Occasionally, you get to review an album that defies all of your best efforts and it remains something of an enigma. When this happens, I usually refer to the music as ‘eclectic’ and then move on quickly as eclectic can means so much and covers just about everything – or so I thought. Then this debut full length album by the Costa Rican band Hongo Fuu comes along and my world has been turned upside down as I have no real idea what is happening here.
The label describe the album as a combination of eclectic rock, experimental rock, progressive rock and alternative metal and so far so good as it does indeed contains seeds from these genres. But then it gets complicated as it goes on to state that the album is experimental and encompasses jazz, rock, surf, metal, dance, Americana, drone, stoner and folk music which would normally be the cue to put on the parachute and bail out which I very nearly did but instead I decided to stick it out and see where the album took me. Hong Fuu has previously released 2 EPs which I will track down at some stage to check out the development of the band’s rather complex and multi-genre hopping style but, for the time being, I’ll stay with this album to try to make sense of what is happening. The two key words to remember are fusion and experimentation as the four diverse musicians in the band meld their collective skills and backgrounds into a homogenous sound that is truly distinctive. There is literally so much happening here that it is difficult to keep up with the pace of the album which adds to the general air of obfuscation by mixing the languages with lyrics coming at you thick and fast in Spanish, English, German and even Latin quotations which continually challenges your perceptions and then the vocals switch from brutal to clean and then crystal clear female vocals, this is an album that is continually asking questions and challenging your sensibilities.
The band is made up of Félix Arburola on guitar/vocals, Guillermo Meneses on bass/vocals, Héctor Romero on guitar/vocals and Ariel Uzaga on drums/vocals and all four are immensely talented musicians and they seemingly delight in the cacophony that they have presented for us to dissect and assimilate. Apparently ‘fuu’ is a Japanese word meaning ‘the way’ which the band has taken to express an exploration of the inner being which I understand is the self or the literal sense of Sigmund Freud’s id, although I could be wrong here as well! There is a lot happening on the album and you continually have to change your perceptions as the music switches so skilfully as psychedelic rock quickly becomes alt-rock which then morphs into black metal yet it all works in some strange and rather subconscious way.
If you are looking for a quick fix of hard rock then avoid but if you need something more cerebral that continually challenges then you should most certainly check out this rather bizarre but rewarding band from Costa Rica. The album cover is truly awful but even that works when taken as a whole within the context of the music contained within. Enjoy and good luck!
Fuu track list
- Control (5:43)
- CoKeta Molly (4:10)
- Ratwater (3:42)
- Frégoli (3:28)
- Into The Mouth Of Rán (4:04)
- Venus, La Atrapamoscas (3:03)
- El Culto Al Hongo Azul (5;10)
- Sleepyhead (3:23)
- …Son Demasiados Harrys (3:47)
- Trite (2:44)
- ʘ (2:41)
- O Light Of Dawn (7:24)
Vocals (2 & 4): David Cubero (ÉSM, graphic artist, The Cursed, ex-Señor Tijeras)
Vocals (5 & 7): Mauricio ‘Abrahkkan’ Bolaños (Alastor Sanguinary Embryo)
Vocals (1, 2, 7 & 10): Krisia Vargas Guzmán (Costa Rican Philharmonic Orchestra)
Programmed Synths (6): lanada.
Synths and Theremin (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 & 12): Joel Fernández (Erth, Ouiea, Perros Led, ex-Passiflora)
Pianos and Synths (5 & 9): Andrés Bonilla (Erth, soloist)
Marimba (10): Juan C. Díjeres Duarte (Los Reverbs, producer, ex-The Electric Creatures, ex-Trival, ex-Draconian Incubus)
Guitar (8 & 11): Carlos ‘Picudo’ Guardia (ex-GPS, Igni Ferroque, independent, soloist, producer)