Blanck Mass

– DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

Sweet baby Jesus, this is intense. As soon as Benjamin Power, one half of the sublime Fuck Buttons, presses the first pad on his desk of electronic toys, I feel like I’m being assaulted. I’ve been to some loud gigs (I managed 10mins of My Bloody Valentine’s infamous ‘holocaust section’ on their reformation tour a while back) and I’ve seen some weird shit, but wow this is loud, and the projected visuals are gruesome on a whole other level. All I can think of when I see a couple rushing to the exit from the front of the crowd mid way through opener ‘The Rat’ is “thank fuck I brought my ear plugs…”

You see, Power deals in noise. His new LP under the Blanck Mass guise World Eater┬áis a continuation of what he’s done before in the aggressive techno/noise arena but regularly dialled up to 10. ‘The Rat’ is a great example of this, opening the gig up with pummelling, stabbing drums that pierce right through your body into your actual bones, right through your ears into the actual synapses of your brain – it’s music that, quite literally, you feel. But it’s not all about the noise and the punishing relentlessness of his visceral beats, it’s about melody and making you dance too. ‘Rhesus Negative’ builds and builds and builds some more, layer upon layer of beats and noise and screamed and chopped vocals (which Power provides himself), but what cuts through it all is the snatches of beautiful melody soaring through the piece, and also the screwed up shifting time signatures that hilariously make it almost impossible to dance in time to, the crowd doing their level best to sync to Power’s world – failing miserably, but not giving up the ghost.

During ‘Please’, probably the most conventional ‘dance’ track on World Eater, the crowd do manage to sync with Power and the whole of the room is a writhing, sweaty mess as Power slows the tempo of the gig down to bring some much needed respite to the pummelling we’ve all had from the first half of the set. You might even call ‘Please’ and ‘Silent Treatment’ pretty, and they provide a stunning centrepiece for the night. The projections even tone down a bit during them, gone are the maggots, the ants, the pulsating unidentifiable organs, and in their place are more subtle shifts in colour and texture. During this section I venture to remove my ear plugs to see if the volume has relented, but it’s still as fierce as ever so they go straight back in, the little ear savers proving essential as protection against Power’s, er, power.

By the end it does feel like I’ve survived some kind of endurance test, the feedback squealing over the PA as we exit the room, challenging our sense to the end. Yet for the most part I had a massive grin across my face and boy did I dance, as the force of Power’s music washed over and through me in wave after unceasing wave. Sometimes you need to be confronted by music, and there’s few better than Blanck Mass at tackling you head (and ears) on.

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