Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus

Slow Focus... Bring da mother-ruckin' focus

Review: Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

Published on July 24th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

If we were to censor Fuck Buttons, we’d definitely call them Funk Buntons. We don’t, though, so let’s just get on with describing the Bristol duo’s third album Slow Focus.

Slow Focus might feel mired in its own consistency of mood were there not so much going on when you observe it under an aural microscope; that is, the relentlessness with which they pursue portentousness and menace might conceivably weary were it stripped of its more cross-sensory elements.

Set-opener “Brainfreeze” grinds, whirs and thumps but all as part of a compelling propulsive groove that overrides the tumult merely by underpinning it.

Thick synth pads soar majestically overhead, Fuck Buttons wasting no time in sweeping you away so that you are powerless to resist when proceedings take an Add N to (X)-ish turn for the sinister.

Everything then comes together, rumbles off into bleeptown while indiscriminately ploughing all before it, then swooshes off into the ether; and yes, we did think twice about writing ‘bleeptown’.

Onto “Year of the Dog”, where buzzing arpeggios of synth make the ravers flee in terror before being consumed by pulsating bass action…and then it’s back into that chirruping wilderness, where we await the arrival of “The Red Wing”, which twitters on its squeaky hinges as if it’s riding a blazing travelator through some nightmarish jungle.

See, that’s what’s so great about Fuck Buttons: they make you write weird stuff like that.

About that jungle; it’s full of glaring, noise-making creatures and elements that accumulate into something all-consuming, a climactic dynamic that reformulates Boards of Canada into some kind of dark rapture.

Despite the artifice of similarity, each track is noteworthy in its own way: the sinisterly swooping fantasia of synth strings returns to descend upon “Sentients”, “Prince’s Prize” pits juddering 3D shapes against splashes of cartoon ray gun, and “Stalker”…

…blimey, “Stalker”: “Stalker” sleepily pounds its mighty fists to shoo the swarm of sticky, glitchy electronic insects that have set about it, but cannot prevent those strings from once again descending.

Instead it decides to roll with the punches, putting a crescendo on it that’s better than any ‘donk’ you could care to mention. Curtain-closer “Hidden XS” is perhaps one dark, twisted fantasy too many but at least it justifies its presence by dint of being so darned epic.

Much of Slow Focus sounds halfway between ushering in either the apocalypse or a new age of enlightenment. The contrasts may be confusing but you’ve got to take your hat off to them for eliciting such strongly visual responses.

Slow Focus is out now on ATP Recordings.

You can buy Slow Focus on iTunes and on Amazon.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.