Fuck Buttons
Tarot Sport ATP http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton9846_0.jpg

[ATP; 2009]

Rating: 4/5 4 / 5 (0)

Styles: electronic
Others: Black Dice, Stars of the Lid


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/

Only on their second album and the appropriately named Fuck Buttons have already carved a niche for themselves. Well, maybe not “carved” so much as ripped or exploded. 2008’s Street Horrrsing was one of those totally expected unexpected sleeper hits. The album was too ambitious — too frightening, even — to go ignored. Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power are less musicians than mad scientists, creating emotions instead of songs — anxiety-ridden, manic depressive, neurotic. Tarot Sport refines their debut, fills it with terrifying climaxes and crushing lows.

“Surf Solar,” the first single, contains this entire spectrum of feeling. The song opens with roughly two minutes of ambience that sounds like the band searching in the dark for the light switch. It’s hard to tell how many different sounds are happening in this initial introduction, and it's even harder to believe it’s only two people making this much clatter. Finally drums come in, twisted, alien drums, that make you realize the song is about terror and darkness, not the kind of peaceful calm promised by the opening. From here, the group continues layering more and more noise, reaching their apogee at seven-minutes. By this point, there’s so much sound that the song almost begins to obscure itself in silence. Fuck Buttons have so slowly progressed into this realm of horror that you hardly realize you were scared until the track begins to fade out.

And at the other pole, we have absolute calm. Tarot Sport is supported by its two almost 11-minute tracks, the opener and “Olympians.” The song takes several minutes to find its way, and when it does, it follows a similar path as “Surf Solar”: constructing a totalizing emotion with a sound that continues to rise in intensity. Yet the format is turned in on itself — the emotions it creates are the other side of the mirror of “Surf Solar.” While the climax comes again at seven minutes -- with a fuzzy synthesizer overpowering everything else -- you don't feel horrified; you feel inspired and peaceful. Indeed, Fuck Buttons have deconstructed themselves.

That’s no easy task. It takes true self-consciousness to convey opposite emotions in the exact same way, and it requires a great deal from the listener. A casual listen of this album is a poor one indeed. As background music, the songs sound like they require vocals, the melodies sound predictable, and all those layers of noise become lost in the ether. Yet, when you’re really paying attention, the movement of feeling on Tarot Sport is entirely captivating. The album will guide you into feeling however Fuck Buttons want you to feel, much in the same way that Brian Eno manipulated his audience’s feelings through his experimental works.

Yes, that’s hyperbolic. Tarot Sport ain’t Another Green World — fuck, it ain’t even Ambient 4: On Land — but it is a strong album from start finish, nearly cinematic in its cohesiveness. Even the shorter tracks manage to feel more economical than time-killing. “Phanton Limb,” the most percussive and rhythmic song on the album, consolidates the terror of “Surf Solar” to five minutes — it'd be too frightening to listen to if it weren’t so easy to dance along with. “Rough Steez” sounds like British Invasion rock coming from outer space instead of England. It distorts convention by giving into convention. No, there aren’t any songs to rival “Surf Solar” and “Olympians,” but each song still requires fervently close listening. It's an exhausting experience, but a liberating one: For about an hour, if you can allow Fuck Buttons to control your responses, to embrace the clusterfuck of noise and emotion, then Tarot Sport might be one of the strongest albums of this year.

1. Surf Solar
2. Rough Steez
3. The Lisbon Maru
4. Olympians
5. Phantom Limb
6. Space Mountain
7. Flight Of The Feathered Serpent


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