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The Black Hole

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The Black Hole
Quiet Vampires

"There was a thread in American music in the late 1960s that someone untangled across the U.S., then stretched over to Europe, where it took root in 80s shoegaze. It ties together bands as disparate as the 13th Floor Elevators, the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Mazzy Star, Blonde Redhead, and the Jesus & Mary Chain. It's noise rock or math punk or psychedelic or shoegaze or doom: It's the down-tuned sound of chaos and beauty, and while no one was looking, it also worked its way through the Americas and took root in Brazil under the name Firefriend.

The Black Hole (Little Cloud Records, 2017) - a tight three-song EP that clocks in at 21 minutes - is the eighth release from the Sao Paulo trio. This is music to play in the dark, a sonic soundscape made for dreaming beside the campfire or - as the title track demands - it's music for turning up and driving through the desert night with, full-tilt and fully immersed. The bass grooves move you along; the drums tell your heart to beat; the guitar-work needles its way into your subconscious and pulls forth demons; and the vocals ease you back to sleep.

Firefriend pulled that thread from the 60s and created something that feels like a bit of everything that thread ever touched. Their sound doesn't rush to the pop hook or stall itself in the crunchy riffs, it glides above everything else in its own orbit, echoing the best parts of psychedelic, shoegaze, and noise by taking it all into strange new fields of bliss. And with a vinyl release from Portland's Little Cloud Records, it can be heard as God intended at epic 45 rpm. Do yourself a favor: Turn the music on, the lights off, and let yourself go."
Jack Beltane

Firefriend was like finding a $100 bill (or 330.85 BRL) on a saunter through the psychescapes. They popped up on BandCamp, I took a listen, and fell in love. A heady mix of vintage head-spinning psychedelia, trance-inducing Shoegaze and early 2000's Golden Era of Stoner Rock ethos.

Sao Paulo, Brazil is where Firefriend call home. It's tough to get a bead on their official bio, but by deductive reasoning, I've ascertained that the band is lead by the very Kim Gordon-esque bassist/vocalist Julia Grassetti, who rocks a demur dreamy timbre. From the looks of things, Firefriend has clocked in 8 or so solid releases since 2009, The Black Hole 3-song EP being the latest collection of recordings.

The title track starts us off on layers of droning feedback and Grassetti's voice ensconced in a trippy, delay effect, lasting a full 2:19 before a solid percussive groove kicks in. You could almost dance to it if the feedback in the background didn't weigh so heavy on the pre-frontal cortex. It's almost like being in a music-induced state of couch-lock.

DREAMSCAPES kicks in with a killer bass/drum groove, Firefriend's ever-present, signature 'wall of feedback' and Grassetti's voice taking on a sexy whisper. A huge stoney riff, powered by an array of any number of psychedelic fuzz-pedal freakouts is a key element here. Really an amazing song, this one is on repeat constantly, if only for the unique rhythmic groove.

Lastly, is QUIET VAMPIRES featuring a quiet, trebley, heavily reverbed riff and undulating bass/guitar making up the background. At the 1:57 mark, the riff stops and the song explodes like a psychedelic volcano, the heavily feedback/reverbed guitar taking center stage. The riff picks up again, accompanied by mesmerizing squalls of feedback to the end.

There are a couple of common themes that make Firefriend unique - a loose rhythm section that sounds like it's steeped in jazz vs heavy music. Makes for a great counterweight to the bands sweet-tooth for heavily distorted feedback. Second, the adoption of non-traditional forms of songwriting. the fact that intro for the THE BLACK HOLE almost goes for half the song before we hear any riff or percussion is a very cool deviation from standardized songwriting. Lastly, Grassitti is a terrific front woman that is equal parts strong and feminine... I can't get away from the Kim Gordon comparison is that they seem to complement each other. All this coalesces into a 21 minute listening experience that requires a seat-belt and helmet.
Chris Barnes

Just a three track EP from So Paulo's finest, but it's over twenty minutes of music. Yes, it's business as usual, and the band take us back into the drone-zone with more dark, swirling, hypnotic psyche-gaze... It's generally a fairly down-tempo affair, some great two-chord-boogie, and everything drenched in reverb and VU attitude... Sure to appeal to fans of Bardo Pond and Black Market Karma. This band seem to be getting better with each release. I hope you like them as much as I do.