Fuck Buttons’ New Album “Slow Focus” Review

fuck buttons slow focus reviewed bty Northern Transmissions, album comes out July 23 on ATP Recordings

Artist: Fuck Buttons
Title: Slow Focus
Record Label: ATP Records
Rating: 7.0/10

Picture the scene, its last summer, the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, it’s a glorious celebration of all things English. Then comes the flag parade, where every country competing large or small unveils themselves to the world. Perhaps not the most exciting part of the occasion but while nation after nation saunters into view, a dark ambient soundtrack envelopes the athletes stride. Unbeknown to the watching world the music they are hearing is by noisy duo, Fuck Buttons, that’s right Fuck Buttons. If only a billion people knew that they were enjoying the Fuck Buttons experience; covert sonic espionage at its finest.

Following on from the band’s unexpected Olympian endeavour the terrible two have readied their third LP, Slow Focus. Slow being the operative word for Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power’s latest opus, the pair have wheeled out a gnawing grind of electronics that descends like a sonic mist. Slow Focus carries a certain stillness, an eerie tranquillity that spouts menace and tension. ‘Sentients’ is a darker, brooding voyage into post-rocks murkier recesses that invokes Massive Attack during their Mezzanine era. Considering both collectives call Bristol home it’s no surprise they share a sonic template. Fuzzy and abrasive the song unravels at a glacial pace with tripping intermittent beats marking the songs path. ‘Prince’s Prize’ takes a lighter direction with twinkling electronic nuggets which ricochet off buoyant beats, the song itself could easily be a cast off from the days of when the 8bit video game was king.

The electronic troubadours’ latest effort is a record that positions itself in an ever evolving cycle, where the electronics swell and grow but ultimately it feels like treading water in a vast static ocean. Opener ‘Brainfreeze’ and mid album track ‘The Red Wing’, slowly traverse all manner of ambience merged with staccato nuances and heavy curtains of electronic fog. Akin to watching an ice cube melt, sections of Slow Focus edge towards an expansive territory where the band doesn’t seem to be a slave to time.

Not unlike a marathon or triathlon, Slow Focus is an album for the long haul, it’s not quite an endurance test but with songs passing the ten minute mark along with elongated synth-scapes that whir on endlessly in a perpetual loop, the notion of pounding a pavement for 26 miles in the searing heat is a logical comparison. Album closer ‘Hidden XS’ makes a nod to the pair’s expanded aural adventure in title and in duration. The ten minuter is a static drenched schlep that is accompanied by ambient undertones and skittering off beats that sounds like Fuck Buttons have killed dubstep under their imposing musical juggernaut. Unlike the rest of the record that happily manoeuvres at a pedestrian pace, the added injection of pounding beats gives the album a sprint finish albeit with lactic acid burning your ears to cinder.

100m dash fans need not apply, Slow Focus is an album geared for the stamina junkies amongst us.

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Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams

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