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

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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.

Booby Davidson
Oct 12, 2009 4:19pm

'Fucking winners'. This is an appalling review. It contains several sentences that prove that the author is a comedian of the highest order. I haven't heard the record. I never had any intention of listening to it and I certainly have no intention of bothering after reading this bilge. Then again, it does seem more and more obvious that there is no point in any of this 'art' guff anyway.

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Luke Turner
Oct 12, 2009 4:37pm

That's it Booby, you go back to your Kasabian records...

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The Dung Beatle
Oct 12, 2009 4:49pm

bring on the flying v's, a pair of shopsoiled rugby boots and a marshall valvestate amp with the number 'boring' written on it.

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NotManyExpertsPhil
Oct 12, 2009 8:19pm

Personally, I thought it was a great review. Fucking winner, actually.

"there is no point in any of this 'art' guff anyway". Oh dear! Why are you on a proper music website? Could you not find nme.com in google?

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Fred Zeppelin
Oct 12, 2009 9:54pm

Oh, cock off, Booby. It's actually a pretty bang on review of a quite incredible album. Fuck Buttons have improved on their debut album by some quite considerable margin while upping the stakes for modern music. This is what 21st century music should sound like.

You carry on ignoring it and go back to whatever "proper choons" float your unadventurous boat. And be sure to keep in touch with yourself.

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Brad
Oct 12, 2009 10:47pm

Yes Booby, best stick with your Roy Chubby Brown dvds. Learn some manners, mate!

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John of Sydney
Oct 13, 2009 12:43am

Lazy reviewing resulting in abject nonsense. Fuck Button's maelstrom of sound deserves serious analysis, not this tenuous flim-flam.

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The Dung Beatle
Oct 13, 2009 7:45am

I'm a chilled-out kind of guy, you all know that, but reading these comments, even my own, fills me with unfathomable rage.

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John Doran
Oct 13, 2009 10:24am

Great review this.

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Job
Oct 13, 2009 12:24pm

Too bad it's getting al rapturous over a pretty formulaic record featuring such grating digital sounds and obvious melodies.

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JugheadsJonesin
Oct 13, 2009 8:08pm

1st of all, this is a phenomenal record. Secondly, this reviewer is asinine, although maybe that's just my reaction to the "cheekiness" of british journalism, which I personally think is corny. Thirdly, John of Sydney (below) summed it up best by saying that this is a serious album deserving serious analysis, like the kind of analysis given to film;electronic media criticism, not "cheeky" pseudo-criticism/online journalism.

Street Horrsing and Tarot Sport are cinematic in scope, and I honestly think that not liking them is the result of a)being a pleb b) not giving it a chance or c) expecting them to sound like anything else that you have heard. Don't expect it to sound like rock, don't expect it to sound like techno, don't expect it to sound like harsh noise. This is post-modern music (not modern) and it deserves to only be listened to and commented on by those that understand postmodernism.

I would like to reiterate though that I agree with anyone who thinks the quality of writing in this review is subpar - english cheekiness has no place in reviewing epic, transcendental, sublime art. Even Booby Davidson, who is apparently afraid and intimidated by art. (Although I can't blame you for having a low oppinion of art after surveying the majority of the YBA movement's work.)

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JugheadsJonesin
Oct 13, 2009 8:08pm

In reply to Job:

BTW: What formula are they using?

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Luke Turner
Oct 13, 2009 8:46pm

In reply to JugheadsJonesin:

Hullo Jugsheads, are you American? Part of the reason we set up the Quietus was to showcase writing that was passionate without being overly first personal, and not overly dry and academic. However, if you wander around the site, you will find plenty of pieces that are more "serious", as you put it. Lighten up, old boy!

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Laurence Davison
Oct 13, 2009 10:38pm

In reply to JugheadsJonesin:

There's a certain irony in the way that your first paragraph describes the review as "asinine" (long a favourite term of abuse among the terminally pseud-ish) while your second and third provide a kind of review of the album which I would have to describe as "shit".

I mean, really: "it deserves to only be listened to and commented on by those that understand postmodernism". You are 15 aren't you? Come on, you can admit it - you're among friends.

Oh, also you talk about Tarot Sport and Street Horrsing then use the pronoun "it". So technically we don't even know which album we aren't allowed to listen to - can you please clarify because I'm only half way through my copy of The Best Of Derrida and I'd hate to get ahead of myself.

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James Holloway
Oct 14, 2009 12:06pm

Love it. Had it on repeat all day. Just washes over you, it's funny that whenever i see them live they never seem able to pull off the same magic. Alas. They're thoroughly nice chaps too. Andrew Hung used to serve me pints in 'The Croft' in Bristol.

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Mat D
Oct 14, 2009 9:15pm

I always thought that Fuck Buttons knew what they were doing, perhaps a bit too well. Presses all the right buttons without penetrating.Also a little bit too much of the dewy morning, weepy eyed sentimentalism in there. Mastery of the delay pedal does not an intelligent artist make.

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Qatari Luke
Oct 15, 2009 9:29pm

I finished listening to this album, let the shock of it subside, searched for reviews to see if anyone could put into words what I thought/felt/etc, and this came closest. Thank fuck there are people more eloquent than me (we'd be in a state if there weren't), and thank fuck for Fuck Buttons.

I listened to it on vinyl (it's on 2 LPs)and I think getting up and swap sides just made me appreciate it more. It seperates the album in to 4 movements like a 4 course meal, all of which work brilliantly independently (obviously) but also combine to make one just straight up incredible whole. I'm sure if i read this back tomorrow I'll think I sound like an overly effervescent twat, but right now I don't care. I'm still in shock.

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Roar
Oct 16, 2009 2:08pm

Listened to street horssing and thought they were simply too boring, dragging out each idea until you were thoroughly sick of it before moving on to the next. This is the wonderful relentlessness referred to when reviewers get hold of them. don't get me wrong, i like a good repetition as much as the next guy, say spacemen 3 doing 10 mins of suicide and then the live version on the same album, great. Why? cos of the energy emitted. Street horssing didn't have this energy. But it sounds like this one does so i will give it a go.

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Phil Johnson
Oct 27, 2009 4:59pm

Olympians is the best track of the year so far
play full volume while driving !

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Louis
Oct 30, 2009 9:43am

I thought this was a great fucking review. I read it first when published and have just read it again. I've been spinning this record since it's release and have seen these guys live and will see them again in December. The reviewer nailed the sentiments perfectly. For the Kasabian fans who posted always remember; "If you don't get it, you weren't meant to".

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Sep 21, 2013 11:53pm

F/b ?

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