Blanck Mass is the solo project of Benjamin John Power, half of British drone outfit Fuck Buttons. Power has so far released three albums under the Blanck Mass alias: ‘Blanck Mass’ (2011), ‘White Math/Polymorph’ (2012) and ‘Dumb Flesh’ (2015), which received rave reviews with Pitchfork stating “… both in Fuck Buttons and as a solo artist, Power’s music has been an exercise in the sweeping emotional and physical power of sound itself.” Latest album ‘World Eater’ is due to be released in early 2017.
As Blanck Mass Power has toured with Jon Hopkins and Sigur Ros, and the track Sundowner from the first Blanck Mass album was used a number of times during the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, including during the parading of the Olympic Flag.
Describing himself as a “multidisciplinary artist,” Russell Haswell has created conceptual art, sculptures, and videos in addition to performances and recordings ranging from harsh computer-generated noise and glitch to industrial and experimental techno. He has collaborated extensively with numerous artists from the experimental music and techno worlds, ranging from Florian Hecker and Masami Akita (Merzbow) to Regis and Powell. He has also participated in collaborative projects such as Consumer Electronics, Senssurround Orchestra, and Autechre offshoot Gescom.
Born in Coventry in 1970, Haswell first emerged in the early ’90s engineering recordings on Mute, and occasionally contributing to albums by the likes of Simon Fisher Turner and Holger Hiller. He appeared on Merzbow’s remix album Scumtron in 1997 and collaborated with Akita (along with Reiko Azuma and Tetsuo Sakaibara) on a 1997 EP titled Ich Schmitt Mich in Den Finger, released by Austrian label Mego. The label released Haswell’s first full-length CD, Live Salvage 1997-2000, in 2001, and the release received an Honorable Mention for Digital Musics from Prix Ars Electronica. In 2002, Warp Records release Haswell and Akita’s collaborative noise album Satanstornade, much to the alarm of anyone expecting techno or IDM. Haswell spent much of the decade working on conceptual projects, curating events, and collaborating with Florian Hecker, with whom he created music utilizing Iannis Xenakis’ UPIC Music Composing System. The two recorded several sessions together that were eventually released on Warner Classics & Jazz (Blackest Ever Black), Warp (UPIC Warp Tracks), and Editions Mego (Kanal Gendyn). Haswell also curated two events for London’s All Tomorrow’s Parties organization, which featured performances by Aphex Twin, Mark Stewart + The Maffia, Robert Hood, and many others.
Haswell returned to releasing solo material in 2008, beginning with Second Live Salvage on Editions Mego. The following year, the label issued Wild Tracks, an album of unedited recordings of insects, aeroplanes, wind, and other non-musical sounds. A double CD of experiments and additional unedited recordings titled Value + Bonus appeared on Carlos Giffoni’s No Fun Productions in 2010. Haswell’s acid techno experiment Acid No!se Synthesis and multi-channel noise LP/DVD In It (Immersive Live Salvage) both arrived on Editions Mego in 2011. Another live collection, Scandinavian Parts (Immersive Live Salvage Supplement), appeared on Sweden’s iDEAL Recordings in 2012. Three more releases exploring Haswell’s techno and experimental influences appeared that year: 5″ Vinyl Series LP and Remixed on Downwards and Factual on Editions Mego. In 2013, Haswell collaborated with Regis (Karl O’Connor) for a project called Concrete Fence; the duo’s New Release (1) EP on PAN provided a more solid techno framework for Haswell’s noise experiments. Also during the year, Convulsive Threshold: Collaborative Work for MP3 Deviations, an LP of live recordings with Japanese glitch pioneer Yasunao Tone, was released by Editions Mego.
Haswell continued to straddle the techno and noise worlds with his 2014 releases. Electroacoustic Sludge Dither Transformation Smear Grind Decomposition nO!se File Exchange Mega Edit, a double CD of intense noise collages assembled by Haswell and Japanese artist Pain Jerk, appeared on Editions Mego, and LP Conceptual nO!se was released by Bocian Records. The more techno-centric but still harsh and uncompromising Double-A 12″ and 37 Minute Workout LP both appeared on Diagonal. In September of 2015, Editions Mego released Haswell’s “Tongue Dancer ’85” single, and Diagonal issued As Sure as Night Follows Day; both releases emphasized beats more than any of his previous recordings, but were still heavily abstracted, deconstructed variations on techno. Autechre, Powell, and Detroit’s DJ Stingray contributed to As Sure as Night Follows Day: Remixes, released by Diagonal at the end of 2015.