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CD: Editors – The Blanck Mass Sessions | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Editors – The Blanck Mass Sessions

CD: Editors – The Blanck Mass Sessions

An interesting collaboration plays it surprisingly safe

Editors: not unsuccessful, but not exciting either

Editors’ last album, the electronic-infused Violence, was hailed as a big departure for the indie rock band on its release a little over a year ago. It wasn’t really, it was simply the latest stage of a transformation that can be traced back to guitarist Chris Urbanowicz’s 2012 departure, and first came to light on 2015’s In Dream

For their 2018 release, the band handed over complete control of the production process to Blanck Mass, otherwise known as Ben Power of electronic drone duo Fuck Buttons. It was a fairly ballsy move by the band to offer their songs as a Blanck canvas – the producer’s own productions veer from delicate static-infused abstractions to musique concrète blocks that smash their way into your head. 

In the end, however, the resulting versions were smoothed out for the full release. Now the band have decided to release the original mixes, plus one new song, into the world. As “Barricades” begins, what is immediately apparent is how much Mr Mass appears to be holding back. When Andrew Weatherall remixed “I’m Losing More than I’ll Ever Have” for Primal Scream’s genre-defining single “Loaded”, he was famously told by Andrew Innes to “just fucking destroy it”. No such instruction appears to have been given here, and the results are surprisingly safe. 

“Hallelujah (So Low)” retains its Muse-without-the-tin-hat bombast, but with a more measured, less explosive delivery. There is some grade A production technique on display here, but it’s at the expense of any downtime whatsover. For every gap, there’s a synth to stuff in there. 

This tendency to compress the living daylights out of every sound in the palette is, at times, painfully reminiscent of the worst excesses of EDM and the result makes for occasionally exhausting listening. If the original intention was to produce an album that could work live and also be enjoyed by sweaty people in small, dark rooms, then it’s job done – as long as the small dark room in question is in a provincial leisure centre and hosting a spin class. 

There are plus points, of course. The crunchy percussion and sonic scaffolding offer a good platform for singer Tom Smith’s rich voice, and there are glints here and there (the chug-and-drift push-pull of “Nothingness” for example) of something genuinely interesting. The Blanck Mass Sessions is by no means an unsuccessful release, it’s just nowhere near as exciting as it could be.

@jahshabby

 

There is some grade A production technique on display, but it’s at the expense of any downtime

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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