May 31, 2010
Concert date: May 30, 2010
It took some time for the spasmodic aftershocks in my ear drums to recede; for reassuringly mundane thoughts to return having been obliterated by Ben Frost‘s set at the Luminaire last night. For nearly an hour Frost’s guitar and electronics invaded the space between my ears with sheets of grey noise, clearing the way for a sequence of rib cage-shaking subsonic pulses to attack my vital organs. Any concession to melody and harmony was quickly crushed. The noise owned all, including its listeners.
Frost’s uncompromising soundworld at times seems to channel the irregular heartbeat and asthmatic breathing of a planet in its dying throes. On reflection (an act not possible during the performance), its arresting, volcanic quality makes for a convenient analogy with the global paralysis caused by the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, Frost’s home since 2002 (he is Australian by birth).
It’s difficult to enjoy Ben Frost in a straightforward sense, but I guess that’s not the point. The point is to experience it and survive it, to abdicate your struggle and throw yourself into the avalanche.
The other acts on the bill were mere tremors, barely registering on the Richter scale by comparison. The flute/electronics and percussion/drums French duo of Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides conjured a form electroacoustic, improvised jazz that successfully created the otherworldly atmosphere required of the audience later on.
This spell was unfortunately slightly undone by London-based Teeth Of The Sea, whose Euro-industrial prog seemed a little too straight ahead, too clichéd even, to sustain the desired sense of detachment – despite the incongruous inclusion of a lead trumpet line, creating a not wholly successful Calexico-meets-Amon Düül II feel. It feels like Teeth Of The Sea need to be seen when they are creating the current, not swimming against the tide.