Sunday, October 18, 2009

Warning! Warning! Contains language that might offend!

When I saw a review in a Melbourne newspaper the other day for a band called “The F- Buttons”, I thought it was a bit of an odd name for a band – but then odd band names are not that odd, so I didn’t give it a great deal of thought until I heard them again on PBS last night and realised that they are actually called The Fuck Buttons. It did leave me wondering a little about why there still seems to be a need to protect us from some “coarse” words, and yet we never seemed to get forewarned about the much more offensive (in my opinion) language in a speech by someone like George W Bush, let alone have the words presented to us with most of their letters missing.

But, be that as it may, the Fuck Buttons sounded fantastic, so today I decided to buy their debut album, Street Horrrsing. With a name like Fuck Buttons, you’d expect a surge of Sex Pistolesque punk but, in fact, Street Horrrsing begins with gentle little tingling sounds that almost sound like snowflakes falling to the ground. It’s the beginning of a fantastic journey into all the wonderful things that sound can do.

The tracks all make inventive, creative use of little units of sound – a little tinkering melody here, a primal rhythmic motif there, some electronic howls of noise somewhere else – and, bit by bit, each builds on the other to a huge inferno of sound, ablaze with energy and colour. As the music builds, it also thickens, and becomes an intense mass, rolling along with the force of a behemoth.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as ‘psychedelic drone’ but, if there is, this music would be it, with its large and long sustained lines, multicoloured, unrelenting.

The album's six tracks merge into each other, as if this is one story that is being told here, such as where the thick fog of sound that has gathered throughout “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” suddenly parts to reveal the tribal drums and distorted animal-like screams that kick off “Ribs Out”.

The music ultimately creates vast, and sometimes frightening, vistas – a planet on fire, or suffocating, perhaps. It uses the endlessly rich store of possibilities of electronica, building sounds upon sounds upon sounds and then, just when you think nothing else could possibly fit in, a new sound slips in through the cracks and announces itself as if everything else had only been waiting for its arrival, as with the entry of electronic guitar-like sounds about two thirds of the way into “Okay, Let’s Talk About Magic”.

Street Horrrsing is always surprising you in the way it transforms and builds its elements – sometimes starting with deceptively simply beginnings, like the square beat at the start of “Bright Tomorrow”. But then, with every new layer of sound, each more striking than the one before it, these simple beginnings have become gigantic foundations to a titanic sound edifice that leaves you awestruck.

A dramatic change of key takes us into the album’s final track “Colours Move” where all the bits and pieces that we have heard so far seem to come back on stage in one colossal choir – the tribal drumbeats, the multi-storey electronic drone, the distorted screams, the electronic guitar-like screeches until it all eventually gives way to the soft tingling sounds of snowflakes falling to the ground.

So, when you’re next walking past your local respectable CD store, make sure you leave your inhibitions at the doorway, and walk up to the counter, asking loudly and proudly for your copy of whatever they have in stock of The Fuck Buttons!!

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