The cover of ‘Slow Focus’, Fuck Buttons’ third album, appears so dull and uninviting as to only invite trepidation as to what it may conceal within. I should have learnt my lesson with misleading covers by now, I suppose.
Because within the contents are otherworldly, embracing, and vast. The Bristolian duo of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power eschew the grimier aspects of Skrillex or – Hung favourite – Aphex Twin, favouring more a graceful, classy tower of building noise. It is simultaneously a car drive through a rainy London night and watching the sunset off a Welsh coastline cliff.
‘Stalker’ contains Tyler the Creator style-menace, whilst bringing together Giorgio Moroder and Air mid-panic attack. ‘Hidden XS’, through its Jean Michel-Jarre atmospherics, glories in a Sartrean positive emptiness – it acknowledges its own lack of existence in the mirror, and walks on. Existentialism by technonanimity.
The – presumably innocenltly – appositely-named ‘Prince’s Prize’ nears dubstep but won’t let you go all the way; ‘Sentients’ all metaphysical resonance, intense, foreboding; ‘Year Of The Dog’ loses nothing by reminiscing purple-period Pink Floyd with chattering aliens directing in the control room. Album highlight ‘The Red Wing’ combines the Wu-Tang Clan’s feeling of filmic threat with Orbital’s more lacerating relentlessness, to create what feels like a masterpiece.
With barely a track under ten minutes, and not a vocal in earshot, Slow Focus maintains and embellishes Fuck Buttons’ integrity thoroughly, and with intent. London Olympics showcases and a headline slot on the Glastonbury Park Stage can’t hurt any more than their name under Dave Cameron’s new stand-your-ground-by-stealth internet nannying, and fear of having the perv-police break down your door – but Fuck Buttons comfortably raise a finger with grace and poise through a sublime electronic noise.
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