I’m not sure how much there is left to say about the magnitude of the work Italian space doom trio Ufomammut has done. The sense I get now in listening to the two full-length albums that comprise the whole of Oro, their Neurot Recordings debut, is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one is fully comprehended. One might have said the same thing about 2010’s Eve as well, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Broken into the two parts Oro – Opus Primum (review here) and Oro – Opus Alter (review here), Ufomammut‘s latest outing has them continuing to plunder the reaches of tonal space. Their sounds are far-out psychedelic even as they seem to bear a tectonic crunch, like plates moving continents. Bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Urlo, guitarist/keyboardist Poia and drummer Vita have persistent as a set trio since 1999, and have never failed to outdo their prior work on the subsequent outing.
The strata that’s put them into, however, is entirely their own. Eve– which was preceded by 2008’s Idolum, also one of that year’s best — was one long composition broken into individual pieces. Oro is one album broken into two releases. Do you see where this is going? In a few years, Ufomammut will be issuing 10LP box sets each time out. Maybe not, but what matters most of all is that as the scale of their work has expanded, so has their creative scope, and Oro is the most vibrant Ufomammut release to date. One would have to expect no less.
I waited to interview the band until Oro – Opus Alter was released so that the full project could be discussed, and today I have the sincere pleasure of hosting both that Q&A and a video premiere for Ufomammut‘s self-made clip for the track “Sulphurdew.” Similar to how opening track “Empireum” from Oro – Opus Primum made its way to the public, “Sulphurdew” arrives as a YouTube clip constructed by the Malleus Rock Art Lab, of which Urlo — who fielded these questions — and Poia are a part.
You’ll find both the “Sulphurdew” video and the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.
When did you start writing for Oro? Was there something different in particular you wanted to do differently after Eve sound-wise?
Eve has been a very important record for us as a band and when we started in working at Oro we were just out of a two-year period of playing it.
We had the consciousness that we needed to move ahead, creating something far from Eve but evolving from it.
Moreover, the Eve experience had been so important for us that we wanted to postpone again the idea of an album of songs.
Well, when we started with Eve, we were thinking about an homage to Echoes, from Pink Floyd. So a long song and some satellites, but we did a mistake starting from the long song…
Anyway, playing live a single song, even if divided in parts, was great, so we thought Oro had to be a long track too.
But after a few months of rehearsing it was quite clear it was growing too much.
Oro is a very faceted album, full of different kinds of approaches; very layered and dynamic.
The first part is very different from the second and we feel it more and more now, playing it live.
So we decided to split it into two temporal parts and when we met Steve [Von Till] during the gigs as Neurosis supporters in Europe, he seemed enthusiastic about the idea.
And the rest is history…
How far into the process did you start talking to Neurot, and how has it been working with them on these releases?
We’ve been totally free; Neurot showed us a lot of interest in the band, but there has never been any interference.
We sent the final song to Steve and he was totally happy with it.
And I must say we’re totally happy of being with Neurot; we couldn’t expect anything more.
All is about music, we feel like we’ve “enlarged our family.”
I know the word translates to gold, but what’s the significance of picking that as the title for the album? Can you talk about some of the concepts at work over the course of the songs? What was it about gold that you wanted to focus on?
Oro means “gold” in Italian, and “I prey in Latin” and it’s also a palindrome word.
And “OR” is light in Hebrew; that’s why ORO is written with a mirrored R on the cover.
The idea behind the lyrics, the concept, came from the idea of the alchemic transformation of our souls (considered as a sort of glue for all what’s around us, so nature) in something that is powerful, thanks to our mind, which is what makes human beings different from other animals.
This is the main explanation of the lyrics.
How does the artwork tie in to those overall themes?
The artwork aspect has always been fundamental for us.
Not only the cover art, but everything surrounding Ufomammut is a very important piece completing the music.
Poia and I are two of the three Malleus (mainly, but not only, a poster art collective – www.malleusdelic.com) and we take care of every aspect of the imaginary of Ufomammut.
Lu (the third of the Malleus) is the mind behind the projections for our live shows.
We consider these flowing visuals like members of the band and we feel naked without them.
Last, but not least, we’ve realized vinyl versions of both two records with SupernaturalCat (the label of Malleus): there’s a standard vinyl one and a limited edition with hand printed cover art and DVD, all hand-crafted by Malleus.
When did you know Oro was going to be a double release, and how did the decision to split it into two releases come about?
We realized it was going to be quite a long, long album from the beginning.
Moreover we had the idea to play around some riffs making them coming back during the composition of the album.
The idea was to give time to the listener to listen to the first part, assimilate it and then to put out the second to understand the entire ORO.
And we liked the idea of having a sort of Kill Bill too…
Has the recording process with Lorenzo Stecconi changed at all over the course of the three albums you’ve done with him? What is it that has kept you going back to him so far and do you think you’ll stick with him next time around?
We recorded Idolum, Eve and Oro in three different ways.
The approach was different because the albums were three distant moments of our lives.
We don’t like to repeat things; to act the same.
We like to change to renovate ourselves.
And this has been possible thanks to Lorenzo, he’s been great, he’s been able to capture our ideas and to transform them into a distinct and peculiar sound.
There are surely a lot of great sound engineer around, but we’ve been lucky to find Lorenzo Stecconi for our recordings… and Ciccio for our live acts.
Did dividing the album give you guys a chance to start writing for the next one? Ufomammut has always managed to top itself with each record. Do you have some sense of what the next album will be like?
No idea of what will come next.
And don’t wanna even thinking about it now. Like for our previous albums, it has to be a natural and instinctive process. It’s a sort of journey and at this point we’re still orbiting Oro, trying to learn everything about it, and it’ll be a long process that will keep our minds busy for a while.
We’ve some gigs in Europe scheduled for October.
Then we’ll try to tour in spring before starting in thinking at a new album.
USA… We really hope to come and play the States, maybe something will happen next year.
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