BLANCK MASS | ANIMATED VIOLENCE MILD | REVIEW BY LONDONWORKS
This is our review of the new album by electronic artist Blanck Mass (aka Benjamin John Power).
What is a good or bad album? I ask you. What are the requirements of a good record? I think there will never be a straight answer to this question. First of all, I think a good album should reflect the spirit of the time and society we live in. It should capture the soul of our most significant contrasts, paradoxes, struggles, and beauty. In order to achieve that, a good album should make a political and artistic statement; they go hand in hand after all. Past the philosophical and anthropological, I could say that a good contemporary album should have charming harmonies, surprising transitions, use the concept of tension at its best, and recreate emotions and sensations that people can connect to. This universalization is so essential, as we don't want to feel like the artist is just creating music as a stylistic exercise to satisfy themselves and their ego. That could potentially alienate us.
It sounds like an awful lot. Who can successfully tick so many boxes? We are talking about making a contemporary "artwork" after all. I see music as art, yes. Do I think that "Animated Violence Mild" is that album?
Let's start with the track "Death drop". This song is a fully immersive experience; it's the sound of rage and theatrical nihilism in a world of silent latent obscurity and control. It feels like the whole humankind screaming to claim what is lost forever: their consciousness. Their claim as humans beings here today, tuned into a world that has put them in an irreversible lethargic mode. The theatricality of this track is beyond precedents for Benjamin John Power. It's so dramatic, like a whole orchestra playing for the end of the world.
"House vs House", is a structured and more balanced track, it almost feels like after the infernal chaos of Death Drop he's taking a moment to reflect and express those feelings. I think the position of this track in the album is absolutely perfect and well thought.
Let's now move to "Hush money". This particular track seems to have thrown so many people and music critics into confusion. They called it "naive", "simplistic", "repetitive" and so on...Someone even said it's the only dip of ingenuity in the album. Is it? And is a sole dip of ingenuity a bad thing in an album like this one? I want to say to all of them, but especially to Benjamin, that I respectfully disagree. The music escalation at the end of this track is the best part of the whole album for me. Is the song unbalanced and repetitive? Yes. Do I think that it was an intentional choice? Yes. Escalation to that extent only works after repetition. In order to build up to that escalation, the song had to be repetitive. I think that is the brightest and most articulated moment of the album. I'm giving Hush Money alone a 9/10.
"Love is a parasite", is another very theatrical and layered track. It's almost like Benjamin was thinking "forget about less is more, MORE IS MORE". I can picture him listening to it over and over, and each time saying "what else could I add?". This is probably the most complete track of the album in the way of balance, tension, expectations, music layering, and nostalgia. It's the one track that gave me a nostalgic feeling (at 3.29 that beautiful transition made it for me).
"Creatures/ West Fuqua" is another masterpiece. Once again, perfectly placed in the album. It feels like controlled rage (ready to explode any minute), in a beautiful dream that has paralyzed us and alienated us from reality. Are we ever waking up?
"No Dice", is the easiest on the ear. It's got a catchy beat that carries through the whole track. I think it's a good song, and it's challenging for a good song to stand out in an album of great songs. Still very pleasant to listen to.
I reevaluated "Wings of hate" after days of listening to it. I was initially unsure whether the album deserved a different type of ending (perhaps something deeper and more emotional and thoughtful, like a final reflection). I now think that in reality, there will not be such a thing. The real world will probably end just like it started: in inevitable theatrical chaos. This is the sound of us surrendering, admitting defeat to a system that has deprived us of the most precious thing we had.