Blanck Mass : World Eater

Benjamin John Power’s Blanck Mass is the kind of musical project that is unforgiving in its need to evolve. He pushes the boundaries of what you thought electronic music was supposed to be. Much like Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never, Power takes the canvas of electronic and experimental music and pushes the boundaries; painting on the floor, walls, ceiling, and whatever surface he can find. In 2015 Power curated a project as Blanck Mass called Blanck Mass Presents The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears. On it, he along with several other electronic and experimental artists reimagined the soundtrack to the 2013 giallo film of the same name. It’s an uncompromising piece of work, and one that opened my eyes to what Power could do on such a large scale.

On his third full-length as Blanck Mass, titled World Eater, Power explodes his sound into a technicolor affair that goes from mind-altering noise expanses to more restrained and cultivated sounds. It goes from eye-opening world music vibes to industrial crush in the course of a song. It might just be the best Blanck Mass yet.

Let’s start with “Please”, which arrives three songs in. Oneohtrix Point Never comes to mind at first, but there’s no aping anyone’s sound going on. The use of vocals and big synth tones brings to mind Lopatin’s big turn on 2015s Garden Of Delete, but Blanck Mass have a sound all their own, and it meshes well with the world music vibes on this stellar track. “Rhesus Negative”, the song that preceds “Please”, is a teeth-rattling noise bomb of industrial proportion. It’s like Wax Trax! meets Creation Records in a beautiful explosion of violence and beauty. “The Rat” sounds like Pretty Hate Machine as a marching band competition piece. There’s something triumphant and regal about this song, which makes you want to crank it and march proudly through the neighborhood. “Minnesota/Eas Fors/Naked” is buzzing noise and plotting tension. It sounds like static coming through some chrome-covered receiver as something slowly rises from underneath all of it. It’s reminiscent of the work he did on the Strange Colour soundtrack at the beginning. Slowly things begin to clear up to reveal twinkling synths and an end that sounds like some aged 80s synth pop track. “Hive Mind” sounds like a huge club track, but done up in Power’s liquid production. It’s a stunning finish to a stunning album.

Blanck Mass live by the “go big or go home” motto. Each time out Benjamin John Power pushes the sonic edges of his music to incorporate something new while bending it to his will. While his work with Fuck Buttons was similar in pushing their sound, Power seems to move a little smoother and with more ease when he’s wearing the Blanck Mass hat. World Eater is his best record yet, opening the sound up and letting in a bit of house, techno, industrial, experimental, and pretty much you name it. Benjamin John Power brings you right into Blanck Mass’ world, and it’s a visceral experience.

8.1 out of 10

A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Kill

Ever since Mondo and Death Waltz Recording Company have joined forces like some sort of mighty Voltron-like super hero,IMG_0829 spreading incredible soundtracks across the world, I feel I’ve become an addict. Yes, I was hooked even before this merger of horror vinyl Gods, but now it’s just getting ridiculous.

Oh well. Admitting you have a problem is the first step in ordering more records, right? Or is it the first step in quitting? That can’t be right. Why would I want to quit? Nonsense I say. Just nonsense.

So yesterday afternoon the mail people dropped off another cardboard square on my front porch and it is indeed the newest Mondo/Death Waltz goody. It’s what you would call a re-imagining of the score to 2013s The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears. I have not seen the film, but after reading up on it I was immediately interested. It’s a homage of sorts to all those giallo films of the 60s and 70s by Mario Bava and Dario Argento. From the looks of it it’s shot beautifully; vivid colors and exquisite cinematography are throughout the film. Basically, you would sit through this film much like you sit through a David Lynch film. You’re not there for story arcs and character development. You’re watching this movie because it’s gonna be really f****d up. Lots of nudity, graphic violence, incredible set pieces, and a hallucinatory experience all around.

However, one thing this film didn’t have was an original score. The filmmakers, in lieu having original music, used older music pieces from classic giallo films. So Blanck Mass’ Benjamin John Power was commissioned by Alison Poltock and Andrew Simpson from the East End Film Festival and curated this alternate score to the film. He invited other like-minded musicians to score different scenes from the film. The result is a moody, dark, droning collection of synth music that is on par with some of the best I’ve heard.

The artists that contributed pieces to the soundtrack were Roll The Dice, Helm, Moon Gangs, C Spencer Yeh, Konx-Om-Pax, Blanck Mass, and Phil Julian. These musicians come from all over the world, and bring something unique to the table. Roll The Dice have a John Carpenter vibe, while Moon Gangs sounds like a cross between Sinoia Caves and the droning beauty of Oneohtrix Point Never. C Spencer Yeh has all the hazy swish of Frizzi and Rizzati, with some dreamy drone thrown in for good measure. Konx-Om-Pax is downright freaky. Synth jabs, percussive pounding, and what sounds like a spaceship landing in a corn field make up the whole of their piece “Head Stab”. This probably is what a head stab sounds like. Blanck Mass is all tension building and drone, then they throw in some  beautiful swaths of synth strings to throw your equilibrium off.

What’s nice is that the individual styles don’t butt musical heads here; instead there is a cohesiveness throughout that gives you the feeling of moving from one scene to the next. Each piece flows into the next flawlessly here. I was sold on the album artwork alone(it’s quite stunning, and I believe the original movie poster art), but with each listen I’m pulled in more and more. This record truly is a work of aural art.

This is one of those releases that keeps me coming back for more. It’s the whole package: impeccable packaging, interesting backstory, highlighting an obscure film, and a stellar group of musicians. Before this soundtrack, I only had a vague knowledge of the film The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears, but through music that’s not even in the actual film, I’m extremely excited to see it. And what makes this even better is that these intense musical pieces were created out of inspiration the artists got from the film itself. I know that’s how scoring works, but this seems a little different. The movie was made, in the can, and nearly two years old by the time this record happened. Nothing was really at stake here. It was just each of these musicians sitting down, watching a scene, and then creating something out of what that scene did to them. It also helps that I really kinda dig this kind of music. The drones, the electronic whisps, the hazy, analog-fueled psychedelia…these are the sounds that I hear when I’m alone with my thoughts. Please, don’t be frightened. I’m not a serial killer. I just really dig this sort of thing, that’s all.

So I really need to find this movie and see it. Maybe I’ll mute the sound and play this record while I’m watching it. The dialogue really is a mute point in these films. It’s the visuals and the music. That’s what counts. Okay, so that’s not a nice thing to say. I’ll watch the movie as intended first, then go back and watch it with this album playing. Either way, I think I’m in for a treat.

Enjoy your Saturday.