Fuck Buttons “Slow Focus”

Fuck Buttons

Slow Focus

[ATP; 2013]

Rating: 8.3

Recently while watching Ken Burn’s six part series on the National Parks, I couldn’t help but find myself enamored by the late, great John Muir. I’d heard the name over the years, whether it be his fervent advocacy for preservation or his theories on how mountains were formed (he was correct: glaciers), but I’d never realized the treasure trove of eloquent statements on nature that he left behind. I’ve always believed that God can be best found in his creations – the mountains, the trees, and the animals – and through the documentary, I quickly realized Muir was my prophet.

It was no accident that moments after finishing the episode I decided to listen to Fuck Button’s latest release Slow Focus.  Instantly, the connections between their music and John Muir’s life intertwined in my mind.  In the world of electronic music, Fuck Buttons are bizarre outsiders much like Muir was viewed most of his life.  Both are minimalists by nature, Muir living off what he could find in the Sierra Mountains and Fuck Buttons reliance on whatever “instruments” they can manipulate enough to suit their needs (they’ve been known to use devices ranging from outdated computer software to children’s toys).

Over the past decade we’ve seen Fuck Buttons venture through the unknown, musical explorers without need of a compass.  With their first album, Street Horrrsing, the band was a blunt, in your face noise project, untamed and chaotic from start to finish (it’s also my favorite FB album so GO CHECK IT OUT!).  On their last two albums they’ve veered toward dance music, moving away from the pure carnage while still staying rooted in it.

If Street Horrsing was their lost expedition through the woods, dark and dreary, then Slow Focus is their ascent to the top of Mount Whitney.  While remaining simplistic in their approach, the band has created something as massive and majestic as the Sierra Mountains Muir once wrote so passionately about. Every track starts with a serene landscape, whether it be the bubbling jungle of “Year of the Dog” or the chilling electric wind on “Stalker.”

But the further you traverse into each track, the further from civilization you go, ominous synths hiding behind each tree, crackling distorted beats echoing from some far off cavern.  But once you acclimate yourself to the strange, spacious environs, Fuck Buttons reveal their glorious exultation.  Muir once climbed a tree and clung on to it to see what the must feel like to be a tree during a storm, and a listen to Slow Focus is the same type of soul searching experience (minus the threat of falling to your death).

“Year of the Dog”:

 


Muir once wrote that “In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world” and the same could be said of the remote, dramatic landscapes on Slow Focus. I often find dance/techno music to be a bit predictable these days, but Fuck Buttons have approached the genre in such an unorthodox way that the result is untamed and invigorating. The beats are sporadic and tribal, light-years away from the traditional pulsating dance beat heard in clubs across the country each night.  That’s urban electronica; Fuck Buttons are rural electronica. The synths are crunchy, buzzing, and wild, unlike the crystallized, twinkling, predictable synth lines found in most dance songs.  If you like your electronic music to be conventional and defined like a city grid then stay clear of the erratic terrain found on Slow Focus. But if you’re willing to face the dangerous storm in order to get lost in the beauty of the madness, keep climbing that tree – John Muir would like to welcome you to the remarkable void.

“Stalker”:


About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under Album Review, Best New Albums

One response to “Fuck Buttons “Slow Focus”

  1. The association is insane! I, too, pretty much bow to Muir Woods having gone to Muir Woods National Park and Muir Beach in California.
    I’ve been out to date with music releases this year. :( I know a good number of musicians who have used unconventional, compromised instruments. Gameboy is listed as an instrument to Beck’s album “The Information”. Led Zeppelin recorded something I forgot in a three-story stairwell. Einsturzende Neubauten used construction materials, power tools, and various metal objects as percussions. So yeah, unusual recording techniques are definitely always interesting to listen to. It gives you that wonder, and guessing on the part where the unusual techniques are in effect. And, it tells you that a lot of creative juices are squeezed into when something’s done in an extraordinary way. ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s