2016 was a beast of a year, from musical behemoths dying at a rapid rate to a period of such political turmoil that such realities we now face would have seemed like an obscene joke only a few years ago. If a beast has been awoken then it is wild and untamed, chewing and gnawing at civilisation, compassion and progression.
In World Eater Benjamin John Power – one half of Fuck Buttons – through his third album as Blanck Mass has made a reactionary and representative record of a year teeming with anger, violence, confusion and frustration. “World Eater is a reference to both the inner beast inside human beings that when grouped en-masse stops us from moving forward towards good, and a reference to human beings themselves and their place on the planet.” He says of the inner and outward consuming beast. “The beast is highly territorial and violent. It is very clear to me that the beast remains an ever-growing presence and threat. We have to understand and control the beast before we turn the world inside out and destroy it.”
World Eater is a record that is thoroughly alive, bubbling, gnarling and biting. Yet whilst musically it captures an anger and intensity through a progression of hissing electronics and furious beats, it also too possesses a tender side and amongst the rage lays actual love songs. “It’s a cliché to say, but there is a fine line between love and hate.” Power says of the record’s dichotomous existence. “Being surrounded by so much hate in the world right now throws a whole new light on the importance of love. I have never set out to make a protest record. I’ve never set out to make any kind of record really, but during the creative process for this and any of my past releases I start to form a bond with the project as we grow together. World Eater is highly reactionary, I think the love restored a personal balance.”
Whilst World Eater might be a record intent as a reaction to the mass, squealing hysteria and unpredictability of 2016 and certainly possesses some of its mania and pummelling intensity sonically, it’s a record that goes deeper beyond simple rage and Power has used this opportunity to slim down his palate for this record, intentionally using a restricted set of tools. “Evoking these intense emotions using minimal components really put me outside of my comfort zone and was unlike the process I am used to.” He says of the process. That said, despite the personal limitations set to expand his musical horizons, Power’s primary objective is still the creative output and not the equipment used to create it. “I personally don’t care how something was made. Gear fetishism is of no interest to me. The most important thing is that it’s honest and made for the love of creating and free expression. But I do blame our culture of instant gratification for warping our perception of what is real and honest. It’s very easy for people to discard things when they don’t fully understand the process that went into creating them. Further distancing is the fact that you can sell shit to the masses if you pump enough money into said shit. Contrary to popular belief, you can polish a turd and people are eating shit everyday.”
World Eater is a record that feels like it traverses across genres as frequently as it does environments. At moments it rattles with an industrial clang as though it’s scoring a film for a dystopian classic, whilst at others it bursts with rapid-fire beats and heavy slabs of bass that feel club-destined and yet again other moments are foggy explorations of dark ambient. Through seven tracks it becomes an emotionally varied and dense record that asks as many questions as it answers. A record planted equally in fear and hope, perhaps an apt sign for what the future holds, as Power says. “Fear and hope are both parts of our human make up, but it’s the way that we act upon these feelings that is of concern to me – to understand the beast or to become the beast.”