Fuck Buttons’ follow up to their 2008 evocative debut Street Horrsing, Tarot Sport moved even deeper into mesmerizing soundscapes and evoked  mystical landscapes with its stirring, lifting, melodies. It made our best albums of 2009 list, and still gets played to death.

‘Tarot Sport’

Fuck Buttons - 'Tarot Sport'

Fuck Buttons – ‘Tarot Sport’

Double LP Vinyl Gatefold version reviewed.ATP Records. 2009.

Track list:-

1.    Surf Solar  (10:32)
2.    Rough Steez   (4:44)
3.    The Lisbon Maru   (9:19)
4.    Olympians  (10:54)
5.    Phantom Lab  (4:50)
6.    Space Mountain (8:45)
7.    Flight Of The Feathered Serpent  (9:32)

Fuck Buttons seem to be listening to some very interesting records of late; the odd Sven Vath LP and E2-E4  by Manuel Gottsching instantly spring to mind, on what can only be described as the duos move towards prog-rock dance, Tarot Sport. Further guidance can be found in Sven Vath’s 1995 LP, The Harlequin, The Robot and The Ballet Dancer, which acts as a natural spiritual inspiration.

Tarot Sport is full of analogies and references, from the Euro pop direction found in the work of Krautrock heroes like La Düsseldorf,  to the song titles that bare homage to Ash Ra Tempal, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream: 

In the same way that Brit artist Glenn Brown re-appropriated the fantasy science fiction art of Chris Foss, so Fuck Buttons similarly tip their hat to the best of the Seventies trance pioneers.

 

Their second album, echoes a similar sound palate and driving concept throughout, the opener ‘Surf Solar’ and the track ‘Space Mountain’ setting up an ambitious pathway of fuzz, toms and acid scuzz all interlocked with the ever present vintage synthesiser and brooding pulsing bass lines.
On these tracks especially the build up harks at more grown up presumptions; an attempt to be taken seriously perhaps?

Some of the shorter tunes on display such as ‘Rough Steez’ use the darker influence of Faust as the complex beat takes time to eventually loop into its harmonic melodic signature. On ‘Phantom Lab’ they come across more in step with Canadians Holy Fuck – especially on their track ‘Echo Sam’.

Highlights include the mesmerising ‘The Lisbon Maru’, which crosses an Ash Ra Tempal template with Black Neon to make what sounds like the Beach Boys riffing on the Talking Heads ‘Road To Nowhere’.
Another highlight is the heroically named ‘Olympian’, a Florian Schneider fronted Joy Division circa Trance Europe Express, before the Euro pop sound of Viva era La Düsseldorf steers it away from sounding too moody and punches the air for the sheer hell of it.

Closing epic, the opulently fantastical titled ‘Flight Of The Feathered Serpent’ , is a slow building barrage of deep space exploration and trance fueled floating melodies that builds into a version of a late 70s Can – I’m thinking of Out Of Reach and their titular Can albums. This is a slow grower, as it keeps up a regular momentum throughout its nine minute duration.

Tarot Sport takes the duo into some potential goldmines of exploration as their points of reference have rarely been used, especially in a successful way like this.
A great attempt that should be encouraged, it remains to be seen how well this album tours though critically it has gone down pretty well.

As I was listening through my headphones to this record it suddenly dawned on me that this would be the perfect soundtrack to the spaceman from another planet theories of Erich Von Daniken, especially his Seventies published book ‘Chariots Of The Gods’ which proclaimed that signs in the deserts of Central America were left for beings from another World. Either that or the last album I’ll play if the Mayan prophecies come true in 2012!

Dominic Valvona.

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