Say Psych: Album Review: Fumaça Preta – Pepas

Fumaça Preta are back with their long awaited third album, Pepas which has been released on Bristol’s Stolen Body Records. They bring together elements of tropicalia, psychedelics, fuzz funk, musique concrete, acid house, radiophonic electronics and numerous African, Brazilian and Latin rhythms.

The band started as a studio experiment when Alex Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan producer and percussionist, invited some old friends to join him in the tiny analogue studio he built on the back of his house in Amsterdam for some free-ride experimentation. The songs that were conceived, recorded to tape and mixed in that 3 day session became the bands first 45 on Music With Soul Records. Fumaça Preta continued to meet in the Barracão Sound Laboratory, swiftly producing another 45, and then set about recording their debut album. All musical boundaries collapsed during the recording of the album as the band drew upon influences from partido alto to acid house, from heavy metal to musique concrete and from raw funk to French soundtracks.

Pepas is a genre busting, gut quivering, psychotropic, metallurgic Goliath drawing from a vast range of unknown genres such as Fê Fê Fê, Dem Bow and Merengada, crushed into their very own Tropical Psych Punk Freakout signature style.

Opening with ‘El Avispero’ they waste no time in asserting their weirdness and making it a mark of things to come. Whispered vocals are displaced over random noise that really sums up what they are about. ‘Pepas De Colores’ is a pacey surf rock themed number with chaotic Portuguese vocals and a groove laden countenance. It could not be further from the preceding track yet somehow it works wonderfully. ‘Matraqeao’ is a more traditional sounding track with a cha-cha shuffle and dip the shoulder groove. ‘Aquí Abajo’ is a tripped-out space rock enthused offering that’s driven by an impossible drum beat and general chaos whereas ‘Piña Colada’ alternatively is more organ driven. ‘Baygon’ is a complex concoction of opposing styles and genres, manufactured into something unique and its own in one move. This will be a bit too weird for some, but if you can get past that you have something special. ‘El Mismo Abismo’ is a heavy step down after what preceded being calm and melodic, with subtleties that keep it appealing. They conclude in characteristic style with ‘Arepa De Chicharrón’, a pacey abrupt aural assault that leaves no stone unturned.

Blending, twisting and demolishing all musical boundaries, embodying as it does an unusual musical palette ranging from the incessant wild beats coming out of an impenetrable jungle to the most avant-garde futuristic sounds generated by abused machines and everything imaginable in between, Pepas is not for the faint hearted but those who brave it will be richly rewarded.

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