Blanck Mass

World Eater

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Just in case there were any doubts that electronic music can have as much of a political voice as other genres, Blanck Mass silences them with World Eater. Inspired by the shock and upheaval that surrounded Brexit and other nationalist political movements that emerged in 2016, Benjamin John Power transforms furious noise, drones, and the surprisingly danceable elements of Dumb Flesh into vivid portraits of division and turmoil that sound big enough to engulf a planet and intricate enough to consume it from within. Power has always excelled at pitting sonic extremes against each other, but these contrasts have rarely sounded as meaningful -- or disorienting -- as they do on World Eater, where wildly divergent elements sit next to each other like red and blue states and collide with each other in fascinating ways. Like the unnatural calm before all hell breaks loose in a horror movie, "John Doe's Carnival of Error" begins the album with a delicate melody that feels descended from "Tubular Bells." It sets the stage perfectly for the nine-minute exorcism that is "Rhesus Negative," where pummeling, screeching electronics are joined by choral vocals and a celestial countermelody in what sounds like the ultimate showdown between good and evil. It's one of Power's most exciting pieces of music to date, but World Eater's most thought-provoking moments aren't always the harshest. As the album's midsection dips into prettier territory, Power soothes listeners as much as he shocks them, bringing emotions to the fore. "The Rat" is Blanck Mass' version of synth-pop, pairing stomping jock-rock beats and a sugary melody with alternately menacing, amusing, and poignant results, while the haunting "Please" and "Silent Treatment" surround strangely affecting vocal snippets that sound like they escaped from an R&B track with woozy synth textures and percussion that crunches like snapping jaws. Despite World Eater's extreme palette, what Power expresses with these sounds isn't black-and-white (although his suggestion to "Please support your local LGBT and animal rights organizations" in the liner notes tells his audience where his sympathies lie). The luminous "Hive Mind" closes the album on a beautifully ambivalent note, the poignancy of its swelling vocals making it even more unsettling. Considering his legacy, it's all the more impressive that Power found even more challenging places to go with his music, but World Eater's focused chaos is some of his finest work yet.

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