What would happen if we would take away the beats, the guitar distortion and the locomotive rhythm that made Fuck Buttons’ “Tarot Sport” the perfect record for an 10-mile run? The result could sound like what we are hearing, speechless and fascinated, on Blanck Mass’s eponymous album debut. It’s no coincidence it’s the solo project of Benjamin John Power, half of the British duo, who on this album (without leaving behind the aesthetic and stylistic links with his other project), shows enough personality and ambition to distance himself from it and find his own place.
The most interesting feature on “Blanck Mass”, of course, is the absence of the rhythm section, basically because we’re dealing with a monumental exercise in cosmic ambient, where the synthesiser takes on the leading role. Think M83 at their least poppy, Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never, Popol Vuh, a part of Fuck Buttons and, of course, Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Brian Eno, and you get an idea about what’s going on in this album, which camouflages the lack of freshness and originality (after all, we’ve heard it all before and it’s part of the latest ambient revival) with a clear sense of epic and an astonishing control over melodic arrangements, mood creation and emotional landscapes.
Benjamin John Power uses his analogue machines to extract incessant but controlled streams of mystical, bright noise and paint an idyllic big blue in the mind of the listener, a turbid but peaceful beauty, which it’s painful to pull yourself away from. Choose your best headphones, put the volume up to 10 (or…11), disappear and enjoy the trip, because when you return, when you leave that healing ocean, when you come back to cruel reality, where the city’s noise in the background of unpleasant people mouthing off, car horns honking, neighbours watching TV with the volume up too high and kids using their mobiles as public jukeboxes, it’ll be too late to be regretful and make your return. “Blanck Mass”: the incomparable excuse to get away from the world for around sixty minutes.