|Blanck Mass — Dumb Flesh|
Blanck Mass — Dumb Flesh • Je to volte–face of album s ohromující ambicí a zatímco u nováčků (a dlouhodobých posluchačů podobně) lze očekávat, že na něm budou ujíždět přes čáru dnem i nocí, Benjamin si zachovává suverénní moc nad zvuky, je pevný jako skála a stojí v něm neochvějně na nohou bez kolísání po celou stopáž. Co má s albem udělat hladovějící gurmán? Usměj se na něj a pak ho pořádně zbičuj!
• Podobné projekty: Black Dice, Boredoms, Mogwai.
• Blanck Mass is the solo project of Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power, who recorded and produced an album’s worth of songs in his London apartment in 2010.
• “We are at the mercy of our genetic heritage every day. No matter how intelligent we are compared to other life forms, we’re still made up of the same building blocks and things can go very wrong.”
• “THE ONE LAST THING WE CAN DO IS TO TREAT THE MACHINES AS AN EXTENSION OF OUR HUMANITY.” — Benjamin Power
Formed: 2010 in London, England
Location: London, England, UK
Album release: MAY 12, 2015
Record Label: SACRED BONES RECORDS
FORMATS: DIGITAL, VINYL, CD
1 Loam 4:07
2 Dead Format 6:16
3 No Lite 9:57
4 Atrophies 5:08
5 Cruel Sport 8:43
6 Double Cross 5:38
7 Lung 5:29
8 Detritus 8:15
℗ 2015 Sacred Bones Records
BY NINA CORCORAN ON MAY 05, 2015, 6:01AM; SCORE: B
• Benjamin John Power lucked out on his last name. The electronic drone musician founded Fuck Buttons in 2004 alongside Andrew Hung and they immediately began cultivating their combination of minimal techno and post–rock noise. With such intense music, his last name fit. In between 2009’s Tarot Sport and 2013’s Slow Focus, Power peeled away for some alone time. He shrouded himself in the ambient work of his new solo moniker, Blanck Mass, for 2011’s self–titled, and his name fit him yet again. Power has a hold over his listeners with both the dark techno and minimal electronic releases tied to his name. On his sophomore full–length, Dumb Flesh, Power crafts his strongest material, but he could have used another hand.
• Dumb Flesh burps with intense shards from a science lab’s secret project. “Lung”, the album’s most peaceful track, is a soothing take — that is, until you listen closely. Beneath the soothing rolls come the indecipherable human sounds of either a woman’s sexual moans or the confused vocal question marks of a baby. It’s all about how cloaking something makes it more horrifying. For eight–minute closer “Detritus”, that means masking its great beast in gritty noise drone for several minutes before unveiling an actual beat. Suddenly, it changes completely. The track has morose synth pumped into its veins, shifting the focus into something more lucid and unnevering, haunted by the cloudy vocals of Rob Lowe of Om. It’s all surprisingly accessible. Even the noise punk groove of “Cruel Sport” is crafted for the club.
• Blanck Mass appeared to be Power’s chance to escape the twisted electronics of Fuck Buttons, but on Dumb Flesh he returns to it. The glitering slosh of “Hellion Earth” or the unconscious morphine of “Chernobyl” in years past were Power executing his ambient side. He meticulously shaped the point at which the emotional paths converge on his songs, an effort many ambient acts fail to focus on, under the impression that a held note can speak for itself, finding a purpose amidst subtleties. That ambient solo debut was so touching that the spiritual “Sundowner” made a surprising appearance at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Dumb Flesh could have its place in the next Olympics, but only in two ways: if the stadium collapses in a tragic, perverse image of beauty, or if all its players replace motivational music with a private score of perseverance through unrelenting pain, the true soundtrack of their body.
• He’s unapologetic about changing paths. “Dead Format”, an inky, melodic roil of noise, is a mirror image of Fuck Buttons’ past. It smashes open like the distorted lo–fi crackle of the final boss round in an NES videogame, blasting with the heat and burnt color of Crystal Castles’ (III). It sounds like the warped remains of a sour John Carpenter track, which, given the two are now labelmates, may not be that far of a stretch.
• The album is vivid between shadows, pulsing with the diseased blood of a body slowly losing its motivation to carry on. Had Power pushed himself to soundtrack this deconstruction through the minimalist nature of his quiet work, though, Dumb Flesh could have been fully realized. There’s room for cuts within the chillwave “Atrophies” and late era–Mogwai “Double Cross”. Perhaps it’s because he began recording in Fuck Buttons’ studio or because the windowless attic he retreated to afterwards cut off his view of nature and outerspace. It holds together well within the confines of its double–LP release, but had Power tackled these with his bandmate, he might’ve been able to cover more ground.
Essential Tracks: “Dead Format”, “Detritus”, and “Cruel Sport”
Contact: Dave Cronen / Trust Management — email@example.com
CLASHMUSIC / REVIEWS / 29 · 04 · 2015 · SCORE: 7/10
Words: Joe Rivers
• Hell has probably never needed a soundtrack to play whilst the fires of eternal damnation are being stoked by pointy–tailed red dudes, but on the off–chance it does, we may have just found it.
• 'Dumb Flesh' is the latest offering from Fuck Buttons' side–project Blanck Mass and a truly nightmarish tone runs throughout. Fuck Buttons are hardly known for their radio–friendly jams, but the white noise, uncompromising textures and punishing percussion that underpin Benjamin John Power's record take things to the next level.
• Rarely has a record built up such an evocative landscape through sound — 'Dumb Flesh' is a thrilling yet unsettling listen, and further proof that innovative and exciting ambient music continues to come from the Fuck Buttons stable.
• It would be wrong to say that this is an enjoyable album, but it is rewarding in its own way. Be warned, you might never want to leave the house again. ••••• http://www.clashmusic.com/
WRITTEN BY CHRIS KELLY ON SUNDAY, APRIL 26 2015
• Long Live The Dumb Flesh: Blanck Mass on the body’s limits, going modular and remixing John Carpenter.
• From its evocative title to its even more evocative cover to — ultimately — its sound, its clear that Blanck Mass has changed on Dumb Flesh.
• Blanck Mass is the solo project of Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power, and Dumb Flesh is miles away from his eponymous 2011 debut album under the moniker. Abstract cover art has given way to a gnarled mass of flesh, and his grand, classical–inspired soundscapes have become noisy, industrial and arguably more in line with his Fuck Buttons output.
• Overall, the focus of Blanck Mass has shifted from the abstract and the cosmological to the concrete and physiological, with machine–made menace and rough–edged, bleeding–red electronics illustrating more visceral concerns.
• “I went through a lot of change during the process of making of this album,” Power explains over Skype. “A lot of stuff happened in my life; I lived in three different places during the time the making took place. There were a lot of times that I came back and looked at things with a fresh perspective.”
• While he is intentionally vague about incidents that occurred in the intervening years, one experience seems to inform the album: dealing with a herniated disc that prevented him from walking for weeks, and the resulting pinched nerve that has caused a lasting numbness in his right thumb.
• “It’s an amazing schematic we have, but it’s also not so great most of the time,” he laughs. “We’re not effectively evolved to be walking around all the time; we’re not supposed to be bipedal — we should be running around on all fours gathering berries and nuts. Instead, we sit around in front of computers.”
• But rather than raging against our desk–bound existence, Power faces the present/future with optimism. “The one last thing we can do is to treat the machines as an extension of our humanity.” That cybernetic approach manifested itself on Dumb Flesh as he finally took the plunge down the “rabbit hole” of the modular synthesizer, exploring the nearly limitless possibilities of his new gear in a “fun way with no set plan.”
• “If you don’t use a manual and approach a piece of equipment in a naive sense, you come across happy accidents,” he explains. “You grow to know that piece of equipment, and it’s a very honest, personal relationship with a piece of equipment. If you pick up the manual, you’re adapting someone else’s approach.”
• “Since I started to work with [modular] stuff, I feel like I understand things a little better, but it is a blessing and a curse,” he admits. “I will spend hours and hours and hours trying to create a sound in my head, where before it was a case of trial and error — deciding to use what I came across accidentally, almost impulsively.”
• “I still have a lot to learn, and it makes me feel like I’m just starting, which is a lovely way to feel,” he says. “I couldn’t ask for more. Part of the journey is the discovery; I’m excited.” Along with leaving him refreshed, the new gear has also has contributed to the difference in sound between Blanck Mass and Dumb Flesh.
• “The comparison there is going to be made because the first album was largely ambient, with no percussion at all except for some rhythmic synth,” he acknowledges. “But I do feel that the process was pretty much identical — I was just playing with a different set of tools and this is what happened.”
• Even as he admits that Blanck Mass was a “largely ambient” record (we’ll save you the Power ambient puns), he seems uncomfortable with the designation. “You wouldn’t necessarily classify classical as ambient, but you do so with electronic music that sits in a similar place.”
• “There were certainly nods to ambient — Ariel Kalma and all that older ambient stuff, maybe the later end of the Kraut stuff — but I don’t really see it as ambient,” he says. “I see it as more classical, if there’s a way for me to say that without sounding like an asshole. That was my intention for the first record, at least: something that was essentially a classical record. But I didn’t have a full string section or a horn section, so I had to find my way on my own.”
• Finding his own way has meant not doing the same thing twice. “I think it’s so easy when someone is in a comfortable place to stay there,” he says. “You see it all the time: someone who finds their sound and sticks with it, and you know what you’re getting. That doesn’t excite me. I want to be surprised and surprise myself, even if it sounds bad, or is a complete departure from the last thing. That’s the bravest thing you can do.”
• In kind, a new Blanck Mass album means a new home: while Blanck Mass was released (appropriately) on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records, Dumb Flesh is due out on Sacred Bones. The macabre Brooklyn imprint is a natural fit.
• “I appreciate what Sacred Bones does. Caleb [Braaten] is a very good friend; he has a really good idea of what he wants and his heart is in it. Aesthetically, I think it’s a good fit, even if it’s different for them; it’s definitely more of a dance record. There’s an underlying — I hate to say it — darkness within this album, and there is a lot of darkness and beauty on that label.”
• “I love Depeche Mode, and if you look at it from that kind of place, there’s a darkness and a melancholy, which I’m a huge sucker for: finding comfort in a not so friendly place is something that always inspires me. In that world, Sacred Bones is on top.” Dumb Flesh sits nicely next to records by Zola Jesus, David Lynch, Pharmakon, Cult of Youth and others, but its closest companion may be the label’s latest release: John Carpenter’s Lost Themes.
• “There’s no way that I can deny that John Carpenter has been a huge influence for me throughout my career,” he admits. “You can tell if something is John Carpenter a mile away: he has a sense of panic I don’t think I really get from anything else.” Coming full circle, the deluxe edition of Lost Themes features a Blanck Mass remix of ‘Fallen’. All electronic producers “owe a little bit to Carpenter,” he says. “Remixing him was a little bit of a childhood dream.” ••••• http://www.factmag.com/
ALBUM REVIEW BY DARREN CARLE. PUBLISHED 29 APRIL 2015. SCORE: *****
|Blanck Mass — Dumb Flesh|