• At Funkhaus Berlin / Photo by Alfredo Di Nardo (via Instagram)

THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD tour

Acclaimed Australian-Icelandic musician and sound designer Ben Frost released his fifth studio album, The Centre Cannot Hold, on Mute Records on 29 September 2017.
Coinciding with the release he embarked on an album tour featuring a new A/V show, created in collaboration with visual artist Marcel Weber aka MFO.

PRESS ON “THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD tour”

„Frost’s music is deeply affecting no matter what form it takes and Weber is one of the best immersive experience designers around. [..]
Frost walked on and [..] behind him, the curtain rippled like water. Onto this moving surface, Weber projected images of crashing waves and mesmeric blue mushroom clouds.” –
Ray Philp, Resident Advisor

„The visuals from MFO where a mesmerising mix of projections onto plastic stripes that made the illusion of lurex and liquified metal curtains.” – CLOT magazine

PAST PERFORMANCES

6th May 2017 – Donaufestival, Krems, AT
21th May 2017 – Unsound Dislocation x Mental Force, Minsk, BY
1st July 2017 – Astropolis Festival, Brest, FR
18th Sept 2017 – Ruhrtriennale, Essen, DE
4th Oct 2017 – Nemo Festival, Paris, FR
6th Oct 2017 – Funkhaus, Berlin, DE
13th Oct 2017 – Unsound Festival, Krakow, PL
18th Oct 2017 – Muziekgebouw, ADE, Amsterdam, NL
21th Oct 2017 – National Gallery, Lunchmeat Festival, Prague, CZ
29th Oct 2017 – FOS Festival, Athens, GR
1st Nov 2017 – Salon ISKV, Istanbul, TR
3rd Nov 2017 – C2C Festival, Turin, IT
11th Nov 2017 – Le Guess Who, Utrecht, NL
12nd Dec 2017 – Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon, PT

Ben and I started a conversation about the tour visual early on, his obsession was about the Ocean and the colour Blue.
I was quite excited working towards all the Ocean’s qualities; the churning sea, vast arena of dramatic weathers and clashing waves, tidal forces and streams, the water surface -permeable and translucent membrane between two worlds-, the deep-sea on the other side, its coldness, darkness and pressure, its liveliness in a bizarre undersea ecosystem. Taking it further also: fluidity, being adrift, the absence of static landmarks, disorientation and isolation, a realm of neverending motion. From a more contemporary point of view it is also a conflict zone, a separator between places, its cold symbolic for its dividing role.

Thinking of the sea surface I started researching for semi-transparent, glossy fabrics – scrims, foils, gauzes – for a stage design segmenting and obfuscating the setting. Initially heavy blue PVC sheets, known from cooling trucks or factory doors, seemed an interesting possibility. Those bear a certain brutality and could mask the stage, turn it into an obfuscated blue landscape with Ben as mysterious blurry figure within. Yet, he preferred to stay connected with his audience.
Eventually I focused on mirror foil for its metallic shine and picked one that is not only reflective, but also permeable for light! With it and with smoke as a diffusor the projections become volumetric and beams are broken, they shimmer, while strobe flashes shatter like churning waves; synergizing beautifully with the nervous shivering in Ben’s sound.

For heavier musical movements there are wind machines to move the foil and dramatically distort the reflections further. All stage effects (lights, smoke, wind, reflections) are controlled via custom-written software. Like in my other projects before: with the thought in mind to play the room like an instrument, in a visceral, intuitive fashion – truly performing an immersive journey.

For the video imagery I undertook trips to the North Sea: to the island of Heligoland and to Nørre Vorupør, on Denmark’s coast line, filming the spring storms of 2017. The footage is treated and processed heavily to yield an intense, entangling experience and to avoid a too obvious narrative.
In addition more abstracted footage was made in studio. Various custom-built tanks allowed the liquids to flow in controlled ways and camera and lights to look into it from defined vantage points. –m