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