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Art by Harry Gassel.
Benjamin John Power has made his name on mayhem. Both solo as Blanck Mass and as one half of the arena-shaking, punk-noise duo Fuck Buttons, he's channeled busted and buzzing electronics into rafter-rattling and dancefloor-destroying forms. Last week he issued World Eater, the latest in a line of solo records that have found him attempting to corral that chaos into more traditionally song-shaped forms. There's still room for brittle noise and pervasive darkness, but the record's a little more structured, pulsing with the density of a neutron star rather than the dangerous disorder some of his past works have made.
As he figures out how to channel this gloom into increasingly affecting assemblages, he also took some time to look back to the roots of his fascinations with the macabre for our latest THUMP mix. Looking back on his history in the punk, metal, and noise scenes, Power's set here pokes at the gnarled connective tissue between those genres and electronic music. Mostly, by Power's track selection, that seems to manifest in the clangorous realms of industrial music, noise, and EBM—there's a machinic track from Coil, chattery body horror from Wolf Eyes, and even a Skinny Puppy jam in the mix.
It's harrowing stuff that just might give you an idea of where the crushing claustrophobia of World Eater comes from, so you'll want to listen here. Power also took the time to answer a few questions about the mix and his history in these darkened realms via email, which you can check out below the mix.
THUMP: How are we meant to enjoy the mix? What's the perfect setting?
Benjamin John Power: As long as you're not listening to this at 6:30 AM (unless you've not been to bed yet!) then anytime time of day is fine. I ended up making this mix at 6:30 AM before going into the studio and do remember questioning whether this was too early to be listening to Skinny Puppy or not.
Is synesthesia a real thing and if so, what color is this mix?
Synesthesia is of course a real thing. An old work colleague of mine used used have a physical association between anything which is a unit (months, weeks, letters, etc) and colors. He could never say my name when speaking to me as the colors of the letters in my name were a nasty color combination. Apparently "Benjamin" has a palette which looks like "red, pale blue, limey green, lilac grey, pink, dark forest green, white and another type of lime green."
My date of birth is apparently much better and perhaps way more suited to this particular mix. it's "White, black, black, purple, brown, dark limey green."
We talked about this mix as conceptually linking electronic music to metal. Where do you see the common ground and how did you reflect that on the mix?
I wanted to focus on the early meeting of electronic music and metal, so there's some quite a bit of industrial stuff on there. There's also some "dark ambient'"stuff on here that obviously draws some type of influence from metal, or has members from metal or associated acts.
Do you have a favorite moment on the mix?
I think the 8-Bit version of Discharge's "The Nightmare Continues" is quite fun.
Tell me a little bit about your upbringing in the punk, metal, and noise scene. How did you get involved there, and how did you transition toward more electronically driven spheres?
Fuck Buttons has always been a punk band for me. When I first started Fuck Buttons, I was at university and had no money at all, so buying equipment usually meant finding the cheapest crap I could in junk shops and car-boot sales to make music with. I guess that's where the bridge between punk/metal and electronica was bridged for me, through noise music.
Do you feel like the music you've made, both with Fuck Buttons and on your own, has been a way of channeling the same feelings and ideas that you felt coming up in those scenes?
Always, yeah. I never went to raves like a lot of other electronic musicians did around me whist growing up. I was always at the punk shows. This is kind of still true.
The history of extreme music obviously weighs heavy on Blanck Mass, and especially on World Eater, but it seems like you're not interested in making something that's purely confrontational either. How do you balance those impulses?
I think it's really due to some kind of subconscious effort to restore a personal balance, but also a heavy interest in the dramatic. Everything I have ever done has an emotional weight.
Somewhat in contrast to these other conversations, there's also moments on World Eater that feel among the most traditionally dancefloor-friendly tracks of anything you've made. How does that square with your interest in heavier music?
I've never made music for the dancefloor but that fact that some of them do translate in those scenarios is great. Head music is not too far removed from body music, they're both very heavily linked. Plus, people move at metal shows.
Gary Numan - "Metal"
Zoviet France - "Mohnomische 7"
Prurient - "Dragonflies To Sew You Up"
Lustmord - "Decompression"
Wolf Eyes - "Human Animal"
Cabaret Voltaire - "Nag, Nag, Nag"
Coil - "Careful What You Wish For"
Shapednoise ft. Justin Broadrick - "Enlightenment"
Skinny Puppy - "Smothered Hope"
Whitehouse - "Dans"
Unknown Artist - Discharge "The Nightmare Continues" 8-bit cover