Review of Blanck Mass Album by Blanck Mass

When initially researching Blanck Mass I came across a cache of YouTube videos, one of which had a comment something like "Sounds like the theme tune to Blade Runner". Try as I might to dislodge this idea for fear of an accusation of plagiarism, to my shame I have to say that this descriptor is the most appropriate aural metaphor I can think of. Sundowner - mostly - sounds like it belongs in the perpetual rain and darkness of Ridley Scott's future noir, its contents music for replicants to tango along silently to for only Mr Tryell's pleasure, and because all criticism is essentially theft, I'll use the opinion and whatever other help I can get.

Blanck Mass Blanck Mass Album

The perpetrator of this deeply cosmic non-conformity is one Benjamin John Power, half of the Bristolian post rave/industrial noiseniks Fuck Buttons, and in a sense is no stranger to fashioning things of beauty from white noise and cheap home electronics. Claiming to have been heavily influenced by the messianic (In some circles) American astro-philosopher Carl Sagan, Power has shifted emphasis from overloading his listener's senses to massaging them, in a strictly non patchouli and crystals/So-Cal way.

The effect is something like being in a flotation tank, a real sense of journey which it's appropriate to say will give many readers something of a challenge in the patience stakes. There are briefer moments - closer Weakling Flier and the neo-classicism of Fuckers are both comparatively brief at less than four minutes each - but these represent very much the exception. Power clearly wants to envelop people on Sundowner, cocooning them in wave after wave of rippling drones that are essentially modulating, repeated phrases, in the process adroitly building mood and atmosphere. Beautifully executed, it's still worth noting that this is far from a new concept, building on the foundations laid by the likes Stockhausen, Eno and Tangerine Dream, also owing a debt in places to the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine's meisterwork, Loveless.

It's on these lengthy pieces - songs doesn't adequately explain what's going on here - that this canvas really gives itself the opportunity to shift perspectives. The title track itself ebbs, oscillating around a handful of notes, astrally projecting like a twenty third century national anthem. But it's What You Know that forms the centrepiece, clocking in at nearly fourteen shape changing minutes, it's an epic construct in every sense of the word, eventually transforming from menace to graceful, uplifting ripples of ambient peacefulness, like a cyber Jean-Michelle Jarre suite in Ursa Major. All that sounds pretentious in the extreme, but Power is seemingly happy to present a dichotomy; his music is fashioned either from highly simplistic repetition, or complex, enigma wrapped in an illusion type ambiguity depending on your frame of mind. With this being the case, trying to specify the purpose of individual phrases, moods or passages becomes something of a pointless excercise. The key to Sundowner is all about how you approach it, and by investing some energy and time you'll be rewarded handsomely. There are enough unsatisfyingly brief and superficial experiences to be had on this planet right now - it's surely time to immerse yourself in something totally different.

Andy Peterson

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