Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
In case you couldn’t tell by the masochistic cover of his dazzling Bedroom Community debut (2007’s Theory of Machines), or his willingness to wade into war-torn areas like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (as he did for 2014’s A U R O R A), Ben Frost is a little…intense. When it comes to performing his prickly ambient-noise pieces, the Australian composer/producer doesn’t need much to reduce a room to rubble, either; just a laptop full of frantic loops and an electric guitar.
While he’s whipped up quite a racket over the past decade, The Centre Cannot Hold is as close as Frost has come to bottling the lightning that makes his live sets feel so alive. Developed over the course of 10 exhausting days in Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio, the rough-hewn record is the sound of a sculptor collapsing under the metaphorical weight of his own creations. A battle royale between man and his beloved machines, essentially, where the latter is a few rounds away from a technical knockout.
In other words, the 10 songs on here were not tweaked and tightened on ProTools. From its crushing opener (“Threshold of Faith”) to its knuckle-dragging climax (“Entropy in Blue”), The Centre Cannot Hold is free to move about the cabin of our mad, mad world—sputtering, screeching, and singing its way through soot-covered streets, a rhapsody in ultramarine.