The genius of Fuck Buttons has always been the duo’s ability to put sounds on loop — of creating and finding the nuances of that loop, while at the same time redlining the amplifiers into a moving wall of distortion. So when Benjamin John Power, one half of Fuck Buttons, decided to try his hand at a solo electronic effort under the moniker of Blanck Mass, the results were expected to be relatively the same. Less blatant dance music, more deep thoughts.
Going in with that mentality isn’t doing Power any favors. The self-titled release is less Fuck Buttons noise and more a focus on the atmospheric qualities of his original group. The album opens with “Sifted Gold”, a song that has waves of slight distorted electronics fading in and out, ebbing like the tide, with the actual sound of the tide in the background. Blanck Mass is harkening back to the originals of the ambient wave, more Eno than recent forays into distortion-driven music. While some songs like “Sundowner” and “Land Disasters” rely on distortion, the peak of the song never comes at the drop of a grand crescendo. Like most ambient songs, most of the songs never really peak on Blanck Mass, but that isn’t to say that they are boring at all.
Listen to “Land Disasters” – DOWNLOAD MP3
Power’s ability to find beautiful and soothing melodies within louder distorted waves is quite impressive. Most songs don’t need a grand crescendo because he is already at that level. The most impressive thing about Blanck Mass is the wide spectrum of sounds that Power incorporates. From distorted waves to ’80s synth-spacey driven “What You Know”, Blanck Mass demonstrates a man who is on his game in the ambient realm. At the same time, this wide breadth also interrupts the album’s flow in places. Ambient albums, more than most genres, rely on the flow of an album from song to song to really bring it all in together. Blanck Mass, at times, feels more a collection of ten songs in an album than an album of ten songs.
It being Power’s first solo effort, he can have a pass on this. And that results in a great album showing lots of promise — the best part being that Blanck Mass is not Fuck Buttons 2.0, but the grounds for something quite different, inventive, and equally exciting.