Ben Frost

Sunday • Contemporary Arts Center

You can count on the Contemporary Arts Center’s Performance Series to bring in the best cutting-edge musicians right when their latest albums are accumulating Best of the Year accolades. Merrill Garbus’ project tUnE-yArDs played the CAC after 2011’s Whokill won Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll’s Best Album honor. Now, the Australian-born, Iceland-based composer Ben Frost arrives on Sunday, shortly after Rolling Stone declared his new A U R O R A album one of 2014’s best to date.

This is Electronica, but it’s neither conventional Electronic Dance music, pure-noise Industrial nor (solely) peacefully Ambient droning. Noirish and foreboding, thrilling and involving, it aurally paints a landscape that has been compared to Blade Runner. It unfolds for 40 minutes, like an urgent story.

The music can be lulling, even comforting, in its brooding introspection, but it keeps building — it’s complicated like a symphony. Overall, it’s tough and emotional, with moments of grandeur along with reverence to minimalism.

Frost has been a prolific 21st century composer, not always working in the purely Electronic vein but, like so many Icelandic artists, persistently looking to create something new out of elements of it and much else. Frost has worked with others who have performed here previously — he owns the Bedroom Community label that released A U R O R A with Valgeir Sigurdsson (another CAC visitor) and Nico Muhly, who had a piece performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at this year’s MusicNOW event.

This looks to be one of those state-of-New-Music shows that will have those who attend talking for some time.


BEN FROST plays at the Contemporary Arts Center Sunday, Oct.19. Find tickets/more info here .
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