The road up until this point is a painful one. A story of my own failure. In 2010, I failed to give Luke Abbott the album of the year despite it clearly being the album that most moved me and made me trill with excitement for the future of music. In 2014, I yet again let my head rule my heart and I relegated Clark and Kiasmos despite either one deserving the number one position. The road up until this point is, frankly, a shambles.
In 2015, right here, right now, I will atone for my mistakes by making an utterly heart-felt decision. This year’s number one album is the one that thrilled me, that sent my belly a-quiver, that made me do a little poop in my head with terror: this year’s number one album is Dumb Flesh by Blanck Mass.
1 – Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh (Sacred Bones Records)
Blanck Mass is Benjamin John Power from F*ck Buttons (excuse the blog filter asterisk) and this does indeed sound like a development of their Slow Focus album. Dumb Flesh starts with the loping reversed vocal of Loam before exploding into the throbbing electro workout of Dead Format, complete with hand-clap snares. We're talking full-on overblown. No Lite is more careful to begin with, stacking things up over a ten minute period as it peaks in bleeping triumph as the beat refuses to relent.
The first twenty minutes done, with the listener exhausted, the album tones things down. The toe-tapping Atrophies follows a simple theme: slow and considered. The moody Cruel Sport can't hold it in though, and it allows in the epic chords that greeted us earlier in the album: a central theme that makes Dumb Flesh greater than the sum of its fatty parts.
Double Cross is almost electro-pop, and even allows for a cheery fourth-bar snare fill. As with Atrophies, Lung allows for some breathing space (sorry) and a little creepy groaning for good measure. And then the final ten minutes: their masterpiece Detritus. We start amid scraping white noise that seems to last forever, and then... and then, swooping from the darkest recesses, the anthemnic organ-crashing ending promised by so much by that which came before.
The industrial Front 242-isms referenced throughout are a little before my time: I can see why fellow journos a bit older than me are frothing at their mouths at this. But it has split opinion too, proving a little too one-note for many. The Observer said these "bombastic modular synth symphonies owes more to Queen’s One Vision than it does to Kraftwerk’s Man Machine.” The Observer are idiots.
What I hear in Dumb Flesh is a glorious energy, a broad-strokes sound that takes some getting used to, and the one album I have returned to most in 2015. I said this would be a heart-over-head decision, but maybe more than anything else, this is a head-trip: a body-physical album that leaves your emotions tearing along a few desperate steps behind.
Thanks for reading my blog in 2015. Eleven years and counting. See the whole of this year's top ten, as ever, by clicking this magic link - and below that, Dead Format:
-----> Best electronic albums of 2015 <-----