Visceral, vitriolic and exhilarating…

Fuck Buttons combined the caustic power of techno and left-field electronica with a post-rock sensibility, showing that dance music could be more than just a 4/4 beat and wonky bassline. In 2011, founding member Benjamin John Power unveiled his solo project Blanck Mass. Like Fuck Buttons it was mordant and devastating. Now Power has released his fourth album, and his most cohesive, and delightful, to date.

After a glitched up spoken word intro, ‘Death Drop’ erupts from the speakers. For the most part it sounds like ‘94 era Prodigy covering Vangelis’ epic ‘Blade Runner End Titles’ with a possessed Regan from the Exorcist on vocals. The star of the show is that bassline - once it kicks in and gets locked into that groove, it’s game over. Nothing else matters. The world fades out for seven minutes, lost to a vitriolic, and exhilarating, experience. This is one of the most visceral and enjoyable songs of the year. This isn’t just an opening track; it’s a statement of intent. It effectively throws down a gauntlet that the rest of the album has to follow, or collapse under the anticipation.

Luckily ‘Animated Violence Mild’ lives up to this opening salvo, but it never quite delivers the same jaw dropping brutality of the opening industrial rave ascetics. ‘House Vs. House’ is a full-on monster, with synths that wouldn’t have been out of place in a ‘90s club/pop banger, but with a backing track of cut up vocals, abrasive breakbeats and filthy baselines.

And this is what Power does best – luring listeners in with incredibly catchy, familiar-feeling melodies, layered with nostalgia, but underpinning it with something harder hitting than it has any right to be. He alludes to a time when club music ruled the charts, but instead of saccharine basslines and mawkish backing tracks he’s delivered an album full of absolute ragers.

Instead of settling for a conventional breakbeat/bassline formula, Power uses cut up synth stabs, vocal samples and short rhythmic loops to create mesmerising and hypnotic music that slowly pulls focus away from the catch synths up front.

When the album ends, it leaves an odd feeling of relief that the unrelenting pummelling is over – like getting off the waltzers at the funfair and feeling all giddy – but also total enchantment, a need to listen again, to check that what you heard and felt was real, that the album wasn’t a fluke. So you press play and start the 50 minute musical battering again. And it wasn’t.

8/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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