review - Fuck Buttons

Arriving hot on the heels of last year’s gloriously hypnotic skull-rattling debut Street Horrrsing, the quick turnaround of Fuck Buttons’ second album is not to be mistaken for a lack of musical development. In fact, just a moment's exposure to the auricular irrigation of opener Surf Solar will prove how far the duo have come in just 18 months.
But rather than totally doing away with the familiar Buttons template of build, tension, and explode, Andrew Hung and Benjamin Power are tearing it up and rewriting - colouring outside the lines to paint wildly vivid futurist noise that makes the debut look about as forward-thinking as a 17th century civil war reenactment.
The distinctive 4/4 house pulse which kicks off the aforementioned "Surf Solar" at first seems reminiscent to Street Horrrsing highlight "Bright Tomorrow", but once it starts to bounce and stutter it takes on a sonance all its own, one that can only be described as if Black Dice and Underworld had been commissioned to collaborate on a song to shake the foundations of the Tate Modern's turbine hall. So compelling is it, that the ten minute duration seems to pass by in half of that, and it begs for repeat listens.
You'd think the following cuts had a tough act to follow up, but "Surf Solar"'s raw sunlight is quickly eclipsed by the aptly-named "Olympians". The track's omnipresent drum loop grips the listener quickly and mingles with effervescent church organ drones, before it blasts off at the seven minute mark and never comes back down. "Olympians" is the perfect crystallization of Tarot Sport’s progressive next-wave dance sound - everything segues perfectly like a great DJ set, but one that can be enjoyed with headphones at home or in dark confines of the club.
The album's producer is Andrew Weatherall, who, if you don't know by name, you will know by his decorated CV with Primal Scream and Two Lone Swordsmen. His influence looms beautifully over these seven tracks, and in a way that's completely in keeping with Fuck Buttons' aesthetic - no doubt the result of spending their formative years listening to Vanishing Point and Tiny Reminders.
It's an utterly refreshing sound, one that's destined for crossover success - if not now, then surely retroactively. If the unseen alien race in 2001: A Space Odyssey had been thoughtful enough to equip the monoliths with MP3 players, Tarot Sport would've been the album preloaded with it. Forget Thus Spoke Zarathustra, this is the kind of next generation noise to inspire early man to use tools, go bipedal, and conquer space. In a (somewhat paradoxical) word: divine.

mp3: Fuck Buttons - "Olympians"


review - A Sunny Day in Glasgow

From rapid-boil kettles to omnipresent wireless broadband, the 21st century has proven itself to be one of instant gratification - much to the detriment of up-and-coming musicians everywhere. These days, no sooner is a debut EP or album mixed down, than it's hoovered up by the tastemakers and over-enthused bloggers - while follow-ups are chewed and spat out, left to flounder in a sea of lukewarm-at-best reviews and “Two for £10” stickers.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow were part of that indie darling set of 2007, their debut Scribble Mural Comic Journal attracting acclaim from all the right corners of the web - but all the web wants now is for the other shoe to drop. Who will be the first Tapes ‘n Tapes of 2009? Though the recording was fraught with line-up changes owing to university and a broken leg, Ashes Grammar is the most self-assured sonic statement the Philadelphia dream poppers have made yet. Sure, it’s slow to start - but once the Cocteau Twins-via-Animal Collective tribal thump of "Failure" kicks in, it doesn’t let up.
After "Close Chorus" lulls the listener into a daydream, each subsequent song serves to heighten the immersion. On "Shy", the only thing pinning the gorgeously ethereal vocals from Annie Fredrickson to the ground is the driving motorik beat. Scattered across the album’s 22 tracks are short mood pieces - which, rather than breaking the stride, act as little bookmarks for key songs, highlighting certain loops and motifs. But by far the most remarkable thing about A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s latest is that it packs the same emotional weight as genre touchstones (Deserter’s Songs, Loveless) but without the usual trappings of artistic vanity and studio excess. I wonder… is 2009 a leap year for second album syndrome?

mp3: A Sunny Day in Glasgow - "Shy"