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Afterhours
Pacific Trash Vortex
Sulfur
Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth
Cosmic Background Radiation
Solipsism
Vintage Puzzle
Release date: April 6, 2018
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Danzog, Australia

“As I’m sure we are all well aware, psychedelic rock is currently enjoying its biggest revival in years, maybe decades. There is a renewed interest in psych and all of it’s of-shoots: Dronerock, shoegaze, postpunk and traditional guitar drenched spacerock are all thriving right now. This most recent generation of bands know about Joy Division, they’ve heard everything that Lou Reed and the Velvets recorded, but have the added advantage of being post Spacemen 3, post My Bloody Valentine, and are enjoying the advantage of listening to a decade of the Black Angels and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

 At the forefront of this new wave of darkwave psychedelia is this band, from Sao Paulo, Brazil: Firefriend. Formed in 2009, this three- piece continue to go from strength to strength: Each album ofering stronger material than it’s predecessor. With a huge cult-following rapidly gaining numbers in both Europe and North America, thanks to the power of social media, the band were snapped up by Portland’s Little Cloud Records in time for the release of their space-drone masterpiece, ‘Black Hole’, released in January of 2017. Although only a three-track EP, this 12” frmly planted the band in the playlists of psychrock fans worldwide. This has only boosted already eager anticipation for new material from Firefriend. And the new one does not disappoint!

 ‘Sulfur’ their latest work, due for release in April, is as good as anything in it’s genre. Some bands get better with time, age and practice, and that is evidently the case here. As many of their early songs demonstrate, the talent was always there, both in the writing and the recording process, but songs on ‘Sulfur’ posess a new level of sophistication. They sound more polished, more confdent and somehow manage to sound dark and druggy, yet at the same time, still catchy and accessible to a broad alt-rock audience. All this band need right now is ‘Sulfur’ to get some airplay, and a support-slot with a psych band with an international following: eg Black Angels, or Jesus & Mary Chain...? As soon as either of these things happen, (preferably both!) it is only a matter of time before the world realises, Firefriend have everything it takes to be a major force-to-be-reckoned with on the international psychrock scene and beyond...

 Standout tracks: ‘Afterhours’. ‘Solipsism’ and ‘Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth’.  
Dan Joy, WHEN THE SUN HITS

Setting aside the buzzy haphazardness and semantic dilution characterizing today is use of “psychedelic” as a descriptor for music, look no further for utterly authentic, quintessential psychedelia—music that expresses and invokes extraordinary states of mind and perception—than the powerful, inspired rock of São Paulo, Brazil is Firefriend. This prolific project has been releasing albums and EPs for a decade and consists of Julia Grassetti on bass, vocals, and keyboard; C. Amaral on drums and various electronics; and Yury Hermuche on guitar and vocals. They ive been recording and producing in their own studio since 2016 is full-length, Negative Sun. 2017 EP The Black Hole and this year is long-player Sulfur have followed, creating a stunning trilogy of self-recorded efforts, each one riveting from start to finish. Elite Portland psych label Little Cloud Records has done us the service of releasing The Black Hole and Sulfur in fine vinyl editions available from Little Cloud itself as well as from Cardinal Fuzz, while Negative Sun is available in digital form.

In the spirit of predecessors The Velvet Underground, Firefriend prize the authentic over the finely wrought, and in doing so achieve, like the Velvets, a very distinctive immediacy and presence. Some of Firefriend is excursions are on the lengthy side—“Quiet Vampires”, the closing track of The Black Hole EP, runs 8:29 and takes up an entire side of the 12”—but even the lengthiest are gripping throughout. In sympathy with much of psychedelia, post-rock, and shoegaze, there is a great deal of emphasis on sounds and textures, often strange ones. Both Julia and Yury deliver vocal incantations with a spoken and whispered feel while still subtly expressing melodic lines. Structures are unexpected and seem very organically grown, as if emerging from within the music rather than being imposed from without, while the tracks still move through a very specific sequence of transitions that are essential to their impact. The sum of these propensities is a wonderful fusion of song and experimentation—dark and heavy, jaggedly beautiful, uplifting in its ultimate effect.

The songs are not without melodic and rhythmic hooks, but the real ihooks i in this material, the qualities that grab and hold our attention so effectively, are largely located elsewhere. The core of the music is power lies instead in the way Firefriend seems always to take us somewhere, to portray and draw us into spaces and places—not literalgeographies, but, in the great tradition of psychedelia, territories of mind and feeling. (The term “psychedelic”, coined in 1956 by a research psychiatrist for the purpose ofbringing trip-inducing drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin together under their own classifying rubric, has two Greek roots, “psyche”, meaning “mind”, and “delos”, meaning “manifest”; its literal meaning, then, is mind-manifesting, mind-revealing.) Extraterrestrial mindscapes shiver and unfold in the revealing beam of Firefriend is starcraft headlights. “We like to think”, Yury has told us in our electronic correspondence, “that we are looking for new shapes and places…Don it you feel that some songs, some records, are entire universes?”

Sulfur comes with a booklet insert titled iOperating Manual for Planet Earth. It lays out the bands entire discography while also, in accordance with the title, providing handy travel tips for any entity finding herself “lost on Earth”. Herein Firefriend advises, “Express yourself through any method you want. That is how you become a transmitter, generating waves that will open connections with others vibrating on the same frequencies. That energy field will change the game.” Now that is a truly psychedelic perspective if there ever was one.

Firefriend has just finished putting visuals to Sulfur is entire forty-two minutes. Stream the result immediately below.

Deep gratitude to Firefriend for taking time out for this interview and for releasing such an awful lot of really good music. Thanks also to Little Cloud for connecting us with Firefriend for the interview that follows.

 iWe take our ideas—sounds, riffs, chords progressions, whole songs—to rehearsals, where the band will then destroy them, and build a new thing out of their bits. i

How and when was the band formed?

JULIA: I didn it know Yury very well back then, but he threw the best parties of 2006. I knew he was playing guitar and recording some tracks. I knew I had to play bass in that band. He invited me to record a cello. I jumped into it and also recorded some bass and vox. It really ended very well I think.

C.AMARAL: I joined the band back in 2011, to play some guitars. And then, at the beginning of 2014, I got the drums.

YURY: São Paulo is one of the largest, filthiest and most violent cities of the world, you got to make things happen—fast—otherwise you may end up stuck in an office you hate or in traffic or even getting killed. We started the band and played and recorded with several musicians until C.Amaral arrived in 2011. All these years! It is been a trip.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you’ve got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?

YURY: We’ll play in the UK on Sept 4th! Manchester is Astral Elevator booked our first gig there. We are also releasing a new album, it is called Yellow Spider. All its seven tracks were written simultaneously with finishing our last album, Sulfur. The day we had the Sulfur masters done we were in the studio recording the drums for Yellow Spider. Everything came together real fast. I don’t know if it’s wise to release new material so soon, but I can’t help it, these new songs took over our minds so easily and I bet this new record will add perfectly for everyone who is tripping with Sulfur. And anyway we are addicted to recording and making albums.

C.AMARAL: We are playing, rehearsing and recording all the time.

JULIA: Yes we have this European tour coming, so now we are working on the songs we want to play there.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one is sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?

JULIA: I think we drink from several genres, since each one of us loves different things. But the three of us are keen to psychedelia and all it has to offer.

C.AMARAL: I don it know, I think we travel across genres, including shoegaze, so I can it put the band in one specific genre.

YURY: We like to jump into new songs without a map — feeding them with whatever we have on our hands and minds at the moment. We love to see how noise and melodies collide, where their wreckage falls. Sometimes it goes in one direction, then at the next second or song, we may end up in someplace else. Noise and melodies are in this unstable balance with most of our fave records and artists, as in life itself. Shoegaze and dream pop are different points of the same thread—yes, we are there, somewhere.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?

C.AMARAL: It is fucking good!

JULIA: I think we are living a wonderful wave of these genres, there is a lot of good stuff going on. I im so grateful to this blog, Psychgazer, where I’ve gotten to know amazing bands, like The Altered Hours, Rancho Relaxo and New Candys.

YURY: Buried Feather (Melbourne), Los Mundos (Mexico). Darker My Love (California) created insanely good music on their time. There is so much wonderful music being created today. Everywhere.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?

C.AMARAL: my bandmates—my friends playing with me.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway. How do you see it and do you feel it is positive at all?

C.AMARAL: Sincerely I don it know much about the music industry; the pace of technology is so brutal I just can it track where it goes.

YURY: We are all trapped in this colossal digital revolution, and it’s liquefying everything. While I enjoy the promises of universal access and global connections, the flow of new music/images/information and how it could open our eyes, minds, and ears, I’m also concerned about its downsides, and there are many. That is one hundred percent the liquid XXI century mood.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?

YURY: We love how Little Cloud Records takes care of our records. We share with those guys this love for music. We also released several albums as unsigned artists, before Little Cloud, and it is amazing what one can do alone with the contemporary tools. I want every band releasing their work anyway because there is so much to say and often it’s a thousand times better than any blockbuster sequel or Netflix crap. Independent music and labels are the virus our culture needs so badly.

C.AMARAL: Hard to say. I like Bandcamp because there are no costs for musicians to post their work, and the website is also very efficient in building up a community around bands, inviting people to buy music from unknown artists.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?

JULIA: Vinyl. I’ve always listened to vinyl, since I was a kid, without earphones, that loud sound taking over the whole space, the low tones enveloping you. It is comforting.C.AMARAL: I like vinyl for its format and sound, but I listen to music in every format.YURY: I can’t really dig MP3. It is like low-res JPGs.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

JULIA: Black Sabbath is the band I’ve most listened to, since I was thirteen years-old. Black Sabbath is always playing here at home.YURY: Velvet Underground, John Coltrane, Burroughs, Kerouac, Stooges, MC5.C.AMARAL: John Coltrane, Neil Young, Beatles, Spacemen 3, Can.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc.)?

C.AMARAL: I’m reading Here, There and Everywhere, the memoir by [Beatles engineer and McCartney producer] Geoff Emerick. And just watched D’après une histoire vraie by Roman Polanski.

YURY: Reality is my thing now. How it is distorted by media, corporations, and governments. Democracy is under attack — and Brazil is this forever laboratory for updating strategies and tools for massive brainwashing. Even before the 2016’s coup, the machine was working at its maximum here. The XXI century is turning into this complex vortex, echoes of the 1930s mixing with hyper-speed cables and environmental disasters. It is fascinating and brutal.

If you had to choose one track that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?

C.AMARAL: “Dreamscapes” - I think this song captures, somehow, the essence of this band.

YURY: It can’t be defined by one track.

Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?

YURY: We take our ideas—sounds, riffs, chords progressions, whole songs—to rehearsals, where the band will then destroy them, and build a new thing out of their bits. That is an adventure we dig.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

C.AMARAL: My philosophy is…keep me in debt so I can buy records forever.
Reverb is for lovers, Germany

Grenzen waren Firefriend schon immer egal. So auch auf dem neuen Album, das Noise, Psych und Space Rock gleichermaßen behandelt.

Seit dem ersten Release von Firefriend sind auch schon wieder zwölf Jahre vergangenen. Seitdem gab es stolze acht Veröffentlichungen, die insgesamt mit Psych überschrieben werden können, aber doch unterschiedlich klingen. Gerne liefern sie straight ab, ergötzen sich aber auch an Experimenten, wie etwa zuletzt auf der „Black Hole“-EP.

Nun liegt der neunte Release vor. „Sulfur“ erscheint über Little Cloud Records und zeigt die Band aus São Paulo von verschiedenen Seiten. Firefriend sind hier sehr spacig unterwegs, driften ab, schrecken aber auch nicht vor unangenehmen Geräuschansammlungen zurück.

Straighte Rock-Parts werden durch Jams unterbrochen. Gerne lassen sich die Brasilianer Zeit, bis ein Track zur Entfaltung kommt. Eine Platte, die stets im Fluss ist. Und vermutlich ihre bisher stärkste Platte, denn alles funktioniert.

„Afterhours“ bietet als Einstieg noch herkömmlichen und sehr fetten Psych Rock mit ordentlich Reverb. Hier erinnern sie stellenweise etwas an die Wooden Shjips, wenn auch das Repetitive fehlt. Dann wird die Stimmung düsterer, der Sound unbequemer. „Pacific Trash Vortex“ und der Titeltrack schieben sich unangenehm hinein, fiepsen, wollen aufwühlen.

Ab „Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth“ verschwindet das bedrückende Gefühl und wir biegen in Richtung driftenden Space Rock ab. „Cosmic Background Radiation“ und „Solipsism“ sind ruhig und jammig, das abschließende „Vintage Puzzle“ ist experimenteller, bleibt aber harmlos.

Fazit: Sehr atmosphärische und aufregende Platte.
Emiliano D'Aniello, Italy

Colpaccio della Little Cloud Records di Portland, Oregon che si aggiudica (diciamo così) la pubblicazione di questo LP dei Firefriend, band di San Paolo, Brasile e definita nelle stesse note di accompagnamento al disco come “una delle città più grandi, sporche e violente del mondo”. Diciamo che più o meno è la stessa definizione che darei alla città dove sono nato e dove sono cresciuto e dove vivo attualmente e chi lo sa se non sia anche questa cosa che mi avvicini in qualche modo ai contenuti della musica e dei testi della band composta da Yury Hermuche, Julia Grassetti e il batterista C. Amaral e che di conseguenza mi abbia portato ad amare incodizionatamente questo disco.

Autoproclamatisi una vera e propria “bestia a tre teste” il loro disco, “Sulfur”, è uscito il 6 aprile ed è sicuramente per quanto mi riguarda una delle novità nel genere neo-psichedelico più convincenti e anche tra quelle più accattivanti e che potrebbero richiamare una certa attenzione. I contenuti concettuali del disco sono calati dentro la realtà quotidiana che li circonda, una dimensione difficile e rappresentata in bilico tra sfumature noir e letteratura hard-boiled e che appare essere come densa e assorbire allo stesso tempo tutto quello che ci sta dentro. Una realtà oscena e dalla quale questa musica garage psichedelico (“Afterhours”) si dipinge inevitabilmente di trame oscure e ricche di sfumature (“Cosmic Background Radiation”) oppure taglianti come lame di un rasoio (“Solipsism”…), prima di calare in maniera ipnotica l’ascoltatore in uno stato estatico tra quadri drone tridimensionali (“Pacific Trash Vortex”), yelling noise di derivazione Yoko Ono (“Sulfur”) e onde sonore Spacemen 3 (“Cosmic Background Radiation”), allentando così quella tensione e quello stato di violenza richiamato, mutandolo in uno stato di opposizione e allo stesso tempo acquiescenza, autoconsapevolezza e perdita del controllo: una esperienza amniotica di orgasmo collettivo universale (vedasi la copertina del disco) che è alla fine la più grande rivoluzione possibile
Le Crowley, UK

São Paolo’s Firefriend are back with a new LP, Sulfur, set for release on Portland based label Little Cloud Records on 6th April 2018. Previous EP, The Black Hole was a three song 21-minute offering which thrust the band back into popular consciousness. Firefriend don’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.

The seven-track offering opens with ‘Afterhours’ with its distorted guitar giving way into fuzz laden riffs and disjointed drum rhythms with hints at primal rock influences coming up for air every now and again. This gives way to ‘Pacific Trash Vortex’, which takes its predecessors experimental elements and pushes them further, creating intoxicating mixtures of sounds that probably shouldn’t go together, yet somehow, they do and Firefriend make it work to their advantage. Title track ‘Sulfur’ channels space rock vibes with its heady mixture of dystopian electronic noise, ethereal vocals and warped guitars It builds in oscillating layers that grab attention with ever rotation.

‘Hello from the Children of Planet Earth’ introduces itself conveniently enough and then wastes no time in packing a punch, with its shoegaze influences gleaming through from the offset yet moves progressively into more psychedelic vibes as it continues, with lashings of reverb and delay. ‘Cosmic Background Radition’ takes its time developing its own sound, almost teasingly, but when its gets there, its worth it. Some may give up on it before it does, I urge you not too. ‘Solipsism’ is unaltered psychedelia, with a krautrock backdrop, the vocals are mesmerising and the way they play against the music is really quite something to behold. Concluding ‘Vintage Puzzle’ seamlessly blends sound bites, shoegaze hazy vocals, futuristic electronic noise and catchy guitar riffs. The puzzle here is unpacking the sounds and processing them.

Despite this being their ninth release, Firefriend remain relatively unknown, something tells me that Sulfur, with its provocative cover art is set to change that.






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