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Album Review: Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

OK kids, get your giggles out. Yes, this duo from the UK, comprised of one Andrew Hung and one Benjamin John Power, is called Fuck Buttons (Wiki). Ludicrous name. But to the matter at hand. This week, a copy of their debut full-length called “Street Horrrsing” dropped in my mailbox and I popped it in for a listen.

If you aren’t ready to be immersed and engulfed by sound, or despise repetition and noise, please turn this review off now.

For those of you who stuck around, Fuck Buttons’ debut album is 50 minutes of experimental aural immersion. It’s like watching the sunrise at the end of the world perched on a precipice in some exotic mountain-range…or just running around the city on little-to-no sleep.

Their music combines abrasive and aggressive elements (muted-screech-and-scream vocals, driving tribal percussion) with the mesmerizing and soothing elements of looped synths or fuzzed-out static noise and drone. Often the effect is an odd, serene beauty laden with tension and dark undertones, as if a steady dirge in anticipation of the death of some unknown aspect of humanity.

Described as electro-psych-drone, Fuck Buttons deliver tracks that are well-metered and absolutely mesmerizing. But this is not music for the impatient. There are only 6 tracks on the album, with 5 clocking in at-or-above 8 minutes in length. Not so easily digested, the tracks individually don’t necessarily blow you away. But when you sit and listen to the album in its entirety, the effect is profound.

The twinkling keys that begin the album on lead track “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” are a gentle, innocent introduction into Fuck Buttons’ dystopic album and world. Their patent drone enters aligned with the keys, but eventually taking it over as the lead musical voice (one of their most effective techniques, blending drone). Wailing vocals lend a sense of turmoil beneath the swirling mix of drone and keys.

The simplest, shortest track “Ribs Out” is one of the most haunting I’ve heard in ages. It recalls some demonic ritual in the depths of an unknown rainforest with reverbing primal yelps and screams set upon a tribal beat that sounds like chattering bones are being used for drum sticks.

Fuck Buttons – Bright Tomorrow

The much previewed and lauded first single “Bright Tomorrow” presents probably the most uplifting moments thanks to the bright keyboard line and major key drone that enters near the 3 minute mark. But eventually the track turns to a darker, more crushing drone that provides a perfect leads into the final track, “Colours Move.” My personal favorite, this final track absolutely soars and destroys. The couplet of the last two tracks reminds me very much of Danny Boyle‘s 2007 film Sunshine, where a group of astronauts 50 years in the future attempts to re-ignite our dying sun.

And I couldn’t think of a more appropriate parallel; Fuck Buttons very well may reignite the power of experimental and noise music for many and stand as a shining example of its versatility and viability. Fuck Buttons open for fellow noise-nik Caribou (Wiki) on March 21st when they hit Rock and Roll Hotel in DC. Their debut LP, Street Horrrsing drops in the States on March 18th.

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