Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass (Rock Action)

As unsettling as it is remarkable

Released Aug 1st, 2011 via Rock Action / By Paul Robertson
Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass (Rock Action) Blanck Mass is the solo project of Benjamin John Power, one half of electro-headache-inducers Fuck Buttons, and a man self-admittedly in thrall to Carl Sagan, Ennio Morricone and “the infinity of nature”. Throw in a soupçon of Jean-Michel Jarre, circa Oxygene and Rendez Vous, a touch of the glacial minimalism of Philip Glass and a heapin' helpin' of all-purpose Brian Eno, and that should give a good indication as to sound-world inhabited by Power in the guise of Blanck Mass.

In fact, 'glacial' would be the single most fitting adjective to apply to the chilled and chilling tones that Power generates herein, wrought by effected guitar, washes and waves of analogue synth, bathyscaphic low-end subs and shimmering drone. Warmth only enters the tonal equation via the warping Tardis-esque swelling chords of final track 'Weakling Flier' – elsewhere all is distinctly chilly.

Buried within the ebb and flow of electronically manipulated tone, there are the sounds of nature, sometimes clearly recognisable – such as the cut-up bird chirrups of 'Raw Deal' and 'Icke's Struggle' – but mostly just another ingredient in the mysterious Blanck Mass stew of sound, there to add texture and flavour, much like the insectile skittering that runs across the face of 'Sub Serious' and the myriad electronic tics that infest the album as a whole.

Power favours warping washes of big analogue synth-tone that move with an organic ebb and flow, inducing a touch of seasickness that adds a queasy, disorientating quality to the tracks. This in turn meshes with the glacial nature of the other sounds and gives the overall album a distanced, verging on inhuman, tone, which in turn itself makes the scope on display cosmic in expanse and more in line with the Sagan influence.

In many ways, Power is making the retroactive soundtrack to a long-since-faded and forgotten television documentary series with Blanck Mass, one that fuses the outer-space sense of wonderment that Sagan possessed with the deep-sea fascination of Jacques Cousteau, at once claustrophobic in feel and seemingly endless in sheer spaciousness.

The minimalist approach, the lush-yet-glacial tone and the retrospective quality all go some way toward placing Blanck Mass within the orbit of the 'hauntological' scene that surrounds the Ghost Box label and other pranksters such as Mordant Music and Moon Wiring Club, which is certainly no bad place to be, and would be a fittingly natural home for a purveyor of unnatural, nature-informed, sounds.