This is an experiment started by Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan producer and percussionist who invited some mates to the studio he shoehorned on the back of his house. They had a right old laugh making some digi-dub jams, pulsing acidy electronics and psych guitar workouts.
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Alex Figueira is known primarily as a percussionist, which is a real nice thing to be known primarily as: the keeper of the rhythms, the bread that keeps all the sludge together. For this here record, entitled ‘FUMAÇA PRETA’ in every which way, he’s enlisted some psychedelic folks (also known as his “friends”) to play music with him. Here it is, then: it’s groovy and faraway, like a lounge a few miles down the M62 you’d like to chill out in. It’s also a lovely mess, with distortion that drips ‘til dry, as well as vocals that chirp and chatter as they please, often conjoined to band-communal harmonies if they’re up for it. Which they often are.
For the short version, Figueira’s band attach a honing of psychedelic traditions (wobbling guitar and a tight rhythm section) with dubious song schematics and the odd electronic additive. I doubt they thought too much about approach, though: these songs can jam as impulsively as a Melt Yourself Down tune, “Baldonero” grooving through surfy riffs and hand percussion as Figueira invites and taunts his listeners. The track proves the band’s sterling dynamism, as they pull the tempo back, push gorgeous vocal melodies into place and then smash them into pieces with a metuhl growl.
This record is rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ romp, a lovely treatise of everything Figueira does well: he spooks, he dances, he howls and somehow manages to orchestrate a band into good hooks and nice riffs. He occasionally uses a keyboard motif so vampiric I feel like I'm at a psychedelic halloween party. If you want to make those things that happen in your ears, then go on in.
8/10 Simon Ghent 2nd February 2017
I've been watching the new Icelandic scandi-noir crime series "Case" on Channel 4's 'Walter Presents' stream. It's really bleak, but compelling. It's about an alcoholic fuck-up lawyer investigating the suicide/murder of a teenage ballet dancer. It's all about mid-teen girls being exploited with drugs and sold for sex to older men. There's a whole parade of unsavoury characters and dark secrets.
In the episode I watched last night, one of the characters was hidden in a squat, all peeling wall paper and boarded up windows. There were people in every room, taking drugs and shagging. Thoroughly unpleasant.
That's what this album brings to mind. In a good way.
You do sort of feel the need to put a Divine Comedy album on afterwards as a kind of aural shower.
9/10 DISTORT YRSELF CLEAN 2nd November 2014
Last night I played some records at a Halloween event billed as 'psychedelic-Afrobeat-Kraut-fuzz-nastiness'. Suffice to say I played 4 songs from this 9 track album, which should give you the general view of what it's all about. Sure, it took a while to get my head around what was going on between the screeching South American beats, wired guitars and bonkers vocals, but there are so many layers to this record it's unbelievable, which is why it is fast becoming my favourite album of 2014. It sort of reminds me of that 2007 Dominoes Records album WITH LASERS by those Latino electro-rockers Bonde do Rolê. That album was a massive fun but this is so much better.
It is also worth noting that every release in 2014 by this wonderful label has been worth investigation and I particularly recommend the Kenya Special (which I also reviewed on Normans), the Meridian Brothers and the magnificent Ibibio Sound Machine, winner of the websites own version of the Mercury prize. Trust me, I'm not on commission for Soundway (wish I was) but they are genuinely releasing some of the most exciting records around. DO IT.
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