by Paul Attard Foreign Correspondent Music

Fumaça Preta | Pepas

September 7, 2019

Since their self-titled debut in 2014, Fumaça Preta has had a penchant for brashly blending and utilizing the most eclectic elements of sleazy ’60s psychedelia, Brazilain batacuda and tropicalia samba, depraved cumbia, and state-side post-punk. Pepas — the UK-based outfit’s first release sine 2016’s Impuros Fanáticos — maintains the group’s already tumultuous sound and chaotic arrangements, while also continuing to develop their forward-thinking genre fusion. “Piña Colada” recurrently discovers new approaches that invigorate the track’s trippy, organ-driven progression, for over seven minutes: from a dramatic flute section to lead vocalist Joel Stones exaggerated vocal delivery. The Agent Orange-influenced “Pepas De Colores” uses layered synthesizers to enhance the track’s punchy, punk-indebted edge. The doom-metal drone that opens “Aquí Abajo” eventually erupts into a frenzy of reverberated guitar riffs and galloping percussion. And on album closer “Baygon,” Fumaça Preta fashions a cartoonishly energetic, hallucinatory freak-out that culminates in a whirlwind of pronounced bass, chanted vocals, and…a seemingly endless amount of croaking frogs. If this seems a tad excessive, that’s no cause for alarm: Fumaça Preta fuses disparate musical traditions with such a bum-rush attitude that their differing sonic ideas play off of each other, thrillingly. The aforementioned post-rock odyssey “Piña Colada” is followed immediately by the eerily atmospheric “El Mismo Abismo,” before launching into more charged aggression with “Arepa De Chicharrón” soon after. Three wildly different tonal changes in the space of about 12 minutes — yet none of these feel inappropriate. Pepas can admittedly be overwhelming on a first listen, essentially serving as a litmus test for how much blunt-force lunacy one can stomach. But it’s a project that openly encourages listeners to abandon their inhibitions and just join in with the foolishness. 

Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 5.