Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water

from Theory of Machines by Ben Frost

  • 12" Vinyl + Download
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of Theory of Machines via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out


The title comes from the song “Dynamite” by Stina Nordenstam, and it pretty well encapsulates this piece’s sense of loss and resignation. Musically, Frost might borrow the darkness of a Nordenstam song, or its delicacy, but in this piece at least, the resemblance ends there. Unlike the formal balance of popular songwriting, with its alternation of verse, chorus, verse—or of most classical composition, with its discrete subsections—the structures of Frost’s music are gradual and continuous. It might be said that a given piece of music “tells a story” or “makes a case”; Ben rejects narrative and argument in favor of ceremony. His models are the music of composers like Arvo Pärt or Henryck Górecki, whose own inspiration is drawn from ancient modes of worship, and whose most famous compositions replace the traditional rhetoric or drama of musical form with something more like a litany.

What this means in practical terms is that the music develops according to simple procedures, unfolding slowly but in many layers. The minimalist harmonic movement of “Forgetting You…,” a Jacob’s-ladder of slowly rising scale against scale, is coupled with a glacial progression from icy synths to naked, tremulous acoustic instruments. The throbbing interference between pure, glacial synths is gradually overtaken by bona fide chamber music, the acoustic suddenly intimate enough to reveal tremulous bowing and delicate vibrato. The “beat” dissolves too, those slowly ticking drums that seems to hold the music back as much as they propel it.

In the music of Pärt, whose stated intention is to gesture towards infinity, the effect is often a distorted sense of time. So it is here. This movement is the longest piece on the record, and would be incredibly long for a piece of rock music, but it manages to seem longer still without ever becoming dull. It finds a perspective outside of time—as if collapsing a lifetime into just eleven minutes, or expanding a single moment’s emotional awakening out to symphonic length.

This is Ben Frost’s “Theory of Machines”: that music can be expressive without melody, without drama, without adornment of any kind; with only the simple, slow, inexorable progress of an elaborate formal mechanism.

— Notes © 2006 Daniel Johnson


from Theory of Machines, released March 1, 2007


all rights reserved



Ben Frost

The music of Ben Frost is about contrast; influenced as much by Classical Minimalism as by Punk Rock and Metal, Frost's throbbing guitar-based textures emerge from nothing and slowly coalesce into huge, forbidding forms that often eschew conventional structures in favor of the inevitable unfoldings of vast mechanical systems. ... more


contact / help

Contact Ben Frost

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this track or account

Ben Frost recommends:

If you like Ben Frost, you may also like: