoyment. You can tell Frost is having a good time underneath all of the pathos as well. The most “dance-y” track on the album, “Diphenyl Oxalate” (named after the chemical used to make glow sticks), finds A U R O R A at its most upbeat.

The most varied and versatile song on the album, “Venter” plays like a smorgasbord of everything A U R O R A has to offer. It’s dark yet uplifting at the same time, truly capturing the thematic battle of man vs. machine more than any other track on the album. The drums come in and out, going between clear thumps and distorted mayhem before being replaced with synth and chimes.

A U R O R A is an album that revels in how unsettling it can be, but also rewards the listener in a way that many ambient albums miss out on. Ben Frost hit just the right buttons and keys to marry drones and harmony in a way that evokes your favorite late night sci-fi schlock. It could very well rub people the wrong way, and Frost probably doesn’t care one bit. He’s made a fun piece of art to hang with his other projects proudly.

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