Tuesday, 6 October 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Fuck Buttons @ Lancaster Storey Institute

Finally completing this set of posts inspired by a recent return home, I had the pleasure of catching the sonic terrorism of London's supremely monickered Fuck Buttons shortly before ocean-hopping back to NYC. This event made all the more special by the fact that it was hosted by the Storey Institute (curated by 44 Presents) in Lancaster, a town (city....cathedral....whatevaaaa) not renowned for its cutting edge music presentations.

A shiny, almost modern museum looking space, the venue still served up a sharp sound for what was billed as a 'sonic arts festival'. Unfortunately the travelling of previous days meant a tardy arrival and the rest of the bill, lesser known electronica artists and DJ's, were missed and will, to these ears, remain just that for the time being.

Having heard various reports of the band's live performances - everything ranging from 'outstanding' to 'confusing' - I was intrigued to check them out for myself. A couple of tracks from their debut 'Street Horrrsing' had crossed my lobes last year but for the most part I would be counted among the uninitiated. Happily, this only furthered the treat in store.

Fuck Buttons don't so much deal in songs as they do sonic textures. They have an unerring ability to kick up a pulsing beat, get the body moving, then warp it into something almost unrecognisable without making the listener aware that a shift has occurred. There are brief lulls as they reset switches and fiddle with the various gadgets (two tables full of 'boxes', a bog standard tom, and what appears to be a 1980's childrens recording toy) at their disposal, but the pounding bass rarely ceases for long and the lasting impression is one of an adventure into sound through various identifiable but intrinsically connected passages.


Rooted in pulsing electronica, the sound also takes an occassional detour into tribal drumming as the tom is punished and its beat augmented by the machinery. It's a notable diversion and adds to the live spectacle, which admittedly can be less than engaging with only two fellas standing besides tables. That said, the duo put all their energy into their musical performance and the few discordant screeches mangled by Benjamin John Power's mic effects are delivered with particular fervour.

MP3: Fuck Buttons - Bright Tomorrow (via Insound)
Taken from 'Street Horrrsing' - out now

Buy it at Insound!

As the noise draws to a close, it becomes clear that the set has divided our group. A couple have fled the confines of the performance hall to listen from a safer distance outside - where it has to be said the seats are comfy and the sound still rather sharp - and another is feeling distinctly off colour following the decibellous assault on his eardrums.

All the better, as the most adventurous music can often polarise opinion and shake up the system. And following a triumphant aural attack such as this one, Fuck Buttons can be described as nothing if not adventurous.


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Now playing: The Drones - Your Acting Like
via FoxyTunes

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