Ben Frost

Scope Neglect

Release Notes

Label: Mute
Released: January 11, 2024

When I sat down to write about the latest release by Ben Frost, I promised myself to only focus on the present, avoiding my own perceptions of the past. But as the first track comes on once again, I can’t help but marvel at the unique strand of sound that can only be that of Ben Frost, having peeled himself apart from “all that other music” long ago. To this day, my favourite albums by this Melbourne-born and now Reykjavik-based artist include his earlier works, starting with Steel Wound on Room40 and moving on to Theory Of Machines and By The Throat, released on Bedroom Community. Let’s just say that everything this man has touched appeared on these pages, or at least in my rotations, including his ballet, film, videogame and TV series work (especially the soundtrack to the German Netflix series Dark). I am thrilled about his global recognition and the inevitable attention from the film industry, but just as with my many other favourite artists (e.g. Jóhann Jóhannsson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Hauschka), I feel a little selfish, desiring more solo and studio albums from them, rather than the lucrative scores directed by another. So, when at last (!) we get an album from Ben Frost, his first in six years since The Centre Cannot Hold, I jump around like a kid at Christmas.

Everything on Scope Neglect has that metal “frosty” feel, from the punchy guitar riffs echoed by the kick drum (courtesy of the guitarist Greg Kubacki and bassist Liam Andrews) to the beautiful distortion of the prickly armadillo crawling on your naked back to the atmospheric, sprawling soundscapes that leave you feel highly vulnerable to the inevitable ending that awaits us all.  This is a visceral, intuitive, and primordial music – like all of that emotion that may drown your grief, frustration and anger during primal scream therapy sessions. You get all of that repressed pain of a trauma out. You get to slam your fist into that wall and, long at last, break through.

In the sonic crucible of Ben Frost’s Scope Neglect, music undergoes a metamorphic alchemy. From the album’s opening seconds, the familiar aural chemistry of metal is immediately untethered, isolated in the vacuum, stripped of its cultural trappings and heavy armory, and loaded into a particle accelerator.

Released via the revered Mute Records, Frost’s latest opus is a striking exploration of sound that defies the conventional boundaries of genre and form. Exactly as he endlessly intends it. Scope Neglect is a work that seeks not just to be heard but to be experienced, inviting us to perceive all that is left unseen and feel all that is left untouched. In this intricate and cyclic dance of the creation and destruction, Frost asks us to listen deeply, beyond the surface, to the soundscapes of oblivion and rebirth. This record is a total must, especially if you are lucky to find it on a limited edition white vinyl. If not, there’s always a black LP, as well as a digital and compact disc. Highly recommended!