fri 19/08/2022

Album: Blanck Mass - In Ferneaux | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Blanck Mass - In Ferneaux

Album: Blanck Mass - In Ferneaux

Healing the disorientation of our pandemic times

In Furneaux by Blanck Mass

John Benjamin Power (formerly half of Fuck Buttons) opens his new opus with glittering synth arpeggios – reminiscent of the Seventies electronica of Tangerine Dream, Manuel Gottsching or Steve Hillage: cosmic dance floor bliss that just keeps coming.

The peals of heart-warming sound are gradually taken over by an invasion of menacing and slightly robotic voices, buried deep in the mix, and inarticulate.

Power is a master of cliff-edge dramatics, and after a celebratory avalanche of sound, the narrative gives way to something radically different, a gentle and beguiling mélange of sounds, dreamy yet familiar, inviting the ear to plunge into a weird and wonderful inner landscape. His journey plunges into meditative melancholia, a disturbing drone that eventually gives birth to (and accompanies) a relentless high BPM dance beat. Power takes us on a voyage that references Detroit Techno as well as more ancient forms of electronica: there is a subtle balance between feeling and abstraction, surface glitter and deep inner-directed exploration.

The album isn’t a series of tracks, but a two-part suite, divided into Phases 1 and 2. The second half of the piece plunges us into a more sombre universe, evoking a troubled soul imprisoned in turmoil. This isn’t easy or feelgood listening: the dark vortex beckons, and works its mesmeric magic. A black street preacher’s voice emerges from the chaos, as if a magician had crossed the traveller’s path. There is a moment of peaceful respite, and then, the darkness and noise take over again. It’s as if Power had decided to descend into some kind of inferno – playfully referenced in the album’s title “In Ferneaux”.

Power made this album during lockdown, and the strange numbness and disorientation of our times is reflected in the music. It’s a numbness with the potential for the illumination that lurks in every shutdown or slough of despond. The piece gradually, at an almost frustrating pace, emerges from the abyss that Power has dared gaze into.  There’s something reminiscent of the resolution that Jon Hopkins evokes in the last part of his 2019 album “Singularity”, except that Power includes mixes into his dénouement a Dionysiac cacophony or strange yelps and percussion. Sampled perhaps from a tribal ceremony, this feels like an exorcism for the inescapable reminder of mortality that the pandemic has conjured in the human imagination. The suite ends in bittersweet resolution, rather than New Age amnesia – and this makes for a journey rooted in the complex realities of the human psyche rather than the rose-tinted hopes of a an unequivocally happy end.

The strange numbness and disorientation of our times is reflected in the music


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Hi, Love the review. great album and fantastic group. Noticed that the review listed the album title as In Furneaux. I have seem other reviews where the title is listed as In Ferneaux. It appears as In Ferneaux on Bandcamp as well.

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