Fakuta - Al Vuelo

Al Vuelo, Fakuta
Michita Rex, Chile
Rating: 88
by Enrique Coyotzi
Fakuta’s eminent, forward-thinking debut, Al Vuelo, is without a doubt Club Fonograma’s most anticipated pop album of the year. It's a magnificent work constituted by ravishing pieces, precisely built under a meticulous architectonic conception. Moving away from pop music traditionalism and concentrating on musical form (like compatriots Dënver or Maifersoni), Pamela Sepúlveda has consecrated herself as the main exponent of the Michita Rex netlabel, which has amazed us with a varied family of constantly surprising, intriguing artists. In a year where guitar-driven acts have dominated our radar, Al Vuelo’s intricate playfulness, larger than life audacity, and math pop grandiosity, arrives like a deep breath of sweet, fresh air.

Although the recording process lasted two years, Fakuta is no stranger to the DIY scene. She’s one of the widest known personas in the Chilean indie circuit, having taken part in groups like Golden Baba and El Banco Mundial, being one of the most lauded newcomers by unquestionably credible sources like Gepe and Javiera Mena, and heading her home label during 2010. Fakuta has had music bloggers drooling ever since we heard her first impressive demos (check out the organic take of “Armar y Desarmar” included in our seventh compilation, Los Colores No Dejan de Sonar) and her unique theatrical live presentations beside the inseparable The Laura Palmers, a trio of chorus girls (named after a catalytic character of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks) who resemble The Ronettes or The Supremes in an opposite, obscure manner. Assisted by De Janeiros’ superb production, Fakuta’s carefully fabricated futuristic vision reaches enviable heights, making Al Vuelo an essential tour de force for any true lover of exceptional, cerebral pop craftsmanship.

While this isn’t the type of pop music you will often hear on the radio, Sepúlveda’s radiant compositions are accessible enough to guarantee her a few hits. Pink on the surface but heart-wrenching in its message, first single “Armar y Desarmar” is delicately constructed, starting peacefully, then unraveling in a natural way until the song becomes a head-nodding celebration embellished by heavenly choruses and cotton candy harmonies. In the album’s outstanding numbers, “Estrella” and “Segundando," Fakuta effectuates interesting changes in the mid-section of the tracks; when they have acquired a certain pattern of structure, the songstress throws an unforeseen melody in her synthesizer, which comes out of nowhere but functions magically, adding a completely contrary tone.

As a contemporary industrialized version of well-known copla popular “El Patio de Mi Casa," the cartoonish “Mi Casa” delivers childhood nostalgia emphasized by the employment of string and brass instruments. “Las Partes” is disturbing, noisy industrial pop, like stepping inside a monstrous factory of penetrating colorful sound. The sublime tears generator “Virreinatos” is probably my favorite song of the whole thing. Like dubstep wunderkind James Blake, Fakuta values space and silence, extracting gems out of these qualities. A melancholic realization about how at times we believe we’re indestructible as a fortress (“¿cómo es que tu imperio no ha de caer?”), the glitch fragility of “Virreinatos” is boundless.

Ending a long, anxious wait, Al Vuelo is a masterful breakthrough which possesses the chances to harvest international success. Longtime Fakuta followers will most likely be already familiarized with the majority of these songs, since live recordings have been floating around on YouTube for a while, but every track is executed with current freshness that it seems incredible they’ve been in gestation for such a long time. With its mesmerizingly clever compositions, the blissful majesty that is Al Vuelo will position Fakuta in the line of cream of the crop of Chilean stars, in the meantime bringing us transcendental anthems of monumental proportions.