Fuck Buttons member and solo noise musician Benjamin John Power met David Zammitt to do all the talking
Ben Power, aka Blanck Mass, aka 50% of Fuck Buttons, sits at his desk surrounded by wires, keys and dials. He’s preparing to move out of the temporary Edinburgh apartment himself and his wife have only just begun to call home since relocating north of the border and I get the impression that he’ll be happy to finally be settled. In the background the latter seems to be either unpacking from London or packing for the next stop. An alarm goes off and Ben grows concerned that his agave-glazed parsnips might be burning (“It sounds so unglamorous. They’re amazing though!”) but he’s happy to talk all the same. Somewhere lurks Darwin the cat, the de facto third member of Fuck Buttons. “Well, there’s a fourth member now as Andy’s got a whippet named Polly.” Worcester’s answer to The Beatles, in a way.
Amid the chaos of his temporary lodgings, he’s trying to figure out what the live set for his upcoming gigs is going to look like. It’s no mean feat. While he welcomes the challenge, he knows that translating his latest work to a live setting will be a difficult task; since his solo project’s self-titled debut arrived in 2011, Power’s sound has taken a gargantuan leap forward. Far from the ambience of that first Blanck Mass offering, his new LP, ‘Dumb Flesh’, picks up where the more texturally complex ‘White Math/Polymorph’ EP left off and his armoury of hardware has grown in line with the scale of his soundscapes. There are beats, for a start, and it’s as dance floor-friendly as you’re likely to hear from himself or other Fuck Button Andy Hung, but he’s approaching it with enthusiasm and as he shows me his latest purchase he takes on the tone of a proud father. “Have you seen an OP-1? They’re pretty interesting. It can be used as a synth or a midi controller or a sampler keyboard. It’s pretty impressive.”
A labour of love – with a smattering of frustration – ‘Dumb Flesh’ was fully re-recorded three times before Power signed off on the definitive version, but as he talks about the process he concentrates on what he has gained in terms of experience rather than dwelling on any time lost. It takes the shortcomings of the human body as its theme and with titles like ‘Dead Format’, ‘Atrophies’ and ‘Detritus,’ it won’t come as a surprise that the album brims with crunching electronic brutality. And speaking of crunching electronic brutality, Power hints that there will be more music from himself and his mate Hung at some point in the future, but we’ll just have to wait for more news on that.