Ben Frost’s New Immersive Soundcloud

Does it really define the music we know?

People define music of their rhythms, melodies, and harmonies in rock, jazz, or classical repertoire. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, they are also defined as “the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession.” They define it using examples of music in pop culture, but this is going to change. Recently, on September 29, 2017, an album published by Mute; Ben Frost features The Centre Cannot Hold, a new release from a less known yet prolific music genre of experimental electronic music with 87 recorded concert lists and tour dates as of October 8th( Listening to the album, he may break boundaries of both of those definitions in their music, but they don’t redefine music. Music enthusiasts used to think that music can be abstract in definition, but recently reviewers of this album suggest that the definition is not a factor.

Experimental rock is an interesting label to put on an album. According to AllMusic, they describe in their 2017 article “Experimental Electronic”, that experimental electronic music to be a “broad designation” of all of the types of electronic music. It came as early as electronic dance music took it’s place in the 80s, and it was to explore different textures of sound. Ben Frost, an Australian electronic artist and director, is known in IMDb for making “structural sound art with militant post-classical electronic music.” In other words, it gives the feeling of organized, yet abstract textures of sound that fuses with structured music after the birth of electronic dance. This gives the audience a sense of what Ben Frost offers in his music; structured sounds need to be ordered which lead back to the definition of the “science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession”, which doesn’t redefine music; It is essentially a homage to the definition.

According to a Patric Fallon 2017 Pitchfork review, “Ben Frost: The Centre Cannot Hold”, he describes the creative process that leads to the release of the album. Frost and Brian Eno, as they partnered for the year of 2010, Eno tweaked the music using “. . .tape loops, samples, and generative systems” fit within Frost’s “. . . field recording and software to extreme degrees”. This states that Eno filled what Frost was missing, and no doubt this would have an influence on his new release 7 years later. By extreme degree, Fallon most likely meant that the music reaches outside of the norm. This doesn’t redefine music, because it just uses the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of music into an extensive manner. It may break boundaries of music in pop culture, but it could not possibly change the backbone definition of music.

There have been claims of the music redefining it in some way. “Ben Frost focuses on what most would consider the cracks or mistakes in modern production . . . and amplifies them to sculpt his own unique sound world”, in a 2017 Exclaim article under the name of Peter Ellman. Ellman states that Frost uses a process which uses the past’s unneeded parts and implement it in his new album. This can potentially change the way we can define music, because these blips of “buzzing, hissing, feedback, and distortion” doesn’t really fall into the category of music as it is known to be. However this process can’t match the true motive of Frost, Ellman gives his point that the music has a melodic side to it while he was explaining Frost’s abrupt shifts in his opening track. He states, “These abrupt shifts prevent Frost’s melodic side from settling in too comfortably.” This means that his music does fit into the definition of having melody leading straight to my point.

According to earbuddy, under the author of NK, a 2017 review was written with the same counter-point yet for different reasons. They point out that the album is considered by Ben Frost as an event rather than an album (NK). In other words, it gives the listener a sense of cinematography of sounds, other than the use of different songs compiled and published as a mixed bag like most musical albums. This can be redefining, because it does not actually describe music in terms of melody or harmony or rhythms. However, what NK doesn’t realize is the fact that melody, harmony and rhythm can be compromised by the art or science of ordering tones or sounds in succession. Common knowledge among philosophers and listeners among Wikipedia, state that “Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements [of melody, harmony, and rhythm].” This means that the elements of music can be omitted at any time, therefore Frost’s album doesn’t redefine music.

Music is a platform of art, and what we define as art is good enough as a backbone to all types. Whether it is electronic, pop, metal, jazz, or rock, it is almost impossible to change the observations we had for music in decades. I think of some factors like samples and extreme layering of software, to be an extension to the definition of music. Just merely an accent to the overall picture. Whether Peter Elman or NK gives hints of a change, the point he makes is just an addition to the overall understanding, as well as the allowance of omitting such needed elements of music. People defining that music has these elements in rock, jazz, or classical repertoire, music as a definition layers up from there.

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