Fumaça Preta

Fumaça Preta

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Fumaça Preta is an unruly international ensemble led by Portuguese/Venezuelan producer and drummer Alex Figueira. At a gig by the visiting British band the Grits, he made the acquaintance of Stuart Carter (guitars, Moog, organ) and bassist James Porch. Before long the trio was burning down stages in clubs and at after-hours parties. After two wild, wooly singles, their self-titled full-length arrives equally twisted and unhinged. Pronounced "Foomassa Pretta," which translates as "Black Smoke," this 11-song date burns through shambolic garage rock, trashy Latin psych, post-Tropicalia samba, boisterous punk, and more. While it might be tempting to automatically think Os Mutantes, and Tom Zé, the Sonics (whose "The Witch" they covered on their first single) might be a better referent -- but those are only starting points. "Pupilas Dilatadas" commences with a minute of studio madness before a Farfisa kicks in above the snare. A cuíca creates a trancey yet martial groove to warp it further. Fuzzed-out guitars poured through echoplexes create a simmer. "Toda Pessoa" has a dirty bassline atop the distorted guitars and funky drums; this cooker is a loopy, surf-drenched samba. "Eu Era Um Cão" employs a faux North African melody before bubbling congas, timbal, tam tam, a rubbery bassline, and a fuzzed-out, six-string solo (which owes both Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee) precede Latin funk, which pushes it into the red. "Recitando à Toa" is where Latin boogaloo meets Bollywood sitar music and breakbeats. The late-night, tripped-out "Espelhos Fundidos" is fueled by acid-drenched effects, with Caribbean and Brazilian rhythms sifted through a cheesecloth of loopy Bahian grooves and Zappa-esque chamber music. The two cuts from the band's second single are here: the rumbling title number (with the nastiest, skankiest guitar roar on the set), and the jungly "Vou Me Libertar," where ranting lyrics meet a pulsing bassline, clattering breaks, and a Farfisa laying out the riff from "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone." Wah-wah guitars are run through a truckload of reverb and percussion before the insane sound of a harpsichord solo, accented by a female backing chorus (in European spy flick mode), carries it out. And nothing here prepares for the complete madness on "Tire Sua Máscara," where batacuda meets electro and funk on the post 2 A.M. dancefloor. You may have heard all of the sounds before, but not assembled in this way. The grimy sounds and multivalent styles here are refracted through an auditory prism of intense musicality and primal noise. What comes out of this mix is far more extreme than what went in. The primal sounds on Fumaça Preta are gritty, freaky, steamy, and a hell of a lot of fun. The tunes on this record demand participation: if you can't dance to it, you're already dead.

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