BEN FROST – By The Throat

Bedroom Community

Overwhelmed by a tidal wave of magna cum laude exaltations of Frost’s previous CD – 2007’s Theory Of Machines – this writer had managed to swim away from all that groundless hype (that was a well-masked lightweight record, if you ask me). Exactly for this reason, the immediately perceivable artistic disparity established with By The Throat is astonishing, the words from the press release summing it up perfectly: “Where Theory Of Machines came sterilized in fluorescent light, By The Throat is blood red and cloaked in shadow”. Essentially, the latter is a commanding statement exuding personality via a power that could be described as “charismatic”, its legitimacy verified (six spins in a lone day are indeed telling) and indisputable.

Aided by a few collaborators – Amiina, Jeremy Gara, Crowpath and “Midas Touch” Nico Muhly – Frost kidnaps the audience with awe-inspiring environments in flawlessly structured sequences of events and dramatic changes of scenario, mixing the harsh and the nostalgic, the spectacular and the manipulated, the (menacingly) pastoral and the sheer hellish. The alternance of acoustic melodies and computerized deconstructions of reality is the most prominent feature, typifying the whole album. In particular, episodes such as the superb “Hibakúsja” (its evolving circularity a clear hint to typical Ennio Morricone modulations, and I would be very surprised should Frost declare that it was involuntary) and the second half of “Peter Venkman” represent the manifestation of the high degree of theatrical effectiveness a composer can reach by allowing personal sensibility and responsive alertness to peripheral influences to come in.

There’s some discrepancy between the blurb’s descriptions and the track numbers of the promo copy in my possession, so the sureness about certain selections’ title is not literal. Anyway – the wolves moaning and yelping at the beginning of “The Carpathians” are fantastic, the sense of isolation and anxiety generated by the above mentioned “Hibakúsja” practically touchable. The minimal piano patterns and the marvellous strings defining “Leo Needs A New Pair Of Shoes” put the listener in a somewhat misleading condition of respite, but you have to remember that after every relieving circumstance there’s always something bad behind the corner, waiting for pathetic illusions to rape; the howling beasts are still there, at the end of the piece, to remind everybody. The crucial ominousness of the conclusive “Through The Mouth Of Your Eye” is a memento of the kind of punch in the stomach from which ordinary people struggle to recover. It’s 5:00 AM as I write, next to 24 hours completely dedicated to the thorough analysis of a disc that punishes the distrust derived from my disliking of the preceding one. Make no mistake: By The Throat is made of excellent stuff, no ifs and buts. This time, the massive raving finds a justification. Nevertheless, regional “experts” should take notice: not all crunchy emissions are necessarily relatable to or influenced by Pan Sonic. Find a useful name to quote, use it for decades. That’s how it goes in the age of counterfeit knowledge.

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