Switched On – Blanck Mass: Animated Violence Mild (Sacred Bones Records)

What’s the story?

The chances are that if you haven’t heard of Blanck Mass before, you will have heard his music. It is the solo project of Benjamin John Power, a founding member of the duo Fuck Buttons, purveyors of drone – and whose music featured heavily in Danny Boyle’s creation to mark the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. This is Power’s fifth album under the alias.

What’s the music like?

High on adrenalin. When you first hear Animated Violence Mild the sheer force of the wall of sound could well take your breath away. There is so much white noise and percussion, with riffs thrown at the listener like blocks of concrete, that the feeling of overload early on.

Big, bold rhythms cut their way to the front of tracks like Death Drop, while House vs. House flirts with flash metal before panning out into huge textures, like the end credits on an incredibly bloody movie. There is a terrific release of energy here for sure, and tracks like Hush Money have plenty of thrills, but it soon becomes overwhelming. Power provides some very welcome respite with Creature / West Fuqua, cutting from the wall of distortion to the more exotic thrum of the harp.

This is a key moment on the album, as it keys up the brilliant and euphoric No Dice (above), another ‘end credits’ contender, before another thrash fest on the closing Wings Of Hate. To borrow a sporting adage, Power leaves nothing on the pitch in his quest for a big, big sound!

Does it all work?

Sporadically. There are many thrilling moments on this album but several of the tracks have such a massive wall of noise that they sweep through the listener like a sonic tsunami, leaving some of their best bits behind.

Is it recommended?

Yes but not to those of a nervous disposition! Nor would it be an immediate recommendation for newcomers to Power’s work. They might be better off beginning with 2015’s Dumb Flesh, and approaching this from a bit of a distance. Power makes spectacular music here, and could never be accused of being a shrinking violet, but Animated Violence Mild is the musical equivalent of too much caffeine!

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