Iain Banks’ novel The Wasp Factory is a fairly brutal work to begin with, so just imagine what an operatic adaptation directed by famously intense sound artist Ben Frost might be like? This record contains Frost’s original soundtrack, where vocalists and a string ensemble are added to his usual palette of electronics. The Wasp Factory is released by Bedroom Community.
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The Wasp Factory is an operatic interpretation of an Iain Banks novel. Ben Frost is a composer. Let’s commission this composer to score this opera. This composer of dark walls of noise to make what is effectively a musical. What the fuck is going on?
Is this that one which he recorded some actual warfare for? Cuz that was weird. And not good weird. Creepy weird. And not good creepy weird. It’s as if A U R O R A wasn’t enough for Frost to tell us ‘hey, hey everyone, hey, i’m a scary bloke’, but here we are. Just a disclaimer, I’m not a huge fan of opera or musicals so this review really isn’t fair at all. But Norman Records, and therefore life, isn’t fair.
It’s a very impressive work though, especially since not many knew that he had this ability in him. The Wasp Factory is scored for voice, string quartet, and the noisy melodic electronics that we all know him for. There are silly moments like ‘I See You’ve Washed Your Hands Again’ that are outweighed by moments akin to the sorrowful, skilled ‘Death, No Less’. But I still can’t deal with the super-enunciated English words. Bloody words. They’re just too clear and full of life compared to the really closed-off moroseness of the strings and rumbling distorted synth. Each part is very well composed, just a bit jarring between some key elements.
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