Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild

Blanck Mass returns with a barrelling, vibrant masterwork

Album Review by Joe Creely | 09 Aug 2019
  • Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild
Album title: Animated Violence Mild
Artist: Blanck Mass
Label: Sacred Bones
Release date: 16 Aug

On World Eater, Benjamin John Power uncovered within himself a remarkable ability for creating music that held within it both the chaotic enormity of the planet’s ongoing problems and the intimate raw feeling of those affected by them. In this follow-up, he's moved in a more specifically political direction, examining humanities relationship with consumerism, losing none of this gift; honing in on his most hyperactive tendencies and streamlining them into a superb, breakneck wonder of a record.

The density of soundscape that has typified Power’s work up until this point remains, but every aspect has been ratcheted up in intensity. On Death Drop and Hush Money, every layer tries to elbow the others aside, lending an emphatic energy, like an Andy Capp whirl of limbs played out at titanic scale. Even the short (in comparison) Creature/West Fuqua leads with a grinding metallic drone before giving way to gorgeous harps and plaintive vocal samples. Lead single House vs. House captures this intensity perfectly. Built on popping sampled snippets and enormous snares it features some of Power’s most beautiful vocal manipulations to date, and with a trance riff retooled to bulldozing effect it manages to feel simultaneously furious, wounded and cautiously hopeful without ever feeling anything less than totally committed to itself.

There is a definite move towards a more synthetic sound in attempting to articulate these themes of consumerist idealism, but it avoids the affected self-congratulation that permeates so much vaporwave and it never feels at the expense of real emotion. The synth strings motif on No Dice veers oddly close to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire theme tune but surrounded as it is by snapping percussion and haunting vocals it takes on an abrasively momentous quality. From its first moments Wings of Hate is swamped with emotive melodies but Power miraculously keeps finding space to build into where there seemed to be none. It becomes almost punishingly compact with sound whilst never mulching into one texture, a testament to his writing as well as his production.

It may well be Power’s finest solo record, a continuation of the last decade-and-a-half of pushing himself into new sonic realms. It’s an astonishing work; actively abrasive and incandescent with fury with a core of unaffected raw feeling.

Listen to: House vs. House, Death Drop, Wings of Hate