In the dead of winter, alone, Benjamin Power scrawled a poem on sheets of A4 paper using plasma and blood from a failing skin graft on his forearm. The year was 2003; he was eighteen. Seven years later, Power consumed a sizable quantity of sodium hypochlorite. Sometime after he awoke from this he founded Bleach for the Stars, a cyanide concoction of harsh noise, avant-garde electronic, industrial, and dark ambient music. This project reminiscences of Power’s grim past. Each composition is raw like a fresh laceration, corrosive like a swig of bleach. His poetry the grotesque fluids that seep from his wounds and rasp out of his throat. He lays bare before his audience, exposing his anguish and allowing his wounds to fester. His willingness to share shards of his life pent up in the blackened vault of his mind connect listeners to him. It’s a brutal honesty that establishes instant rapport.
The Time for Silver Flowers (Silver Flowers) is Power’s ninth digital release as Bleach for the Stars, but his debut on the fledgling Cromlech Records. It’s a return to his inverted adolescence, that cold winter night among a spectrum of other painful experiences not known. Relative to Power’s previous efforts, Silver Flowers bathes in minimalism. Harsher pangs of static and onslaughts of ear-piercing frequencies are boiled down to brooding soundscapes. Its roots run deeper in dark ambient. Vocals are absent. In their place, a poem – which this record is named after. Bleak these words cast a shadow of despair on the mind, muddling thoughts with a sense of dread. This plus Power’s prevailing minimalism exhibit his mature grappling with the moments that define his youth.
There are four dirges. Each grow in Power’s field of Silver Flowers. Eerie they sway and thump with the pulse of primordial drones. The subtle horrors that lurk beneath this landscape are menacing. They challenge listeners to reflect on the dark and morbid corners that dim their personal inner landscape. The journey across this field is unnerving, but oddly therapeutic.
From the moment Silver Flowers begins, Power’s lulls listeners into a trance. Knocks and creaks on “Ashen Light” swirl in a mystifying loop; dying rays illumine what’s left of this desolate wasteland. It is but an eerie dream. Slow, Power peels back his flesh revealing his past. Static roils sight and sound. He drags listeners into the yawning recesses of his mind. Down “The Wild Vine” time rewinds. Concrete tunnels, unending corridors of nameless wards; listeners are left to grope in the dark. Hollow eyes leer, their fragmented faces moan. To see what Power cannot unsee, his reflection becomes the listener’s own. War drums pound in the abyss. A throng of howls claw at a primal essence. Power beckons listeners forth. Tribal sounding horns calling for them to leap from the precipice. It’s tied off by “Husk Marant”, this harrowing hypnosis. A sheen of synth coats the raw gristle upon which Power walks. Close listeners follow, acidic white noise unfurling before them. It ebbs; respite. Throbbing bass undulates in the void. Cries of agony retch and shriek. It flows, those pangs; a miserable cacophony. Monstrous, listeners are consumed by the maw of time, their memories. Louder the ambience engulfs, a solitude that swallows. It’s dreary, but somehow comforting. These archaic personal boundaries are crossed. His afflictions now tangible, made flesh. A bundle of nerves and vessels unraveled. Silver Flowers is catharsis.
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