Though we’d come en masse to get groovy to the sour tropical flavours of Fumaça Preta, we were confronted by a different sonic beast altogether on Saturday at Bleach.
The gravel and nightmare sky-scraping scape manifesting in Bleach like a sinister Wellsian weed has been cultivated and genetically modified to fuck our minds in ways not dimensionally possible. The green fingered freaks on stage are Melt Dunes, sold as “a journey into the darkest netherworld of the psychedelic realm”. They sure deliver on this promise; stage right the guitarist throws musicality out the window in favour of smacking sounds out of his instrument, you can almost see the toxic cloud of noise emanating from him in a red mist. His lower end counterpoint to the left tolls out an incessant march toward oblivion, while the ghoul in the middle is already there. He hangs himself in pantomime with his microphone cord, a pallid messenger from hell, asking all the while for us to forget him and consider ourselves ‘What’s your name? What’s your name? What’s your name?” he goads.
Morbidity isn’t the only setting these guys have though; frequently they dial it up to a frantic speed I’ve only ever witnessed in Motorhead, it ramps the tension to unbearable and the only thing to do is mosh and jump. We’re sweating within two songs, and death is more palpable as a beer surrenders its contents onto the packed dance-floor. Soon we’re skidding and falling and getting back up, we’re rabid, wide-eyed sub-humans, foam issuing from our mouths that plead for “FUMAÇA PRETA!”
The lights turn crimson, perhaps Melt Dunes’ devilish rituals have brought hell to Bleach, or perhaps this is the blood we are baying for. No matter; everyone is demonic, teeth glitter as we grin, and the band, like their name implies, materialise like black smoke, the absurd culmination of our summoning. Alex Figueira, the lynchpin of the outfit, carries two drumsticks; he’s some kind of monk, in a white gown, blue glitter splashed across his visage. Stuart on the guitar has been touched by the same visions, a blue stripe drawing attention to his dead set eyes. Most ridiculously, though, is James Porch, in a full jumpsuit that depicts an azure sky beset with white clouds.
While we’re still wrapping our head round their strange appearance they launch into the opener from recent album Impuros Fanáticos. This tune, that shares the album’s title, is far more melodic live; you can appreciate the artistry in the clatter much more when seeing Stuart’s fingers spell the whacked out riff in front of you. The latter half of the song sees Alex’s face change to a sinister wide-eyed gape as he whispers condemningly “Patéticos e homônimos, Paupérrimos anónimos (Pathetic and homonymous, Poor anonymous)”. The inane dancing from earlier ceases for this, you can feel the room taking deep breaths; they feel the band is preparing them, removing their egos in order to reconstruct them as believers, dancers, ravers.
This occurs sooner than expected; as soon as the drums accelerate toward the second tune, the salsa inspired beat permeates the room, it bounces off hips, and wriggles along arms and rattles through heads. The constant movement continues for way longer than I expect or indeed think physically possible. The frequent breaks in which Fumaça Preta’s sound mutates from disturbed Latin funk to overdriven metal are welcome. It gives the front row a more thorough work-out; endless varieties of shimmying and head-banging and straight up bouncing are to be observed.
This combination of moshing and dancing culminates in the band’s calling card tune; the eponymous Fumaça Preta from their first album is grit-your-teeth fuzz stuff right the way through. The overdriven guitar clatters through the speakers, then ramped up a thousand times more when the drums and yelling commence. Alex takes the verse’s descent into freakozoid sound effect/monologue as an opportunity to relieve himself of percussive duties and ingratiate himself with the crowd. When I say ingratiate, I mean he comes and yells right in the middle of the front row, rolling on the floor like a Portuguese Iggy Pop. I know it’s an old rock ‘n’ roll trope, the deranged artiste, but the guys pull it off; Stuart pantomimes concern to the room, reassuring “he’s all right, honest”, his sly tongue firmly in cheek.
An explosive ending indeed, though the crowd’s appetite isn’t satiated yet and a chant for “UNO MÁS!” convinces Fumaça to oblige (though I really don’t think they needed much convincing). Fan favourite Pupilas Dilatadas is strong and supple live. Stuart looks confident and mischievous behind the organ, nodding along to the strutting beat. But the real magic is of course that guitar solo. I will confess here that I think this is my favourite bit of guitar-work in the last five years of music; it’s so fucking obnoxious it’s unreal. It’s barely even a solo, just a load of noise with some octave effects on it, but by Christ it sends me wild. I find myself kneeling on the edge of the stage, hands aloft, worshipping the guy as he whams it out.
And now comes the part that, as a massive fan of these guys, I’m most chuffed to relate to you. James, the bass-sky-wizard conjures the naughty bounce of Baldoñero, building it with the drums before the electric guitar rips the groove out of it and replaces it with a doomy breakdown. I’m so hyped at this point that I feel it necessary to mount the stage to share vocals in the latter half of the song. The guys are not in the slightest bit fazed by a wild-eyed twenty-something invading their space, in fact the microphone is detached from the stand and I’m encouraged to deliver the final refrain of the night “BALDOÑERO! Lock up your ladies tonight!”
Not gonna lie, Saturday night was literally my psychedelic wet dream. Cheers Fumaça Preta.