Blanck Mass' 'Animated Violence Mild' Critiques Excess with Excess

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Blanck Mass' Animated Violence Mild drops unrelenting electro-industrial melodies, practicing excess to explore personal grief and the global devastation of consumerism.

Animated Violence Mild
Blanck Mass

Sacred Bones

16 August 2019

Benjamin John Power, aka Blanck Mass and one half of Fuck Buttons, used 2018 as a time of creation and self-reflection. Coming off his acclaimed project World Eater, he spent the year further exploring his chaotic blend of electro-industrial, with noisy, powerful melodies, throttling beats, and distorted screams. Then, struck by a personal loss during the latter period of production, the concept of his latest album forced its way. Power's Animated Violence Mild drops unrelenting electro-industrial melodies, practicing excess to explore personal grief and the global devastation of consumerism.

Power refers to consumerism as the "the snake we birthed", a serpent we have let grow and roam to our detriment. And just as our learned desire for excess can never be satiated, Animated Violence Mild engages in an endless chase for excessive noise and melody. Power's circling tracks begin and end like a snake that coils upon itself. "Death Drop" uses iteration after iteration of the opening power synth melody, imbuing a plastic, repackaged ecstasy with every arpeggio sequence.

Similarly, "Love Is a Parasite" sticks to a melodic foundation while alternating from theatrical breakdowns, melodramatic piano interludes to blissed-out, synthetic rushes. While each melody begins as a spectacle, every repetition peels away layers of vigor to eventually uncover repressed grief. In this way, Power thoughtfully uses excess as a tool for reflecting upon and dismantling the affectations of consumerism.

Surprisingly, in an album full of furious electro-industrial music, there are a couple of pop-adjacent cuts. "No Dice" slightly turns down the noise and pace to lay the foundations for a pop banger. Power brings together catchy vocal cuts, slamming percussions, and dramatic synth hits to create the '80s tinged experimental pop song. Perhaps, this modern, maximalist rendering of '80s synthpop tropes may call for a feature from a pop vocalist like Charli XCX or Dorian Electra, but regardless, it is an essential aesthetic switch amidst the surrounding noise.

Even more, "House vs. House" could pass at an EDM festival with its anthemic synth lines, processed pop vocals, and thrusting beat. Yet, even as these popular tropes dominate the track, it does not truly cross into the mainstream. Rather, Power remains conscious of his use of these commodified sounds. His blatantly excessive use of uplifting synths and clap-inducing build-ups almost satirize the culture industry that is EDM, creating a spectacle of recycled electronic sounds.

Often, personal grief can choke perspectives, limiting lamentation to inward battles. However, personal grief is always attached to broader consequences, and Animated Violence Mild is a project that confronts it all. Power's excessive pursuit for melodic ecstasy speaks to the careless game of consumerism. While we chase after the quick gratification, we mindlessly step over the ever-mounting consequences of exploitative labor and environmental degradation.

As Power says, "In this post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves, we have manifested a serpent of consumerism which now coils back upon us". Animated Violence Mild and its spinning melodies reflect upon the consequences of this snake, that is the undeniable interconnections between personal grief and global devastation.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.