When Benjamin Power – one half of electronic duo Fuck Buttons – started his Blanck Mass project in 2011, it took a form very different from its current shape . His self-titled debut album with the project was a shimmering collection of slow-moving drone, swimming in atmospheric twinkles.
Across two more albums (2015’s formative ‘Dumb Flesh’ and the teeth-bearing ‘World Eater’ two years later) Power has slowly but surely re-moulded Blanck Mass into a vehicle for powerful, seething electronica, and supplemented the changes with a live show that’s become formidable. On fourth record ‘Animated Violence Mild’, a torrent of apocalyptic noise and frightening urgency, it seems like he’s reached his final form.
A message from Power stating the album’s intentions and inspirations was shared upon its announcement. “In this post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves, we have manifested a serpent of consumerism which now coils back upon us,” he writes. “It seduces us with our own bait as we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world. We throw ourselves out of our own garden. We poison ourselves to the edges of an endless sleep. I believe that many of us have willfully allowed our survival instinct to become engulfed by the snake we birthed.” Stunningly, he’s managed to craft an album just as terrifying and grotesquely heavy as this statement sounds.
As an introduction leads into the appropriately titled opener ‘Death Drop’, a visceral, scything war chant begins – and doesn’t let up for the album’s duration. The intricate, playful ‘Hush House’ manages to team gargantuan drums with a twinkling lead synth line that could be from a nursery rhyme, while the storming lead line to ‘Love Is A Parasite’ is only a few steps away from a filthy rock song.
Then we get to ‘House vs. House’, maybe the best electronic song of the year. In just under eight minutes, Power transmits disgust, playfulness, elation and everything in between. A skittish vocal line is joined by anticipation-building ambient piano, before an enormous, euphoric synth line barges its way in, sounding like euro-trance if it were dragged through black sludge. The past eight years have seen Blanck Mass creep forwards to slowly become one of the UK’s most exciting experimental producers. ‘Animated Violence Mild’ is the pay-off, a fantastic, delirious soundtrack to our demise.