REVIEW: Fuck Buttons @ Institute, Sun Sept 8th

Fuck_Buttons

Review by Matthew Osborne

“It sounds like they’re trying to land a plane in there,” exclaims Heather as she returns from the bathroom. She is referring to the way every wall in the building is vibrating, under a sonic assault from the terrifying sample box belonging to The Haxan Cloak.

“Still, at least I didn’t have to queue,” she says, nestling in beside me at a table we’ve procured in a dark corner of the room. She has a point, the female make up of tonight’s audience is noticeably thin on the ground, and I count only seven women besides Heather.

I admit, it was an unusual choice for date night; The Haxan Cloak followed by the similarly impenetrable and frequently unutterable F*ck Buttons. However, Heather had come with an open mind and so together we try to get into the avant-garde showpiece.

Although arriving a few minutes late was like entering a scene from a horror movie; there were no bloody corpses, but there was a real sense that if we didn’t stick together there might be.

I’ve always been open to scary music, and The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation will be another album I can add to the collection which comes out once in a while when I feel in the mood for a good dose of irrational fear and paranoia. I was hoping his live show would be something of an experience, equally as theatrical and menacing as the record, with a stage presence to enhance it.

But even though we watch The Haxan Cloak for his entire set, not once do we see his face. He is always looking down at his laptop/sample pad box of electronic tricks, and (save for some lighting) that is the extent of his live show.

Groups of men chat audibly over the music (probably about music) and despite Bobby Krlic’s attempts to bring it up to at least a dancing tempo on the odd occasion, the terrifying experience I had been hoping for is lost in the live setting.

(If you do want a terrifying experience, then I highly recommend listening to The Haxan Cloak after dark whilst walking through Canon Hill Park or any other wooded area. I thought I’d never get my briefs back to their brilliant white colour after that little excursion)

Next up on mine and Heather’s avant-garde date night was the frequently asterisked Fuck B*tton*; who, despite that moniker and the uncompromising wall of sound they call their music, made it to number 36 in the UK albums chart with their most recent album, Slow Focus. No mean feat considering the obstacles they’ve put in their place (the potentially alienating name and noise) and I was keen to get to the bottom of this emerging phenomenon.Slow Focus

Two guys turn up on stage – let’s call them Andrew and Ben – and despite the presence of a floor tom, open up with a sampled loop of the percussive album opener ‘Brainfreeze’. I quickly begin wondering why we watch these laptop acts in live settings, when standing in any room where the music is played VERY LOUDLY and accompanied by a light show would have an almost identical effect.

But despite a stage presence only a few notches up from The Haxan Cloak’s, there is something about Andrew and Ben’s performance which makes for a more immersive experience.

I find that by the second or third tune I become so absorbed that when I lean over to say something in Heather’s ear, she had gone missing. How could I have let this happen, on date night of all nights?

Fuck Bu**ons deal in great slabs of sound, as though they were loitering around at the fall of the Berlin Wall, and whilst David Hasslehoff crooned Germany into a brighter future were busy packing the most emotionally significant bits of rock into rucksacks. Then, through a number of processes too complex for me to explain, turned them into sound.

At extremely high volumes and with the right kind of visuals, there is something hypnotic about their music. There is also something quite unifying about FB, and this becomes apparent as the crowd slowly begin to rock to and fro as one entity.

Fuck Buttons @ SupersonicI notice a lot of screaming down microphones from Andrew and Ben (though I wouldn’t have, had I not actually seen them screaming) their voices warped into some unholy winged predator, hungrily circling carrion. I can only imagine what they were howling, but some wordless message is conveyed to each of us standing there, oblivious that our partners had perhaps gone elsewhere.

Heather comes back before the end of the set; she had been trying out different areas of the room to see which spots gave the best sounds. So we stand in her pick of the optimum zones for the encore, which finishes in such a shrill wall of static that neither of us can hear the other during the drive home.

With this in mind, I would not recommend The Haxan Cloak nor Fuc* Butto*s for a date night.

But I would recommend The Haxan Cloak for headphone listening on night time walks, and FB for any existential crises encountered when forced to attend a gig by oneself.

Slow Focus, Fuck Buttons’ third studio album, is out now. For more details, alongside digital downloads, visit http://fuckbuttons.com/

For further gig listing at the Institute, visit http://mamacolive.com/theinstitute/listings/

Comments are closed.