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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Slow Focus
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on 21 October 2013
So I came to this release having got over the embarrassingly juvenile band name and being the owner of both Street Horrsing and Tarot Sport. The short clips on Amazon are never going to be much of a clue as to whether to splash-the-cash when you are talking about lengthy compositions welded together and so I returned to the two previous albums and gave them a listen (which hadn't happened in a while).

I love the concept of FBs. I love the noises. I love the songs. The problem with the last two albums for me was that, when the songs were lined up back-to-back, it resulted in an aural assault with little variation of light and shade and by album's end, I was always screaming for less. Now don't get me wrong. I'm as noise-addicted and discordant as the next guy - if the next guy happens to love Autechre as much as I do. The albums weren't so much 'nosebleed' as 'bleeding out through the nose'.

What finally drove me to buy this was the (excellent) review by the two dudes at velocitiesinmusic on u-tube who made me realise that this album actually has...LOW FREQUENCIES. Did they get a new piece of kit ? This was what was lacking in the last two album releases. Furthermore, they are used to such great effect on each track that this feels like...(drumroll plz)...an album...with each track having some respect for the previous one rather than being a variation on it. Overall, the album has the right length, the right blend and sufficient variation for this type of barely-controlled, flailing, abrasive noise. At the album's end, I can even contemplate listening to it again...remarkable.

I really do feel that this is an important progression and I doubt that I'll be so hesitant when the next album comes around.
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on 22 July 2013
Slow Focus is the colossal third album from post-rock Bristol duo F*** Buttons.

Inkeeping with their previous records, F*** Buttons come back in scintillating style; with a little more bling. This is not a post-apocalyptic record; its simply apocalyptic. Unlike the recent Boards of Canada album, 'Slow Focus' feels like you are in the event, not just watching it from afar. It's intensity and complexity is captivating right from the off as we are propelled into the tribal 'Brainfreeze' that echoes a distant pagan time. From there on the pistons don't really stop until the final few moments of 'Hidden XS', the album's closer. Tracks are best experienced loud (however which way you can) and without interruption; it's the beautiful progress and structure of these records that set F*** Buttons apart.

No words may do justice to this immersive record that flirts with contradiction; how can music so lush and textured with complexity leave such a wide expanse of space for the mind to traverse in? And how can a record slide so unassumingly from monotonous repetition to divine detail and intricacy? It is perhaps this dialectic that has allowed Ben John Power and Andrew Hung to simultaneously delight both the live masses and the introspective-bedroom-ravers.

The dichotomy runs deep into their influences. In a recent Fact Mag interview when asked on the meaning for the title of 'The Red Wing', one of the albums most evocative tracks, Ben assertively claimed that it was "like you were walking round a deserted city, like a collapsed, deserted city". This clinical description is antagonistically worlds apart from Andrew's vacant ambiguity: "...music would evoke different imagery for people...I wouldn't want to impose that, even though those images are strong...".

Only a month ago Mike Sandison left a strikingly similar explanation of this post-apocalyptic soundscape: "it's better if listeners find the narrative themselves, in the titles and the sounds".

So perhaps its not a coincidence that Andrew Hung had a slightly more warped set of influences; whereas Benjamin John Power was an outspoken, anarchistic punk-rocker. Where their influences meet is somewhere at the pluralistic, postmodern genre defying "shoegaze". Think Explosions In The Sky but with a synthetic and urgent infusion.

If you are fortunate enough to have seen them live (and loud), Andrew and Ben's musical abrasion is not apparent on stage; instead they play at each other on a ping-pong table as they smash ideas back and forth - this is as we understand, much like their creation progress whereby they "don't really need to communicate verbally" or are physically able to with the volume cranked up. And if you haven't had such an opportunity you may have already done so, unaware, whilst watching the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics; their music was chosen extensively to fit the grandiose and awe-inspiring introduction; 'Surf Solar' kicked the whole thing off. 'Olympians' indeed.

Having released Street Horrrsing and Tarot Sport within a year of each other it has been a long wait for their devoted followers. Whilst the appetite has been partially satisfied in the last four years with this drony side-project, this new release could in fact be the most important electronic album the year and should resonate for some time too.

When in the right head-space this music will blow your mind.

Listen To: Brainfreeze, The Red Wing, Stalker, Hidden XS

Stand Out Track: Stalker
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on 15 October 2014
I had originally missed this release and was delightfully surprised to see another F*ck Buttons (as it appears on the sticker XD) album I was not expecting. Still swaying along to Blank Mass' last EP I was eager to hear what sonic-scapes the team have made for me under their original name... wow.
I have to admit to rationing myself to Brainfreeze. As an experience it is an assault but one that empowers and uplifts and almost induces a psychotic episode. I have fallen more in love with Re Wing over time, it has a sweetness to it. The first time I heard Princes Prize I was compacted into a Nintendo, shaken up vigorously and poured out as a mess of sprites.
This album has stronger links with earlier work, it has more of Street Horsing than Tarot Sport, however each track does read together as a potential narrative. The title is apt, each sequence evolving, changing throughout the piece but never a complete crescendo or total resolution. I am left asking questions, or in a state of mild bewilderment that is pleasing to a weirdy beardy creative such as myself XD
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on 6 February 2014
Tarot Sport there last album is for me one of the best albums I've heard, it forward thinking, original, challenging and uplifting. It would be a task to improve on that, but Slow Focus makes no attempt to repeat the formula, they take a darker, even more intense and experimental approach. Whilst still combining elements of post rock, shoegaze with electronica and techno, there is a harder hip-hop and industrial core to this album. Tracks such as Red Wing kick off with a stomping abrupt hip-hop beat and evolve into swirls of noise and climate into a wall of sound as expected from the F Buttons, where as Hidden XS start much slower and almost tranquil before exploding into moments you'd never expect unless your familiar with the F Buttons. Much recommended for anyone with an open mind to new, innovative music.
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on 15 January 2014
Aggressive attacking moody and intelligent, this isn't music to listen to, this is music that grabs you by the throat and twists your head around to stare right into your eyes and dare you to turn away! Brilliant
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on 22 January 2015
I have to disagree with the 2-star reviewer. I personally find this album much more varied and interesting than Tarot Sport. This album is much more focused and there's a real sense of power and purpose in the writing/arranging. There's a dark, griminess to it that captivates, and mesmerises. Beautiful artwork as always with FB.
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on 8 September 2013
I have always enjoyed the Buttons and was looking forward to their next piece of work. I'm pleased to say that is an excellent album. They have carried on from where they last left off (Electronica) without being too experiemental in their format. Typically lenghty tracks that build with layered complexity.
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on 22 July 2013
When Bristol duo F... Buttons came along in 2008 with debut album "Street Horrrsing" and 2009's follow up "Tarot Sport" they gave Electronic music a much needed kick up the back side, they didn't sound like any other band at the time and not only was "tarot Sport" one of that year's best albums it was also one of the Decades best. It's now been four years since that album and of course in between their music was famously used in the 2012 Olympic Games, with "Surf Solar" and the epic "Olympians" both been used. Any chance of the duo deciding to cash in on Olympic success is completely debunked by listening to their new album "Slow Focus", an album that shows they still make electronic music like no one else.

Beginning with the tribal drum beats of album opener "Brainfreeze" before the duos now familiar electronic noise sound creeps in sets this album up nicely, any thought that the band would shorten their songs are completely debunked, not for them 3 minutes short snippets of electronic sounds as what you mainly get are between 4 and 11 minute pieces of music that are like epic journeys taking the listener on a ride you won't forget like the final two tracks on the album the haunting "Stalker" and "Hidden XS". Then there is the brilliant and eerie "Sentients" which brings visions of a 1970's Michael Myers walking down an American neighbourhood after a group of teenage kids.

F... Buttons have now released three fine albums in a row and are proof that there is still plenty of room for experimenting in Electronic music. In a year that has already seen some great releases "Slow Focus" is right up there with the best of them
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on 29 February 2016
This stuff feeds something primitive that lurks in the recesses of the psyche. The slow building aggression on some of the tracks - especially Sentinents - makes your head swim. Don't listen to it while driving! Ferocious and fantastic!
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on 29 December 2013
Having only recently discovered FB's I'm quite blown a way by this gem of an album. So far it's my favourite of all 3 albums. Looking forward to future works. Thanks guys!
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