Albums of the Decade: Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones, 2017)

Despite all our advances and supposed civility, the modern world exists on a thin and fragile veneer of connective stability. With almost every country now revolving around the black hole of capitalism, obsessed each day with profit margins and stock prices and the dream of eternal growth, it feels like we stretch ourselves increasingly thin. When a virus outbreak stops people from travelling, tourism industries shrivel up. Global supply chains slow, sales fall, the system’s grand failures reveal themselves.

Yesterday we had the worst day on the stock markets for twelve years, with global economies shrinking under the effects of the coronavirus and the Saudi/Russian oil dispute crumbling any remnant market security. All this chaos, and all it took was the smallest organisms in the world.

When I wrote about World Eater back in 2017 we were in strange times. Trump was really beginning to come in to his own and Brexit was heating up, things were just fucking downright weird. There was a spate of politically charged music that year for lots of reasons and Ben Power really seemed to tap into that energy in a big way with this one. As time goes on the ground shifts and perspectives move, but political malcontent and generalised public fear always remains.

It all starts with that carousel of doom in “John Doe’s Carnival of Error”, whose off-kilter fairground tinklings from Hell cavort in a sort of perverse ignorance, in comical frivolity. Its strangeness is palpable as the machinations of a dark engine bigger and stronger than ourselves send us spinning through oblivion.

The spark of realisation and retaliation is forced upon us immediately through the violent energies of “Rhesus Negative”. This defibrillating shock of tortured sound lurches us into the extant floodwaters of the sociopolitical rebellion, saturating the senses as the eyes fling open to the disturbed nature of reality about it. It manages to cruise on its heightened pathways and static storms, yet also seems to push toward climax across its span, straining towards solution.

It’s a bit deceptive really, since much of the record doesn’t really reach the same skyscraping force as that sophomore track, with the exception of bombastic “The Rat”. With every action there is an opposite reaction, and here the pushback from the filth is felt in relentless percussive pummelling and strobing synths, like some novel virus probing the body’s defences in evil and methodical fashion.

The pall it generates moves through the truly dark “Silent Treatment” whose initial hymnal brightness and choral fragments smokescreens the cinematic flickering noir scenes below. It skates an uncomfortable maximalist line, its smeared vocals and deep bass sustains sometimes breaking ranks to trip into frantic breakbeats that move mechanically, almost soullessly, to stifle and contain.

There are glimmers of hope though, spaces of calm and security; “Please” is probably the highlight for me, all plaintive and crooning. It feels busy in the same way that “Silent Treatment” is not, buzzing with a sort of crowded textural energy that suggests a simmering depth of hopefuls all channeling their desires through one point: sort of the Greta Thunberg of pieces. Later there is the complicatedly effervescent “Minnesota/Eas Fors/Naked”, whose brutal first few minutes vibrate with a disgustingly organic wetness, thrumming alien noises that pummel with dramatic stress-testing majesty.

Slowly the clouds part and a new dawn arises, ringing notes shining through the dense drone shroud like the light of a new born star glinting from within its cloaking nebula. It arises anew, fresh from calamity, borne from disaster: revolution induced change, and the rewards reaped are sweet as it descends into its calming Vaporwaving loops.

This record is still a total beast and retrospectively sits in that sweet spot right between the somewhat more impenetrable Dumb Flesh and the slightly more straightforward Animated Violence Mild. It found its way into the world at just the problematically perfect moment, but that won’t stop it from being amazingly relevant in the years to come.