XLR8R - logo

 

Fuck Buttons: A pair of Bristol punks spin ambient electro and vintage synths into apocalyptic chaos.

While Bristol duo Fuck Buttons' latest record, Tarot Sport, might skew toward ambient electro, it's hardly surprising that the band's genesis came during Benjamin Power and Andrew Hung's involvement in the hardcore punk scene as teenagers. “It's informed who I've become as a person somehow,” Power says over the phone from the UK. “We tend to make music that we enjoy, and, in a way, it doesn't really matter what's going on around us. It's not like we wanted to make a record that would appeal to a wider audience. We just sort of stumbled upon these songs.”

The band emerged in 2004, as their synth-tinkering turned from casual hobby to tireless jamming and a methodical approach to song construction. The duo began to draw attention for its caustic soundscapes, vintage electronic tones, and a combination of dark, sometimes off-putting drones and on-tape screaming matches, and after developing a relationship with the All Tomorrow's Parties promoters that resulted in numerous festival dates and a record deal, they released Street Horrrsing, their 2008 debut, which distilled the group's shambolic synth drones into a massively well-received album, equal parts Black Dice and Bruce Haack.



Now, just one year after Horrrsing's unearthing, the band has returned with a more mature statement in Tarot Sport. With fewer of the violent eruptions that characterized their debut, Fuck Buttons has created an environment where songs can explore loose and hazy atmospherics while retaining a solid structural backbone. “The process of writing has stayed intact since day one,” Power says. “We don't build a song around a beat or a melody. It all stems from long jam sessions." These loose song structures manifest themselves in a myriad of ways, from the spacey swell of "Surf Solar" to the robo-techno shuffle of "Rough Steez." Those two worlds collide on the melodic climax of closer "Flight of the Feathered Serpent," culminating in a record that spins tangible feelings from a mountain of synthesizers and drum machines.

In order to maintain that controlled chaos live, Fuck Buttons has left surprisingly little room for improvisation. Instead, they play out their compositions like skilled classical musicians, with bits of songs divided into “phases” that act as a map, guiding the pair through their cavernous pieces. But when the writing process is so loose, details like sequencing and arrangement become crucial, as Power explains. “Our songs go through extreme evolutionary stages, so some songs, from their first manifestations, will change quite a lot up to the tracks that you'll hear now on Tarot Sport. The transitions are just as important to us as the songs itself. The whole ebb and flow of the record is important to us, and the narrative is very strong as well.”

Follow us on...

Get the lowdown weekly newsletter

XLR8R Downloads Player