Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar

Am tempted to make some kind of “Why did the pantomime cow cross the road” joke here, but I dunno that it’d work…


Edward Okulicz: It’s just noise. And not interesting, compelling noise, either. It’s a jackhammer to the brain, and stop it, that’s actually a bad thing.

Anthony Miccio: First someone plays the same techno loop over and over while you’re in the shower. Then it someone’s playing it at a construction site. Neither sound like a good place to turn on a strobe light.

Martin Skidmore: Electronica with a possible debt to noize, and the more they layer on the more I like it. Worth turning up loud too. Much of it is microscopic sampled vocal fragments used as beats, over basic thudding and lots of synth washes. It keeps building and getting more forceful, almost apocalyptic.

Anthony Easton: I like how textures and rythym are created towards a sonic whole that sounds both industrial and electronic, not quite noise but mechanical in its history and its intentions. The video’s abstracted landscapes of the natural and urban landscapes work as an illustration to the narratives of isolation and breakdown that the song imposes.

Sophie Green: This has got to be one of my favourite singles of the year: it must be at least three times as fast as anything else I’ve liked this year so far, and twice as charging and pounding, but it is infinitely more arresting than a lot of music I’ve come across recently. Fuck Buttons completely passed me by before, but “Surf Solar” is so enveloping and engaging that I can’t stop replaying it over and over, hearing new intricacies every time.

Tom Ewing: Some might quibble with the word “surf” in the title, but I for one believe that this is exactly what the Chantays would have sounded like if you’d digitally recorded their brains and downloaded them into the body of a car compactor. The machine elves doing a cover version of “Surfin’ Bird” are another clear pointer. Anyway, this is excellent. The best thing about the last Fuck Buttons album was their totally corny side, and the shamelessly peaking chord progressions on “Surf Solar” show that they probably agree. Not sure how much Andrew Weatherall has really done here, but it’s the sharpest thing he’s been involved with for many years, as well as the tranciest.

Pete Baran: The single edit loses steam just when it is about to blow my world up into little stadium house shaped pieces (you know, if the green monopoly houses were stadium houses, then that size). I am afraid that the full version will not deliver on the widescreen promise of this shortened version. This fear leaves me with a benefit-of-the-doubt kind of score.

Martin Kavka: When rave came around the first time in the early ’90s, it was a way of denying the reality of the recession — happiness, dammit, happiness!! Sadly, we’re all realists this time around; this makes me want to throttle bankers.

Alfred Soto: Metal Machine Music on Euroglide. The issue isn’t whether it’s danceable: it’s whether you want to dance to it.

John Seroff: I was inclined to dislike this from the jump by virtue of lousy nomenclature. By second listen that caveat was forgotten as I got captivated by something that sounds like Daryl Hannah looked in Blade Runner: sexy, creepily emotional and built to kick your ass. “Surf Solar” stacks a teleporter intro with metronome bass, glitchy vocal cuts, shimmering keys, thick and portentous synthstrings and rattling cannonfire moans that coalesce into a shambling bionic mess of pulse and stab. You peer into it long enough and you feel like you can almost make out what the message is beneath all the layers of sonic gauze; god help me if I got sufficiently altered and then decided to embrace it as I’m not convinced I’d come out the other end. It’s kind of gemlike and heady and quite lovely right up to its sudden unplug and rapid fade.

Jonathan Bradley: The splintered samples Fuck Buttons use to create the melody on “Surf Solar” are so distorted and violent that they paradoxically become ambient, an effect reminiscent of the way the band uses its massive keyboards to make loud banks of sound seem strangely quiet. The techniques are not dissimilar from the avant garde glitch of early 21st Century electronic music, but the result is strangely easy on the ears; the harsh tactics, against all expectation, create a quite catchy little piece of pop.

Peter Parrish: I’m probably being influenced by the title here, but the way the underlying drone is initially volume-limited gives the sense of it doubling as an artificial horizon – above which high-pitched industrial dishwashing sounds are being spat out with ferocious regularity. Then that drone grows, you see. It grows and it grows, peeking over its horizon before obliterating it entirely with heat and light while the dishwasher completes its spin cycle into supernova. As for why these guys hate buttons so much, I have no idea.

8 Responses to “Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar”

  1. hm, feast or famine here.

  2. I know how Lex feels sometimes.

  3. Edwardo, if it makes you feel better, I would’ve given it a 3. Not because it’s “noise” (I’ve got thousands of records noisier than this on my shelves), but because it’s just…nothing.

  4. Ha, I’ve only just checked this out and I don’t mind it at all. There’s nothing wrong with something being “just noise” – I’m sure you could say the same thing about the dubstep I listen to, and you’d be as wrong. I just don’t respond to treble very well, though. If the non-Youtube quality version is bassier, that’d be good; as is, I’d probably have gone for a [5] or [6] depending on hangover status.

  5. Lex the bass in this mostly comes through the 4/4 throb that is presumably Weatherall’s doing, it’s kind of housey in a way that maybe doesn’t come over in the YouTube version.

    I think this is terrific BTW – it reminds me in a weird way of Kompakt’s more expansive trancey stuff while also sitting in that middleground between techno and drone we’ve been talking about on ILM. This would be a 9 from me, only holding back a 10 because I can imagine how huge a Gavin Russom remix might be.

  6. i am regretful that my “you can’t judge a fuck by its button” one liner got edited out.

  7. yeh this is alright and kinda Ellen Allien/Apparatish, wouldn’t mind something extra either a Presets-ish vocal hook or some frontal melodic sequence or extra synth chords or all of the above but 7/10

  8. Scott Seward on ILM (not sure what specific song):

    someone could remix this really good, i’ll bet. it’s got the long buildup that’s kinda cool, but i don’t know if its worth finding out where they are going with it. cuz it doesn’t exactly go somewhere all that transcendent. this reminds me more of tedious crescendo-rock then of dance music that builds to some ecstatic peak. (or i guess i just want it to be cool dance music with elements of lo-fi shoegaze noise in it, but it isn’t really that so that’s my problem, really.)