The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Blanck Mass
Dumb Flesh James Ubaghs , May 21st, 2015 11:12

It doesn't feel appropriate to describe Benjamin John Power's music as "noise". As either one half of Fuck Buttons, or in his solo guise as Blanck Mass, there is simply far too much melody, askew beauty and demented euphoric energy going on in his output for reductive genre labels to capture it all. Not that it isn't noise too. It's loud, and prone to puzzlingly appearing in Olympic ceremonies, and so forth. There's also an expansive, at times pop orientated, at times brutal, assessable idiosyncrasy to his work that feels wholly of its own.

Power makes gargantuan, visceral music, and his latest Blanck Mass album may be the most superlative thing he's put his name to yet. Dumb Flesh is bigger and harder hitting then say, the sense of shame one feels when ingesting mysterious frozen processed meats purchased in an Aldi while perfectly sober – to use a perfectly hypothetical illustration. In any case it hits those visceral, in the pit of your stomach emotions.

Dumb Flesh is also the most crowd pleasing album Power has made to date, but without ever coming across as crass or pandering. The first Blanck Mass album was a stylistic detour into Carl Sagan inspired ambient, but Dumb Flesh on the other hand feels like a direct continuation of the last superb Fuck Buttons album, Slow Focus, albeit a good deal warmer than its overpowering austere chilliness.

Opener 'Loam' is a euphoric flare gun fired right into the middle of your serotonin receptors. A woozy loop of inhuman grunts slowly escalates into a crescendo of jagged rhythmic noise. It feels like transmissions from an unfathomably hedonistic but joyous parallel universe bleeding into your speakers. Lead single 'Dead Format' only escalates the energy levels further; its warped, nonsensical and heavily processed vocal utterings a deliriously effective detail. This is maximalist excess, executed with the greatest restraint, taste and skill. Not that Dumb Flesh stays revved up to full throttle for the entirety of its duration, though. Its an album that obliterates you out the gate, and then ebbs and flows, while constantly feeling dynamic, and vital.

A reoccurring feature is the way that vocal samples frequently sound like synths, and synths sound almost like vocals, on the verge of attaining sentience. It's like the music itself is becoming alive; digital detritus playfully beckoning you to new horizons. It's a bit like that fucking plastic bag in American Beauty, except a lot more banging. And if that isn't the highest of praise, then I don't know what is.