ribs out

We’re interested in noise as a sonic tool, not as an entity.
- Benjamin John Power, Fuck Buttons

What the fuck does this mean? What is the site of noise?

I guess pretty quickly you'd tell me that it's the body. Duh. But, then the problem is, why is it that so much noise is art-noise, the kind that sits very much in the cognitive, post-/anti-affective dimension? Like a kind of classical for technology? Fuck that.

Because Fuck Buttons make music that is for your bones. But not just to rattle them. Power and Andrew Chung got together initially, so they say, to make pain-inducing noise music. You know the kind, creepy shit that scratches at the back of your neck, repeats on itself in a really violent way. Then they wised up. And they realised that noise and pop/pleasure (well, something like it) were not ≠ - you can bring in structure and process and intention and melody and shit like that, but in a way that fucks with both ends o the spectrum.

Because - we're getting there - the end result is something like a sonic continuum between drone and pop, primal and culture, mind and body. It pleases a deep-seeded animalistic instinct in us (but not in those drums and monkey noises, no no, they're for this next desire) and yet it also appeals to our irreducible socialised sense of 'what music should sound like' - in doing so it deconstructs, no, fuck it, destructs, the barriers between noise and music and opens up once conservative ears to some truly outré shit.

Back to the question, though, what is the site? Mind and body? Well it's kind of actually not either really. Do you know that everything makes noise, that, as our fave John Cage found out, there is no such thing as silence? Well, then, that might give you a clue - FUCK BUTTONS IS EVERYWHERE. It's the horizon. It is the endlessness of sound, alien expanses of beats, drones, pitches, loops, bells.

But it's not all just some slap-dash throw it all together kind of 'world of sounds' bullshit. As if that would ever work. You can never actually include everything on an album, can you? But what you can do is kind of criss-cross bodies with their environments by passing through the ear, so that things kind of stretch in front and behind this music - I'm not really sure if I'm talking time or space, here, maybe both - so its special affect is like before and after you're listening to it.

That's where it is - it is both beating at your chest, and taking those bones well beyond whatever corporeal throne they were meant to stay inside, and it's doing it through your head - because you're processing the modulations, the harsh/nice sounds.

Ribs out.



Apart from some well creepy collages of children, animals and flowers, the inside liner notes to Panda Bear's Person Pitch feature a big, bold, unpunctuated list of musical acts, which I guess are like his favourites or influences. Well, at least that's what everyone on the netz has said about them if they mention this thing, that it's a name-dropping, 'check list' of inspirations for Person Pitch.

But, for me, far from acting like a helpful roadmap into understanding the territory he covers (well, makes, would probably be a better word, Person Pitch certainly beats it own path - even though I still do believe that it's largely the submerged, slightly theistic treatment of the vocal and samples that reviewers have mistaken for some kind of transcendent quality), this list is basically arbitrary and contradictory. For one, trying to join the dots between bands like The Police, Moodyman, Black Dice, King Tubby, Air, Jay-Z, Kylie Minogue, Spaceman 3, Duran Duran, Kraftwerk, The Kinks, Black Sabbath, Theorem, etc. etc. is a completely fucking futile exercise, and the multiplicity of sounds and styles this list references is not so much an indication of Panda Bear's 'eclectic' tastes (fuck I hate that word) but the unnerving, incommensurable, overriding difference that all sound is founded upon. And then as if trying to join everything back to Person Pitch was some way to make the connection - as a certain animated lizard might say, bull shit, no way.

In fact, it's almost like an affront or challenge - just you try and pinpoint the exact moment, sample, structure, whatever, on the record where X influenced me, Panda Bear seems to be saying. Because we're not dealing w/ Night Ripper here. Sure, you might be able to go, "oh his harmonic sunniness is clearly Brian Wilson", or "the repetitive nature of his samples is very 'Insert Hip Hop Act'". But have you actually said anything meaningful whatsoever? Have you even begun to understand how this record works, let alone sounds? Nein!

For me, this endless (ellipses cap it off) list ultimately affirms the uselessness of listing other bands as a critical practice - it's just not a matter of correspondence. Actually, it's only ever a connection made by the listener, wholly biased to their own history and potentially a very real impediment to actually considering the music in question. Sure, everything is a tissue of quotations, blah blah, but every combination is something unique and novel within itself. So deal with that! It just makes me want to try to vow to never listing another band name or genre as reference in a review, even if I can't quite help myself. But, then, at times, this almost tips over into a wish to just stop trying to describe sound at all, as if that were ever possible anyway. It's always connotation, metaphor, tangent - but then, isn't everything?