In usual reliably audacious form, the opening track on Fumaça Preta’s second album doesn’t do anything for about two minutes. But to call it a track in the first place would be ignorant; it is not one of these, it is a transition. Like all top freaky/magical things, Impuros Fanaticos requires a portal in order for mere mortals to access its juice, and this opening assault is just that – the rabbit hole that sucks the listener down to descending organ lines, where singer Alex Figueira becomes increasingly frenzied in his yelling. It is in the latter half of this opener that we can become appreciative of what’s going on here; there’s a kind of lift off moment. A sound that I can only describe as a bloody whack off rocket going off in the background of some hushed graveyard chanting, and its this signposting that the band want us to take note of. They’re showing their expanded repertoire – the same flavours as before are present, but there’s more liquorice this time, it’s darker and potentially more divisive but still candy, so what’s to complain about?
Track two, Baldoñero, places us at some kind of apocalyptic salsa night it seems; we’re given a strutting bass-line complete with steel drums, but it’s got this sour tang on account of the effect-laden electric guitar. It all goes predictably tits up, as any Fumaça Preta run salsa night would; the guitar gets the better of the rest of the instrumentation and the band decide that a mosh-pit is preferable to dancing. That all of this happens in the space of just four and a half minutes points us toward the conclusion that Fumaça Preta either have ADHD or are incredibly talented musicians, with an ear for compatibility in disparate styles of music. I can’t decide myself, because that’s not even all for this serving of insanity; for dessert our maître d’s have invited Cookie Monster to sing for us. Honestly. This really happens.
Following these two vastly differing bits of audio-cinema, we’re into a true romper. Ressaca da Glória, which literally translates as “Gloria’s hangover” is way more lively than its title suggests; the bass guitar’s vigour is retained from the last track, but the guitar is a bit more kindly this time, stepping in time rather than vomiting goth stuff all over the tropical rhythm. There’s cowbell for God’s sake: dance, go on.
Now my favourite track is something altogether different from what has been previously, nor is it comparable to anything on the band’s first album either. Morrer de Amor (I didn’t translate, I’m guessing The Death of Love, because that is the exact vibes I’m getting) is a kind of blood relative of Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra. It is morose, breathy, burdened. So much so that it starts and stops, like someone weeping and gasping for air. The guitar comes in intermittent, luxurious strums, recorded in such a way as to be reminiscent of those belting spaghetti western numbers that Ennio Morricone peddles. Yep, it’s definitely desert, this one; the maracas are menacing, they are the moonlight rattlesnakes that you fear to find in your boot, and the drums are the distant war beats of hostile tribes, coming to kill you and your woman.
La Trampa is a track that any existing fans (I’m trying to convert the rest of you) of Fumaça Preta will recognise, as it was released through Soundway on 7” single back in 2015. It’s fuzzy, it’s sleazy, it’s silly. It slams your head till you can do no more than feel the beat of those funana drums. Now my Portuguese isn’t too hot, as you may have already realised, but I’m sure he’s singing about prawns in the chorus. And this uncertainty of whether to laugh or rock out is what the spirit of Fumaca Preta is all about; like all great bands that lean into psychedelia they have a sense of humour. The Beatles did it with the chuckling gaps between songs on The White Album, Frank Zappa positively asserted that music should be funny, heck, Pink Floyd even have a song with a kazoo in it*.
It appears that Impuros Fanaticos glitches out a bit after the daftness of La Trampa. There’s some digitised shakers and bleeps that signal the end of the world, or the party, or everything as the title to track six might suggest; Migajas, meaning “crumbs” or “remains” certainly sounds like it mourns something. There’s a funereal woodwind and some futuristic rifle shots (yes) that underscore whispers and a creeping bassoon melody. This all gives way soon enough, though, for the rhythm of a storm-rocked ship and a well-nasty riff that laughs its head off at the prospect of nuclear oblivion.
You’d be forgiven for taking the cacophonous intro to Décimo Andar as a sure sign of imminent global disaster. It smashes in, complete with massive drum rolls and some kind of percussive bell, reasserting itself on the sort of galloping beat you’d hear at a Manu Chao gig. There’s some villainous synthesiser chucked in for good measure and a female backing vocalist that broadens the songs palate; she sounds regretful, while Alex is in typical irreverent mode, his barks becoming ever more frenzied until the song cycles back to its noisy inception.
The final, eighth track on Impuros Fanaticos is a lengthy one that takes in elements from all of the songs that preceded it. There’s those danger shakers from Morrer de Amor, their signature growling guitar that gathers momentum, until it screeches into a rollicking, raggy middle that you can just feel will be the set closer in the upcoming tour. And it doesn’t feel like it comes too soon; I mean I wouldn’t be upset if they’d tacked another couple of tunes on the end, but the length of the LP seems just right. The songs are so dense and operate on so many levels of insanity, of funk, and of sheer darkness that it feels like an excursion into another realm, a holiday to hell, and this is why my huge respect for this band, that are so distinct from the other psychedelic pretenders nowadays, has become so much greater after hearing this sophomore effort.
Impuros Fanaticos is released through Soundway Records on the eighth of April.
Fumaca Preta will be playing Bleach in Brighton on 23rd April (tickets £8+bf, buy here)
By Adam Morrison