Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, your body is a shell, and Ben Power’s new album as Blanck Mass, Dumb Flesh, has as its theme that very subject - the fatty casing of flesh - the body. At Oslo in Hackney, Power heads onstage smiling. The man that used to spend his gigs screaming into Fisher Price toys, opens a beer, positions himself in front of his laptop and gets stuck into a set in which it’s fair to say there’s quite a lot going on - samples, drum machines, modular synth and banging techno that provokes the unsettling feeling that something is approaching.
Power begins with Dumb Flesh opener, ‘Loam’ (a clay-based soil - good for growing certain types of plant, although presumably not the subject of the song in this context) then without a break heads into lead single ‘Dead Format’ (which speaks for itself). He begins to nod, the speakers start to shake, and the crowd begins to nod with him. After the grandiose space opera of his first Blanck Mass LP, Power’s latest, ironically, is more ‘traditional’ fare, much more similar to his output with Andrew Hung in Fuck Buttons. He has turned his gaze from out towards the outer limits, inwards, towards the body - its facets and its limits. From the ambience of 'Loam' to the sinisterisms of 'Cruel Sport', the album provokes the question - if we are who we are, but the body is just a body, what else is in there?
Although at times it feels like there is an inherent nihilism to the sonic landscape of Dumb Flesh, as Power stands on the stage in front of a laptop patching modules together, the lights flash and the floor shakes, one feels like in fact the dumb flesh he’s referring to might in fact be the big mass of bodies bobbing in front of him.