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Composer Ben Frost's fifth album, The Centre Cannot Hold, was recorded over 10 days by Steve Albini in Chicago. The music exists not in space, but in a space; it's a document of an event, of a room, and of the composer within it. It's music that is not fully controlled and appears to be anxiously, often violently competing against its creator. It's an attempt to materialize a kind of liquid music. Frost - an artist whose command of sound design lies at the heart of his practice - chooses a new kind of raw immediacy and directness in his work. Focusing solely on the performance of his music he hands the reigns of the studio recording process to Albini in relentless pursuit of Theseus' paradox; the question of whether a ship restored by replacing every single part remains the same ship.
The Centre Cannot Hold is not a literal description of the current political climate. But the music has arisen out of a period of global upheaval which the title inevitably alludes to. Taken from W.B. Yeats' poem The Second Coming, it reads: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blooddimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned..." The titles of many of the pieces on the album – "All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated," "Trauma Theory," and "Entropy in Blue" – could channel that feeling. "Ionia" wants to pull us directly into the seas of southern Europe and "Eurydice's Heel" references a Greek myth in which a single event unleashes a sequence of unstoppable tragedies.
The Centre Cannot Hold is a probing question as much as a statement of fact. An exercise in limitation and chromatic saturation, it's an attempt at transcribing a spectrum of glowing ultramarines into sound. It forbids casual engagement, but rather seeks to engulf those who encounter it.