Blanck Mass / Russell Haswell
ATP Pop Up Venue, London
“Was that Dean Blunt?”
The enigma himself may have left immediately after Russell Haswell’s opening set at the venue-formally-known-as-the-ground-floor-of-Total-Refreshment-Centre (currently existing as ATP Pop Up Venue), but it was his loss. Blanck Mass, the solo alias of one Benjamin Power, unleashed a cavalcade of heavy and occasionally overwhelming euphoria on a room of people Haswell had thoroughly cleansed with his singular brand of noise-play.
We appeared to arrive at the exact moment in Haswell’s set that he decided he didn’t like dance music anymore. The fractured rhythms that cascade from his modular setup are comprehensibly punished by the harshest noise imaginable until nothing (or everything, depending on how you view noise) remains. Removing an unknown beige stompbox from the table and playing it against his thigh not unlike Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, the last throes of his set were a brilliant, confounding paralysis of convention and resolute destruction of expectation. Or just noise.
A clean slate if ever there was one then, from which Power proceeded to build a set that ebbed and flowed through passes of clean ambience, rattling techno-not-techno and the signature euphoric chord progressions that Fuck Buttons made their name on. Aptly abstract and kaleidoscopic visuals play across his face and along the back wall throughout, providing a visual counterpoint that actually works with the music and not simply an idle distraction.
A unanimous roar following the last track succeeds in getting the encore it desires, and with that Blanck Mass is done.