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Fuck Buttons
Tarot Sport Stephen Burkett , October 12th, 2009 07:51

Derren Brown can fuck off. He reckons he can control the nation by playing some shit noise with funny swirls? He needs to talk to Fuck Buttons: using some noise and melodies and other stuff that sounds like God cracking his knuckles, they've come up with a staggering piece of art that exerts a curious power over all who listen. It directly makes their life better.

Fuck Buttons' debut, Street Horssing was a maelstrom of noise, perhaps directionless (except for the bit that went doofdoofdoofdoof like a search beacon for eight minutes) but definitely potent thanks to its sheer toothgrind relentlessness. And this is the record where they, with co-conspirator Andrew Weatherall on production duties, claw through the murk of the noise blasts and toss generous handfuls of melody like so many hundreds-and-thousands over the top. No longer aural ASBO merchants they; more scientists who've whipped up something magical that, rather than bullying and punching, cajoles, teases and satisfies on an elemental level.

It's nowhere near as abrasive as Street Horssing, but their maturity in knowing when to hurt and when to heal is what elevates Fuck Buttons effortlessly into the year's canon. Filled as it is with playful tinkles and tidal washes of post-rock sweetness, when they unleash a barrage of noise halfway through 'The Lisbon Maru' it sounds incredibly fresh and vitalising — they're using the same weapons as before, but now Ben Power and Andy Hung have become masters of their discipline. Ninjas of noise, if you will. Deadly bastards of sound. Fucking winners.

The giddy, heavenly euphoria of 'Olympians'' peak is so simple in its beauty that it hits like a dart of pure serotonin. It's common to say that spaced-out, twinkly music like this is like being on drugs or some such clichéd bollocks, but here Fuck Buttons have created something far, far more gorgeous: there are passages on this record, and particularly in 'Olympians', that truly feel like being in love. And that either manifests itself in sheer helpless joy — dance dance dance dance — or that quiet little pinch of sadness that comes the moment you realise the thing you adore will one day die ('Do You Realize??' writ small, essentially). But when this current of ecstasy drips to a close it's replaced by a million pairs of hands clapping in unison, beating out a tribal rhythm to wake some dormant god.

So yeah, it's pretty ace.

Listening to 'The Lisbon Maru' on a nose-to-armpit train is like floating in your own little bubble of safety; the anxious, wired pulse of 'Surf Solar' is a dotted message from a space behind your eyes you never knew existed; letting the frantic 'Space Mountain' lead you gently by the throat simply makes everything OK. Seriously. This song can make your shitty day not matter. It is that powerful.

'Rough Steez' and 'Phantom Limb' are the most recognisable throwbacks to the Buttons' past, all vicious industrial percussion like the painful rumblings of the Iron Giant's innards. They act as bridges between the ever-blossoming – and ever-peaking – textures by providing a gut-punch of rhythm next to the woozy, almost narcotic melodies of 'Space Mountain', and serve to make Tarot Sport a delightfully complete whole.

More than anything, Tarot Sport is a humbling record. Not because of the phenomenal achievement of the two wizards who created it — alongside Weatherall, enjoying something of late-period renaissance — even though that almost goes without saying. But because its universal beauty, the blanket of wonder it comes swaddled in, can and will open something up inside everyone who gives themselves to it. And every song here somehow presents, despite being lyric-less and blessed with non-sequitur songtitles, hope. The only explanation for how Fuck Buttons have done this is… actually, there's no reasonable, rational explanation as to how these two dudes have carved such delightful sculptures out of white noise and heart.

And that's why Tarot Sport is the best record anyone will make for a very, very long time.

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