New Audio: Zola Jesus’ Subtle Yet Eerie Remix of Blanck Mass’ “Please”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Blanck Mass, the solo side project of Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power, and as you may recall 2015’s Dumb Flesh was written and recorded over the course of the preceding year in several different locations — including Power’s Space Mountain Studios, a windowless attic space in Hatch End, North London and his Edinburgh home. Reportedly, frequently changing recording spaces influenced the album’s dark and sprawling compositions, which thematically focused on the inherent frailty of the human body — with the material evoking the sensation that our flesh isn’t enough to protect us from certain catastrophe. Blanck’s critically applauded, third album 2017’s World Eater was inspired by our current sociopolitical climate full of suspicion, teeming anger, despair and anxiety. And as Power has explained in interviews is that the material was meant to evoke a wild, untamed beast chewing and gnawing at civilization and the bonds that hold it together. “The title is a reference to both the inner beast inside human beings that when grouped en-masse stops us from moving forward towards good,” Power explained in press notes.

Interestingly, while on an extensive world tour to support World Eater, an idea emerged to him: that he should throw the album’s material open to other artists’ interpretation — but not with the idea of inviting renowned remixers and producers to retool the material to be more dance floor friendly; rather, Power contacted artists whose work he admired, asking them if they could imbue his work with their own sense of meaning. And with World Eater Re-Voxed, which was released digitally today, the remixers — Zola Jesus, Naked, Gazelle Twin, and M. Lamar have each added their own lyrics and vocals to a World Eater track of their choosing, giving each song a completely different and deeply personal tone and meaning. As Power explains in press notes, “The theme with this remix EP was to see how a group of other artists visualize and reassess my world sonically and more importantly here, lyrically,” Power explains. “The use of human vocals is prominent in my more recent work although I try and steer more towards an emotional language as opposed to conventional syntax, so this was an interesting exercise in interpretation.”

The slow-burning and expansive World Eater single “Please” is arguably one of Power’s more spectral and downright ambient tracks as it features a production consisting of subtle industrial clang and clatter, chopped up vocal samples, stuttering drum programming and swirling, ominous electronics.  Zola Jesus’ remix while cutting the song in half, retains most of Power’s moody and spectral production with the addition of some thumping, tribal-like beats over which the acclaimed Zola Jesus’ vocals ethereally float over. And although Zola Jesus subtly adds her touch to the song, it manages to remain hauntingly eerie, evoking the sense of humanity inching towards the precipice of annihilation, and a plaintive vulnerability.

 

 

 

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