Sifted Gold: Blanck Mass

Benjamin John Power speaks...
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In a sense, ambient music has always embodied the crossing point between technology and the natural world.

Designed to be explored in a natural environment, a sense of ambience uniquely twins the listener to the surroundings. Working alone in his home studio, Blanck Mass draws on an intense feeling of isolation for his new album.

Real name Benjamin John Power, the producer has completed a genuinely original electronic record. Released earlier this year, obvious parallels are with the likes of Brian Eno etc but in reality the album's stylistic and thematic traits are a world away from Eno-logy.

A fascinating exploration of sound, it's themes of technology, humanity's relationship with nature and the distorting effects of cerebral hypoxia (death by drowning) place 'Blanck Mass' in a bracket of one.

Agreeing to answer our questions via Email, this is what Benjamin John Power had to say about the project.

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Why a solo album and why now?
I like to constantly keep myself busy. It just so happened that I had a collection of songs that I had written in time away from other ongoings that I felt could be structured coherently and put out as an album. This is when I decided it was something I would like to share. but yes, it certainly wasn't premeditated in that sense timing wise. It just felt right.

Where did the theme of Cerebral Hypoxia come from?
Around the time of writing these songs and in particular the track 'Sundowner' I was speaking to a close friend about the supposed feeling of euphoria one feels before death from drowning. I certainly don't mean for this to be this to be viewed in a morbid way, but more the idea of finding a beauty within the unknown. I think this was a theme that is very apparent throughout the record, as is the idea of the isolation which can be found within a clearer understanding of nature and our surroundings. I certainly don't won't to force any kind of visual aesthetic or mental imagery on anyone who might chose to listen to Blanck Mass, but I feel these were themes that were certainly on my mind around the time of writing the record.

How did that impact on the songwriting / album structure?
I feel the main point within the record that really embraces this idea is on ‘Sundowner’ as I mentioned before. When writing this track I wanted the song to build, and become more desperate and beautiufil in equal measures, up until bursting point. Upon which the track draws it’s final breath and becomes still, tranquil and drifts away. I didn’t run with this imagery throughout the entirety of the record, but it certainly rears it’s head from time to time.

BLANCK MASS - ICKE'S STRUGGLE from Alex Turvey on Vimeo.



You worked at home, what’s your set up like?
Minimal in the sense that everything was recorded directly into a laptop through numerous D.I’s. all of the instrumentation was heavily processed, and the flat I was in at the time had awful strip lighting which flickered all day long. I found myself with a sea of effects units and synthesisers surrounding in quite a chaotic fashion, but that’s just the way I like to work.

There are some field recordings on this, did you venture beyond the bedroom?
There's a mixtures of manipulated found sounds and field recordings from the outside world, yes.

You have no plans to tour, do you view the concepts behind the album as being studio based?
It's not like I have no plans to tour as Blanck Mass at all, I just don't have any plans to do so right now. I'm currently focusing my attention into other things and can't be in two places at once, or I haven't figured out how to effectively anyway! Yeah the album is studio based, but the 'songs' don't have to be. We'll see how it's looking when I have a minute to think about it. Certainly not ruling out Blanck Mass live shows. I would enjoy playing the tracks out, that's for sure.

The music is quite ambient, what promoted this?
I have a soft spot for that which is delicate and gentle.

Who do you look for as an influence?
I try not to look too hard for influences. I wasn't really listening to much music around the time of writing these tracks, other than the tracks themselves. I think the result of that kind of practice is a much clearer picture of the artist as an individual. It's pure.

You have spoken about the influence of the natural world, how did this display itself?
My whole life I've had a great fascination with the natural world. It's a strong part of my make up. i think it would be impossible to avoid this theme when writing something on my own in total isolation unless I was making a concerted effort to do so.

You mention in the press release that represents yourself, how is this?
I wrote this record in total isolation. I was spending 14 hours a day working on my own in a dimly lit studio apartment with not a great deal of interaction with was happening in the outside world both culturally and socially. That’s me laid out on a plate.

You mention a sub-conscious guidance, what do you envisage this being?
The parts of my subconscious that might have an influence upon the creative process without me being directly aware of it's input.

Did you find that the creative process bore resemblance automatic writing?
In a sense perhaps. Although automatic writing would suggest not really having to try and closing your mind down whilst ‘something else’ takes over. If that something else was my subconscious, then I guess that could have some relevance to the overall feeling and ideas which were poured into the tracks themselves. If that ‘something else’ was something else metaphysically, then perhaps not.

How did the tie up with Rock Action come about?
The first FB record was produced by John Cummings of Mogwai. After working with John we formed a strong friendship with John and the other guys in Mogwai and FB actually ended up touring the States with Mogwai for a month. When I had finished recording the Blanck Mass record I gave Stuart a copy on a burned CDR at an ATP weekend when we were sharing a chalet and a few weeks later I got a phone call from him saying that Rock Action wanted to do the release. It’s great to work with such close friends and be a part of the family.

Do you plan to continue under the Blanck Mass guise?
Yes, of course. Anything i make on my own is Blanck Mass.

'Blanck Mass' is out now.

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