Release Date: Mar 3, 2017
Record label: Sacred Bones
In a recent interview, Benjamin John Power, one half of the duo Fuck Buttons and a solo artist recording under the name Blanck Mass, described his latest full-length World Eater as "pure unadulterated countryside." It's not the most unusual characterization for an album of electronic music, as that could be easily applied to the more pastoral moments by artists like The Orb and Boards of Canada. For Power's work, it's an almost radical statement considering the dense, futuristic soundscapes he cultivated on his self-titled 2011 release and the imposing grind of 2015's Dumb Flesh. His commentary about the record is really an attempt to shift the listener's focus.
Without access to any effective weapons they lure it into the foundry's molding facility, where they expose the alien first to molten lead and then to freezing water, the violent shift between the extremes causing the creature to shatter and explode. There's much the same impact listening to World Eater, the third album from Ben Power's Blanck Mass . Across seven tracks and fifty minutes it alternates from battery to caress, caustic noise tag-teaming with melancholic ambience and drawn, distended vocals, the even numbers a bloody fist of violence and abrasion that the odd ones can't quite soothe away.
Benjamin John Power has always been typecast as one of the nice guys of noise. With Fuck Buttons, he's played sun-worshipping primitivist, screamadelic raver, and something close to arena rocker on 2013's Slow Focus. His solo project Blanck Mass maintains similar posi-vibes while working within mesmeric repetition and industrial dance. At the current moment, however, it may be hard to find much truth in "Okay, Let's Talk About Magic" and "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" (both 2008 Fuck Buttons titles).
World Eater is a product, says Ben Power, AKA Blanck Mass, of the past year. His third album is a response to a period "teeming with violence, confusion and frustration," realised through the noisy industrial dance for which he's known. "The title," he says, "is a reference to the inner beast inside human beings that, when grouped en masse, stops us from moving forward towards good." The music on the Fuck Buttons member's latest album is as volatile as all that suggests.
Just in case there were any doubts that electronic music can have as much of a political voice as other genres, Blanck Mass silences them with World Eater. Inspired by the shock and upheaval that surrounded Brexit and other nationalist political movements that emerged in 2016, Benjamin John Power transforms furious noise, drones, and the surprisingly danceable elements of Dumb Flesh into vivid portraits of division and turmoil that sound big enough to engulf a planet and intricate enough to consume it from within. Power has always excelled at pitting sonic extremes against each other, but these contrasts have rarely sounded as meaningful -- or disorienting -- as they do on World Eater, where wildly divergent elements sit next to each other like red and blue states and collide with each other in fascinating ways.
Benjamin John Power became prominent as one of the co-founders of electronic noise giants Fuck Buttons. With the release of 2008's debut Street Horrrsing and 2009's superb Tarot Sport, his work with bandmate Andrew Hung quickly and easily placed them on top of the lists of artists to watch and the albums among the best releases of their respective years. With three full-length albums and songs featured on the 2012's Summer Olympics in London, it became clear Fuck Buttons had achieved a solid place and status within the industry.
Since forging his own lone path away from Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power has consistently delivered chunky slabs of grotesque electronica and shadowy experimentalism. Third LP, 'World Eater' speaks as a playful foretelling of the coming apocalypse, where trademark stormy synths meet glitchy samples in a chaotic collision. Like the evil twin of Clarence Clarity that joined a particularly nasty cult.
Despite having built a compelling career in experimental electronic duo Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power has spent most of his work under his solo moniker, Blanck Mass, exploring polar extremes: his 2011 self-titled LP demonstrated ambient leanings, while second effort Dumb Flesh was a more rapturous affair. New album World Eater is a different animal entirely. Baring its teeth at you right from the cover art, it's a scattered, wide-reaching genre exploration, setting out on a mission to envelope the zeitgeist as it voraciously rips up the landscape with the urgency of a bloodthirsty carnivore.
Blanck Mass’s World Eater is a party record for the apocalypse Blanck Mass's new album World Eater is gargantuan as each song feels like it could soundtrack a warship floating in the sky. The size and scale of the compositions here shouldn't be a surprise when you consider that Blanck Mass is the solo recording project of Benjamin John Power, who alternately makes music with Andrew Hung under the name Fuck Buttons. Like Fuck Buttons, Blanck Mass makes music in which everything is mixed and pitched into extremity.
The truism about side projects is that it they offer an outlet for the ideas which 'don't work' for the main band, and that's a truism which largely holds true with Blanck Mass. The music which Benjamin John Power makes under this name is unmistakably the product of one half of Fuck Buttons, but with some tell-tale differences; distinctions which are mainly found in structure rather than sound. The obvious overlap between both outfits is the wall of electronic noise.
As half of Fuck Buttons, Ben Power makes a smooth, but nonetheless bonkers version of dark electronica. But as Blanck Mass he's always presented a rawer sound. While his third full-length looks to take that to an extreme, compared to his recent live shows, it falls just slightly flat. Admittedly Power can still shred a sample or sound until it loses all sense of reality, and has grown skilled at making otherwise foreign sounds - particularly vocals - feel familiar.
F uck Buttons's Ben Power certainly doesn't appear to think that what the world needs now is love, sweet love. His third album as Blanck Mass, we learn, is intended to represent "a previous year teeming with anger, violence, confusion and frustration", and as the nine minutes of Rhesus Negative unfold hyperkinetically, a treated voice somewhere very deep in the mix conveying some nameless dread, it does feel as if one is being smacked repeatedly around the head with an analogue synth, albeit in a good way. Thrilling though it is, it's genuinely a relief that it's followed by Please, which turns the treadmill back to walking pace and introduces more recognisably human elements (and is perhaps one of the expressions of love Power says the record contains - though you'd be ill-advised to go courting with it as your theme tune).