This week, Modern Vinyl recommends “World Eater,” the exhilarating and timely dark electronic record from producer Blanck Mass.
Benjamin John Power, of the English-based electronic duo Fuck Buttons, has performed solo for some time now as Blanck Mass, and has used this outlet to conjure up some otherworldly electronic tracks that mostly continue the prior act’s brand of dense, menacing, repetitive and industrial sonics. That isn’t to say Fuck Buttons is any less accessible, as its penchant for punishing soundscapes and slow-burn constructions play a most important role here, but Blanck Mass provides a different dose of harrowing psychedelic drug, one born out on the dancefloor, whose transformations reveal themselves only if you’re willing to put your body through the same rigor as your mind.
The music of Blanck Mass, however danceable, is still deeply conceptualized, from inception to completion. He released Dumb Flesh in 2015, whose malleable structure and ability to shape-shift through nooks and crannies of electronic sub-genres, like drone and indietronica, contribute to a lack of identity, but that’s kind of the point: it’s an artful exhibition of an existential crisis. Blanck Mass penetrates the ears with soul-sucking beat-based tracks like “Dead Format,” “Atrophies,” and “Cruel Sport,” infiltrating the recesses of the brain, with those ideas capable of triggering the motor neurons to control what is your otherwise lifeless, “dumb” meat jacket. It’s in these moments that physical bodies come together in ritual, as the album art would describe, but whose minds are really the ones in motion.
World Eater is the 2017 follow-up, and while a majority of the sentiments regarding his previous album remain, 2017 is a different world than what we had in 2015, and Blanck Mass has traversed time along with us. Halfway through that year, the world had its eyes on the United States, as opponents in the political arena had their goals set on the highest job in the land, duking it out in a gut-wrenching and absurd campaign that ultimately saw a winner who — well, I think we all know the backstory of that particular individual. The stress levels remain now that the campaign is over, and though we’re still not really sure what we’re in for as I write this article, his presence in office has indeed changed the world’s perception of societal norms. Blanck Mass has channeled those feelings in this latest work, whose sonics take on new meaning, fighting a difficult mental battle to find light and love in the chaos.
As you can hear in the above and below tracks, World Eater continues in the footsteps of its predecessor, featuring an excellent melange of electronic styles, while consuming a wealth of multi-layered sampling. But most of all, this album is flat-out angry. From the thick bass pads, to the tantalizing crescendos and stabs of high octave synths, it feeds off an acute aggression brewing over the past two years, and that if not closely paid attention to could quickly escape into something darker. Raving to these tracks almost feels wrong. For every looping beat lies an undercurrent of tragedy, which gives his brand of dour industrial electronic perfect harmony to harbor those pangs of emotion.
Starting out with the loopy “John Doe’s Carnival of Error” and ending with the brilliant “Hive Mind,” the record takes on more color as it forges on, but it will make you work to get there. It pays off in spades, though, for what you will find is a fitting, meta electronic piece of inward expression toward the current climate. It freewheels even when it tries to be composed, as in “Rhesus Negative” or “Minnesota/Eas Fors/Naked,” but that’s keeping with the idea that we must keep composed ourselves in a world that wants to upend composition. That might make World Eater stuck in context, but time is the heartbeat of this record, with Blanck Mass realizing along the way that there is levity to the madness — you just have to concentrate to discover it.
The chameleonic nature of Blanck Mass continues in World Eater, for better or worse, and his brutal, harsh sonics and hypnotic beats are married with context, ultimately cementing the album as a powerful artistic statement for the times. This is the record he knows we need right now, and whatever ends up happening in this crazy place, it’s a surefire way to let out any listener’s darker tendencies, leading into an introspective ending that might make you wonder if everything is going to be just fine.
World Eater is being released via Sacred Bones Records on March 3. Listen to the album ahead of its release over at NPR and Order standard and limited edition LPs here.