A U R O R A is primal and thrilling, a pitch black lair in which a vicious electronic entity stalks its unstable ecosystem looking for its next victim. Pounding drums throb against the metallic structures of old, only just managing to keep the rhythms at bay. A toxic, synthetic substance runs through the music and into its veins. The thick, muscular beats can’t be contained, let alone quarantined. Harmonic ghosts are always close at hand, but they are cloaked in a waterproof layer of tight, suffocating static. A U R O R A is always on the move, glinting malevolently as it runs around the track, something that is incapable of love but rocks the very foundations with its thunderous power.
Ben Frost’s electronic music is electric. A U R O R A is incendiary, which is what we have come to expect from the Australian. In some ways, the ensuing carnage can come across as predictable, but the brutal power of it nonetheless catches you off-guard. Danger is present throughout. Take the opener ‘Flex’, which drones quietly with its faint siren, indicating some kind of evacuation. Escaping is useless; a racing heartbeat kicks into life and the flared sound of a jet engine leaves its tracks all over the music, scorching the rest of A U R O R A with its flammable after-burn. The pumping heartbeat is fuelled by adrenaline and anticipation, with the speed and the momentum of a predator honing in on the kill. This is just the first track, propulsive and yet capable of stalking its prey intelligently until the perfect moment presents itself. That moment arrives two and a half minutes later, when ‘Nolan’ fires into life. Red-blooded synths snake their way through the harmonic caves, pounded by the vibrations of a steady beat.
A U R O R A drills into the skull, the beats used as a weapon. Frost dives into a dynamic descent, making the harder edged tracks louder than they appear. ‘The Teeth Behind Kisses’ is hardly there, stuck on the border of existence and looking to hitch a ride back to the electronic afterlife. It knows, deep down, that things cannot be the same again; the track suffers from the static of tinnitus and grinds into the music like a decaying sweet tooth against the jaw. Like a virus, it comes back harder than ever, shattering the hope with a rhythmic assault. Like something carried out by a special forces team, the track is well honed, incredibly detailed and meticulous in its planning. It executes with perfection, as if the beats were really ninjas.
A U R O R A is a sonic onslaught that is simultaneously a shameless rush and an insight into the behaviour of an intelligent, if somewhat psychotic, beast. It’s unforgiving music that lives on the verge, taking no prisoners. The static-heavy screams work it out with thumping drums. It is the incessant rhythm that holds the cold, calculating mind from taking violent action; the cold eyes are restrained and contained, but only just. Frost’s creativity is unleashed, creating a cold, often frightening place, one lost on the grid, somewhere in the near future.
Electronic melodies frazzle against the rhythm, grinding its wheels into the terminal of the music with a merciless friction. Blackened inside, the drums clang like rusty steel bars, or sticks used to beat the dirt. They have a subtle, tin-like quality to them that hints at the primitive tool. Countering this is a slab of futuristic synth, glowing radiantly with its repeating, hovering lines. It rises to a deafening roar, like a fighter jet waiting for clearance. The engine is then unexpectedly punctured by near-silence, and the dynamics keep you on your toes. The hushed breath against the neck is just as intense as the loudest moment. At breakneck speed, ‘Venter’ twists itself through the rhythmic labyrinth, like a Hollywood hot pursuit. The brighter bells pull the track away from the hard concrete of the beat without sacrificing its punch, which is capable of winding the bravest listener. Stomping beats seem intent on wounding the harmony if it gets too close, and the static-shrouded harmony doesn’t stay around for long.
Like a marine who was once well regarded and highly equipped but has of late been relieved of his duties due to disciplinary issues, the music is militarised and loaded with cold ammunition but lazes with impromptu acts of venomous disregard and ultimately crosses the line with its wild behaviour. A U R O R A is exciting, but with this excitement comes a harsh warning; it’s music that conquers as it crumbles, and its kiss masks the salivating fangs behind its lips.