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Live Review: Fuck Buttons

31 October 2013 | 10:30 am | Andy Hazel

Yet again, Fuck Buttons move onward, upward and outward blazing a path we’re more than happy to follow.

One of the big drawcards at this year's Melbourne Festival, and one of the more leftfield choices, Fuck Buttons are a duo never known to disappoint. This pop-up venue is packed and buzzing for an hour before the band begin, the room similarly twilit as the night outside.

Thick, shifting synth chords hang in the air and the stage hosts a perfunctory table littered with Casios, synth pads, Fisher Price karaoke machines and dozens of leads running from mixers. A mirrorball hangs waist height and a large screen stands behind the table, completing the carefully arranged chaos. Andrew Hung and Ben Power wander on, deliver an acknowledging wave and then proceed to rupture the space-time continuum.

Opening with the relentless drum loop and disembowelling synth of Brainfreeze, the first track from their latest album Slow Focus, the screen bursts to life with shimmering silhouettes of the two men looming over fractured images of the Victorian coastline. Patterns and images come, go, are refracted and mixed with unusual colours and are never less than arresting. Bass tones shudder up through your shoes and slabs of synth pad push the limits of what ears can stand, but Fuck Buttons seem to intuitively know the right frequencies to push and to which levels. Their complex layers of tone and filtered sounds clash brilliantly with the visuals; no sci-fi landscapes here, just deep, rich colours, strange shapes and silhouettes.

Following up with the immense and blazing Surf Solar, the duo seem to operate without any need for visual communication. Sounds like tuned fire extinguishers explode over tsunamis of ball bearings moving through aluminium canyons as Colours Move melds into Olympians – the sound of lush, violent euphoria.

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The swaggering beats and pinging melody loop of Slow Focus highlight The Red Wing announces the arrival of the mirrorball, splattering shards of bronze light around the room. Bursts of jungle drums and Badalamenti-style refrains give a melodic depth to aural assault as the audience begin to dance as only a crushed crowd, half of whom have their eyes closed, can.

Despite remaining expressionless throughout, Hung and Power raise their empty beer bottles, nod, smile slightly and depart the stage to the dying sounds of album closer Hidden XS. The crowd roar until they return, whereby the duo again annihilate us with previous album Tarot Sport's epic track Space Mountain. Spilling out into the cool night the lingering sense of a typically Melbournian-repressed euphoria is silently communicated between rapt punters and loudly expressed amongst friends. Yet again, Fuck Buttons move onward, upward and outward blazing a path we're more than happy to follow.