Blanck Mass on "Animated Violence Mild" - A Battle for Melody | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Blanck Mass on “Animated Violence Mild”

A Battle for Melody

Oct 11, 2019 Web Exclusive
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Rolling one cigarette after another from his home in the East Lothian Council of Scotland, Benjamin John Power is invigorated. Known to the music world as Blanck Mass, or that guy from Fuck Buttons, Power turns his device around to his backyard so I can see how very green the beautiful day is. Power grew up in London, “the home of heavy metal,” he says as he turns the device back to his face.

Animated Violence Mild is the fourth Blanck Mass album, released, like his last two, through Sacred Bones, a label family of good friends, says Power, mentioning Psychic Ills, Jon Catfish Delorme, Zola Jesus, Uniform, and label boss, Caleb Braaten. “It’s a curation of taste, and they love every release that they put out. Never has anyone at Sacred Bones tampered with my music, which probably doesn’t happen at other labels. I feel an affinity with a lot of the artiststhere’s an underlying thread that everyone has a good relationship with darkness.”

The wickedness of Animated Violence Mild is in the hammy beats. Power writes from outside of the box, and says that he manipulated his OB-6 polyphonic analog synthesizer through a myriad of guitar pedals. The OB-6 has a massive pedigree, and is the product of a collaboration between renowed synthesizer designers Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith. “It’s the Van Halen ‘Jump’ sound, a nod towards the 1980s nostalgia in contemporary and television,” says Power. “I started with a blank canvas, no set theme; very explorative. As the process goes further, I analyze myself as the stream of consciousness continues.”

Underneath the torrential slam and twisted chords are Power’s faint screams, which were treated with various synthesizer effects, a microphone made for harmonica players, and a kids tape player that Power used in Fuck Buttons. Power says that he doesn’t want to share any of the lyrics on the new album; he wants listeners to form their own opinion of what he is trying to say.

The narrative of Animated Violence Mild has to do with the “delicious denial of consumerism,” says Power, “which has wrapped itself around us. Consumerism is a human creation, and humans have become very lazy. Now, [consumerism] 100-percent controls us, even the people that make the decisions. First, it was to assist us, now it controls.”

Since the textures of Power’s music comes from an abrasive place, it could be easy to disregard melody. But Blanck Mass has a motto: “Melody Against All Odds.” Melody appeared on his last two albums, 2015’s Dumb Flesh and 2017’s World Eater, and also connects on Animated Violence Mild.

“Even the most atonal music finds melody,” says Power, who admits to scrapping a bunch of material during the making of the new album. “Songwriting can be an experiment in letting go. I’m a perfectionist, so if I feel like it will work, let’s go all the way. There were voices from the outside and conflicting dialogues that were relevant…I had to make a concerted effort to let go of certain things.”

Power says that he started painting again; he had not painted in a long time. “It was a cathartic, self-medication for perfectionism.”

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