Ben Frost, Sanford Parker, Michael Vallera | Empty Bottle | Experimental | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Ben Frost

Ben Frost

Börkur Sigthorsson

Ben Frost, Sanford Parker, Michael Vallera 

When: Thu., May 19, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $15
Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading Greg Bear, but Ben Frost’s latest record, 2014’s Aurora (Mute), gives me science-fiction feelings. This Iceland-based Australian artist’s music roars, pulses, scintillates, and thunders like the torrential neural traffic of a just-awakened artificial intelligence whose proliferation of networks and subroutines makes the vastness of the human mind seem as humble as a raindrop. Even the passages of tense quiet—sizzling drones, distant chimes—serve largely to underscore the hugeness of its eruptions. When I saw Frost at Constellation on Halloween 2014, his searing, screaming jet-engine crescendos unfolded fractally into so many layers that the effort of following them all precluded any other conscious mental activity, and they reached such an obliterating volume that they could dissolve not just your ego but your sense of the boundaries of your body. Because my brain tortures me incessantly during my waking hours, I prize this kind of erasure above almost anything else—and when the PA system cut out just short of the set’s first peak, plunging the room into sudden silence, I felt like I’d been birthed into a metal bucket full of ice water. Frost remarked drily, “I feel like my mom just walked in on me.” When it kept happening, though, he stopped joking, and the crowd stopped finding anything funny about it. The Empty Bottle has hosted high-decibel shows by the likes of Tim Hecker and Sunn O))) without incident, however, so tonight’s performance should stay on the rails.
— Philip Montoro
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