Blanck Mass World Eater Sacred Bones
In a review of World Eater’s second single Silent Treatment, Pitchfork argued that the track and the record’s cover artwork – a close-up of a dog bearing its teeth – both convey a warning: that “our pets, our loved ones hold the power to hurt us in ways we never could have imagined.”
While much of Benjamin Power’s work embodies a duality, simultaneously seducing and punishing its listeners with glistening sound-design and abrasive noise, it’s hard to feel like it ever communicates anything as personal as a beloved but hostile pet. First as one half of noise duo Fuck Buttons and now as Blanck Mass, Powers’ music has always evoked the epic and the imaginary – wildfire, electrical storms or planets being swallowed by suns could all be aptly soundtracked by him. It’s arguably the reason why his music has reached so far beyond noise music’s niche fanbase – Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass tracks were famously used in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
World Eater sees Power attempt to introduce some new ideas. Here, glossier production and strange down-tempo interludes break up the density. Vocal samples are no longer treated like instruments: while still warped and pitch-shifted, they reference pop-music more than ever here and clear phrases can be made out. There’s also a confusing inclusion of an almost unedited, 90-second sample of Phoebe – a song by vaporwave outfit Luxury Elite – at the end of Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked. Aside from seeming to not fit in conceptually, the nod to vaporwave seems slightly regressive, given how far the genre’s champions like Oneohtrix Point Never, now one of Blanck Mass’s peers, have evolved since its heyday. Despite its impressive moments, World Eater seems like an experiment that left the studio too early, marking a crossroads for an artist who has mastered one field and can’t decide whether to keep digging where he stands, or to go out looking for new territory.