Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

Fuck Buttons are a band whose name has always seemed to carry more weight than their actual music. “Fuck Buttons are playing at [insert festival].” “Cool! I really love that song….y’know..that….um…”. Whilst their 2008 debut Street Horrrsing was released to critical acclaim from artsy music types, I personally remained unimpressed. “Sweet Love For Planet Earth” was a simply beautiful, layered piece of work that peaked with some brutal walls of noise, but as far as I was concerned Street Horrrsing was severely lacking. As I am aware that their latest album, Tarot Sport has left some fans split, I have listened to it for quite some time before finally deciding what I think of it. Tarot Sport is simply glorious.

The duo that is FB (Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power) started off attempting to create truly punishing noise tracks, but soon started to experiment with prettier, ambient sounding effects. This combination of the harsh and beautiful is what makes Tarot Sport so effective. Opener and new single, “Surf Solar”, begins the album with fluttering aquatic sounding electronics, before that distinctly 90’s sounding drum beat enters, combined with a glitchy, warbled hook. The main noise propels Surf Solar forward through a lengthy 10 minutes of layered noise and paranoid sounding synths. Whilst the groups first single, at first the song’s main glitchy sound can come across as annoying or repetitive, but frankly repetition is the point. FB intentionally extend their tracks, repeating loops many times in order to build up a wall of noise that has more in common with soundscaping artists like Mogwai than power noise contemporaries like Black Dice or Wolf Eyes.

The mechanical glitch of “Rough Steez” rumbles in, sounding like it has its own robotic heartbeat. It’s still odd, wierd and wonderful, but you wouldn’t have caught FB producing warm hooks like this on their previous effort. The track opens up into its euphoric chorus, before grinding along with more noise and aggression than before.

The track flickers off, leading smoothly into career highlight, “The Lisbon Maru”. If you hear one power electronics song about a Japanese WW2 freighter this year, make it this one. The track opens calmly, almost sounding like the synths of Hung and Power are actually breathing, before breaking into its simply beautiful main hook. Yes, it’s very similar to “Sweet Love For Planet Earth”, but it’s so much more polished. And not in the censored for Radio 2 sort of way, it’s still very much a FB song, but they both seem to share the same sense of sadness that runs throughout. It characteristically builds and builds, warbled keyboards and delayed wails joining in along the way, before finally playing out, aptly, to a military style drum beat.

Straight on to the similarly pitched, “Olympians”. If “The Lisbon Maru” was epic, this is biblical. Cathedral-esque synths play the song in before the duo drop their pulsing power noise over the top of it. Again they manage to convey several different emotions in a song composed entirely of bits and bobs of electronic machinery (the vocals on “Sweet Love…” are notoriously performed live using a children’s toy microphone). The track is complimented by twinkling and a sound that sounds almost like whistling, providing a soundscape that is not only sad and moving ,but also quite breathtaking. It’s not complicated or very technical, some might find it boring, but God it works.

“Phantom Limb” is the oddest track on offer here. A dark, mysterious and harsh track, it broods from the start of the track till the end, glitching and warbling constantly, providing a unique spazz out track to contrast with the rest of Tarot Sport. The track soon finds its own higher plane though, and the glitches and rumbles cut away for a minute or two of uplifting electronics, still glitching and buzzing, but without any of the hostility of the early parts of the track. Space Mountain is the only track that seems to try a little too hard, offering the listener what has already been done on Tarot Sport: building a simple three or four note melody and adding layers and layers of sound. It’s good, and sounds suitably grand, but fails to strike that note of either sadness or joy that FB achieve on the rest of the album. Still, off moments like this aren’t half bad.

Album closer “Flight of the Feathered Serpent” rumbles along with the same urgency as “Surf Solar”, and provides another suitably emotional electro track for Tarot Sport to go out on. As usual the melodies repeat themselves, over and over, to the very edge of boredom, but FB reign it in with layers of fuzzy power noise, ensuring the track has sufficient bite to stand out. The noise cuts out and only the fragile synth is left in front of the 90’s house sounding drums. The duo bring it all together again for a wall of noise finale to see Tarot Sport out suitably.

Tarot Sport is a stunning album from the off, and whilst I know that some fans of the first album see it as too samey or house-orientated, it really is the case that [insert rant on the subjectivity of music here].The only criticisms of the album would be that the band have chosen to leave out vocals altogether, taking away what was for many fans their favourite part of Fuck Buttons’ sound. Also, the band do seem to have found a particular formula and stuck with it for Tarot Sport. However, the fact is that no such music has been made like this all year that sounds this joyous, heartbreaking, or euphoric. Tarot Sport is, for the most part, simply breathtaking.

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-10-19T14:28:49+00:00 rating 4.4 out of 5



One Response about “Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport”

  • Tom Heard says:

    YES! The lack of vocals really put me on a downer but seeing them live just rekindled that love I have for them. One of the AOTY, easily. 🙂