Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

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How am I meant to write this review? F*** Buttons? Fudge Buttons? FB? Whatever. Fuck Buttons made big waves a few years ago with Tarot Sport, an album from an experimental electronic band that was apparently accessible enough to make it onto the Olympics soundtrack last year, and now they’re back with Slow Focus, a record that promises to once again change their sound and expand into new territory for the duo.

We have ambient sections. We have noise. We have tribal drumming to lead us into the album. The songs are long and repetitive, but in a droneish way that can leave a listener locked in long after the song is over – Hidden XS is one such example that really hypnotises. On Sentients Aphex Twin-esque whirrs and beeps flitter across a menacing beat and a distorted vocal, whilst the song that follows it begins with a complex synth line swathed in ring modulation. The message is very clear – Fuck Buttons are pushing the envelope ever-further with each album, trying to blend the dark, haunting ambience of recent successes such as The Haxan Cloak with their own manic take on IDM and modern electronic. The great thing of course is that it works, and tremendously so – the hooks vary between lush and beautiful and break-your-back cutting, but always memorable and engaging, whilst the textures are full of micro-melodies that appear refreshed on each listen – it’s one of those albums that reveals itself more with each listen.

The lack of vocals for the majority of the album is replaced, in the post-rock fashion, with gradual builds in texture and volume to create emotional climaxes, such as on the opener Brainfreeze, which sirens the album’s arrival with gusto before fading in the last minute, before the whirlwind of Year of the Dog assaults with its eery pads and diamond-sharp arpeggios. Despite all this emotional battery, the record has a real feeling of emptiness and solace to it, contrasting with the rave-happy vibes of Tarot Sport; it calls to mind the emptiness of space, the sense of being alone with just the music.  Whether you personally like that idea is opinion, but I find it to be at times a very affecting record, exploring many new ideas and covering a vast array of different styles to create a brand new synthesis of electronic music, from R&B beats to grating noise and pulsing bass. Fuck Buttons have hit upon a sublime formula that sticks – I’m just hoping somebody gives a fuck.

8/10

Released 22/7/13 on ATP Recordings

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I'm "that guy". The guy that knows just a bit too much about music. You may well find me listening to drone metal or free jazz. Whether that's a good or bad thing is your decision. Call me!

1 Comment

  1. avatar

    Excellent review; the album definitely does immerse you in to its own world, it’s an album worthy of full and repeat listens to let the album fully sink in. Really good work 🙂

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