Album Review: Flash Amazonas – Uva-Uva : fizzing, physical pop-art, art-pop.

The Breakdown

There’s a real art punk spirit at work here and the band are on a mission to deliver a packed agenda. Not that Flash Amazonas are all about speed of thought, they also recognise the power of dialing it down
60 Nice 8.7

Somehow the art pop partnership that is Flash Amazonas manages to fizz on the same wavelength although they admit to taking a leftfield approach to creating their very own avant soundscape. Since meeting at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2015 Madrid based alt-pop purveyor Julian Mayorga and Japanese producer/instrumentalist Ryota Miyake has gradually morphed into band form. From the first exchanges of wonky WAVS and sketchy CD-Rs, working together has mostly been a virtual experience built on a quirky version of mutual respect. As Mayorga admits ‘Japanese and Colombians don’t like to impose. We are both very polite people and rather ask than act. It means he will let me do what I want and I will let him do what he wants.’

Uncannily this hasn’t led to art that’s falling apart. In 2019 they released the eclectic electro-funk collection ‘Binary Birds And Other Surreal Things’ and now it’s time for transmission two, their new album ‘uva-uva’ available via New Jersey’s niche 60Nice label. It’s a record conceived from surreal thinking or as Mayorga has mused when asked about the concept ‘I imagine this album tasting like bubblegum-flavoured grape”. As ‘uva’ is Spanish for grape you can trace some logic to his description but on approaching the album for the first listens you recognise further substance in what he is saying – with Flash Amazonas music there is plenty to chew over.

Look no further than the hyperactive opener ‘Panda’ to sample the packed agenda that the band are on a mission to deliver. The loose take on a Bootsy riff, an arms high Italo-disco chorus and a spooked trip-hop play out makes for quite a ride. Add in some crazy cut ups, sparky faux-horns, some juddering distortion plus various vocal grunts and the wild Dee-lite meets Eurovision vibe is complete. The surf glam ‘Attakai toki’ follows in hot pursuit, shooting from a kids TV theme bounce to a synth romping chorus and back again sounds ridiculous but it’s the perfect soundtrack to the Amazonas sneaky J-pop sloganeering. Along the way even the spirit of Plastic Bertrand gets reconstructed while the timbales pound approvingly.

You can get a sense that the cleverness might become all-consuming as you make your adjustments to the band’s approach but on ‘uva-uva’ Mayorga and Miyake’s energy and enthusiasm keeps you on their side. There’s a real art punk spirit at work here. The romping surf- rock of ‘Ululo’ has the foot down riffs, punk jazz sax and speed-ska bassline to provide some serious agitation. Crossing the tracks between new wave shimmer and ‘Eternally Yours’ Saints, it’s two minutes of sheer momentum, topped with an off-kilter, falsetto hook that shakes a fist at corporate power. Closing track ‘Cada vez peor’ draws further on those Dick Dale garage rock roots then syphons in some sixties teen hooks, double hand claps, Farfisa squeals and riffing bass sax before hitting a stomping wig out zone.

Not that Flash Amazonas are all about speed of thought, they also recognise the power of dialing it down. ‘Nuevas estructuras atomicas’ takes a glistening euro-pop ballad as a starting point before spooning on some syrupy doo-wop harmonies to thicken up the melodic swoon. Or take the chiming jangle toned ‘Hormigas culonas’, a near shambling charmer with its breathy ‘aahs’ and toy synth ruffles. Even more sumptuous the crooning ‘Ballroom’ yearns like the best Magnetic Fields confessional, made absurd in now familiar Amazonas tradition with near comic accents and lyrical eccentricity around replacing eaten eyeballs.

Perhaps that absurdism is getting closer to the main source of Flash Amazonas inspiration. It’s played out fully in the proto-prog ‘La reina es un lagarto’ that motors like a widescreen car chase before diving into a raw flamenco breakdown. As the snare clapping momentum returns ‘Michael Jackson’ gets a name check amidst the vocal anxiety before a prime Andrew W.K. party-hard electro rock out brings things crashing down. Over the course of five minutes you finish up wondering where you have been and probably where you are going next.

So the power of Flash Amazonas on ‘uva – uva’ may just be that their music is so difficult to pin down. What is authentic and what is ridiculous? What is genuine and what is posed? What is serious and what is absurd? What matters and what doesn’t ? Underneath all the stylised artistry this band seem to be asking some pretty big questions and daring you to join them to find your own answers. Go get some bubblegum flavoured grapes – you know it makes sense.

Order your copy of ‘uva-uva’ by Flash Amazonas from your local record store or direct from:

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