Four years on since they dropped 2009’s blistering Tarot Sport, Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung are back with their third LP Slow Focus.
When Hung and Power get together a unique chemistry emerges and nothing else is allowed to interfere. As Power puts it: “The one fundamental rule remains: we are in the same room when we write. The rest is all fair game.” Fuck Buttons have never really stopped writing together in the time between albums. “The actual writing for Slow Focus began fairly soon after we stopped touring,” says Hung, with Power adding “If we've had any time off, it's been a few months, so though both albums might seem like two isolated events to everyone else, it doesn't seem as much so to us. They’re more like snapshots of an ever evolving mess.”
Fuck Buttons latest opus is the first record they’ve produced themselves; it’s an album that attempts insular resonance. Using repetition to create hypnotic and suggestive states, Slow Focus veers ever more wildly between these parameters; a whole mood-shift taking place to darker, more turbulent evocations – something suggested as much in the album’s title.
“Slow Focus seemed like a very apt title when considering the sentiment of the music,” explains Power, “It almost feels like the moment your eyes take to readjust when waking, and realising that you're in a very unusual and not a particularly welcoming place. There’s a brooding and almost violent theme throughout.” The album gained shape at the pair’s own Space Mountain studio, a place that was once used as a dairy (“It's actually very isolated from the hustle and bustle of London. With the courtyard outside the front of it, it almost feels like you could be in rural France.”) However, it’s not their surroundings that guide them; rather their connection and imaginations that drive the unique sensory assault we've come to associate them with. “The music comes out of the relationship. We've always felt that our music doesn't have a particular sense of geographical location attached to it, they say. “We like to think that we create our own new landscapes, and with Slow Focus it's a very alien landscape.”
As Tarot Sport showed an increased boldness from predecessor Street Horrrsing, Fuck Buttons’ third is a confident stride forward again, signified in their decision to produce the record themselves. Quite apart from a duo whose music bristles with an often brazen menace, the production aspect of it was one of cautious learning and a humble desire to improve their skills. “The writing process revealed how production was intrinsic in that process but what we did lack was the knowledge of how to record and mix those productions properly” Hung admits. “This penultimate step - before mastering - was actually the step that took the longest time because we had to figure out how we could do it.” But persevere they did, and Slow Focus’ production fully recognises every textural change, from thunderous viscera to dark techno and slow oozing melancholia, allowing the dynamic nuances to achieve maximum impact. “To an extent, we've used producers as safety nets in the past and, whilst it is useful to have that filter,” says Hung, “we've always had a very specific idea of what our music should sound like and so it became the logical step to take that we should do it ourselves.
Fuck Buttons were flung out into the perception of the global public last year when Danny Boyle opted to use their music in his breath-taking Olympics Opening Ceremony in London, after a recommendation from techno veterans Underworld whom were working with Boyle at the time. Now they’re ready to face the limelight in full again, with a string of festival dates coming up this Summer, including headline slots on The Park Stage at Glastonbury and at Green Man, then, later in the year, a full UK and European tour.
Fuck Buttons may have been away for a while, but Slow Focus looks set to put them right back where they were: as one of the most arresting electronic acts in the world today.