Music

Blanck Mass: World Eater

Blanck Mass' World Eater is a humongous, terrifying slab of electronic noise and a party record for the apocalypse.

World Eater
Blanck Mass

Sacred Bones

3 March 2017

Blanck Mass 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. And while there are shifts in pace, tone, and dynamic in this music, it's really only a relative change. At its calmest, World Eater is as intense as someone like Trent Reznor ever got. Its most danceable tracks hit harder than anything produced by Skrillex. And yet it contains a connection to a pastoral beauty that might be a result from Power's recent move to a village outside Edinburgh, Scotland.

The opening track, "John Doe's Carnival of Error" eases us in with a repetitive chiming figure before rapidly accelerating into a fast four-on-the-floor crescendo where chopped vocals and synths cascade before abruptly stop before reaching a proper release. "John Doe's" surprise ending is representative for World Eater which, both in inspiration and content, is meant to reflect the anger, violence, confusion, and frustration of our time. Despite its intensity, there's always a sense of control that Power infuses into the music; we aren't hearing an artist or his work go off the rails here. Instead, Power streamlines these conflicting and painful feelings into something much more manageable and cathartic. It's not so much a documentation of a process, but rather a complete thought from a man who clearly considers his material.

The second track, "Rhesus Negative", is one of the album's high points. The double-time percussion8 wouldn't be out of place on a death metal record, and its screaming vocal snippets sound like they're lifted from the Locust. But Power counteracts these elements with tinkling melodic passages that are reminiscent of Danny Elfman's soundtrack work in their spectral whimsy. "Please" runs Burial's dubstep through Power's practice, but, as engaging as the song can be for its majority, it ultimately falters due to its repetition, which feels more redundant than emotive. Thankfully, it's the only lacking track on the album.

Much stronger is "The Rat" which sounds like a powerful Nine Inch Nails instrumental due to its catchy melody and heavy, thudding drums that are strip-mined from Kanye's "Black Skinhead". Another highpoint is "Silent Treatment", which might be Power's most expressive use of vocal samples on the entire record -- the main recurring element being a choral sample that calls to mind Art of Noise's class "Moments in Love". Power's song structure and arrangement here are impeccable: at its peak, the song uses repeating arpeggios, accenting synth stabs, and other vocal samples of "ugh" and "ah" as percussion. It's also the album's dreamiest song -- the apex of violence and beauty meeting.

Power's triptych "Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked" moves from noisy, squelching synths to field recordings of a waterfall and, finally, a muffled piece of pop with gated drum reverb that makes it seem like a forgotten tune from decades ago. As a whole, it's a fascinating piece, and a great palette cleanser for the album-closing "Hive Mind", which reignites the melodic power of "Silent Treatment." It's probably the album's most dancefloor-ready track with an undulating bass line and vocal warping, which Power deftly guides with his rippling synths till the song hits a powerful crescendo with cut-up screeching vocals.

By the album's end, the listener is altered from continued exposure to Power's work -- everything else you'll hear soon after will sound like children's music. While there are thrills to be had with the sheer rush of the powerful music contained here, the greater sense of conflict that Power documents in his outward looking opus is the real success of the record.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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