THEORY OF MACHINES
Original Issue: 2006 Bedroom Community (HVALUR 2) (Buy it here!!!)
Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5
1 Theory Of Machines 9:30
2 Stomp 8:26
3 We Love You Michael Gira 7:49
4 ...Coda 1:42
5 Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water 11:13
When readers of this site kept recommending Ben Frost, I knew that it was an artist I should seek out (as my readers most often know more than I do), and after hearing his album Theory Of Machines, I'm glad that I did. The second release on the fledgling Bedroom Community label, it's also the third release from Frost, and finds him pushing even further into powerful audio explorations that sounds something like Tim Hecker with occasionally punishing rhythms. He examines textures and timbres in lovely, and sometimes disturbing ways over the course of five tracks and just under forty minutes, mixing pastoral beauty with gut-churning blasts in other places.
The album-titled opener "Theory Of Machines" sets the tone with a super-slow build of filtered guitar that's almost crystalline in places. Eventually, slow-morphing sludgy bass enters the mix and the track builds to a powerful climax of screaming guitars and overdriven beats about two-thirds of the way through before melting into ambience again. "Stomp" follows, and takes a slightly different direction, with programmed beat thumps banging across a more barren landscape while distance waves of noise only creep into the foreground during a crunchy ending.
"We Love You Michael Gira" conveys a similar sense of dread as many tracks on the album, and this time Frost pulls it off by again barely keeping waves of feedback under control for the first half of the track before letting loose with a repeating high tone (that resembles a medical device warning sound) and some beats that are absolutely coated in feedback and on the verge of breaking down. A string coda at the end of the song does nothing to lighten the mood.
If the former track was barely-contained violence, then "Coda" is where things let loose with any pent up energy. The two-minute track is all scorching guitar noise, red-lined bass pulses, and hammering drums that finally blur out at the end. Given all that came before it, it seems only fitting that the closer of "Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water" takes things down a great deal to warm repeated tones, filtered drones, and some subtle strings that sound something like a more layered version of the minimal pulse-tone work that Oren Ambarchi has mastered. Even though it's a shorter album, Theory Of Machines is by no means a light listen. With several moments that will make your hair stand up on end (both for sheer beauty and dread), this is definitely worth seeking out.