“I remember the moment we put the bass and guitar amplifier in the big hall of the building and we started to play the riffs; the entire house in the centre of the village, over the hill, was transformed into a giant, loud cabinet.” – Poia, Ufomammut
Ufomammut know what it’s like to get caught up in the moment. For the better part of the last decade, this three-piece from Tortona in Northern Italy have built their musical career on ‘single song’ albums—using movements to break up what is essentially one, long cosmic exploration of the riff. Taking a broad range of influences on this journey—from doom and progressive ties to deep plunges into psychedelia and beyond—their sound has strived to avoid stringent definition.
Their modus operandi has always been the same; to work towards making the ‘perfect’ recording. This simple—yet subjective—mission has seen them dedicate themselves to creating seven full lengths so far. And their latest release, Ecate (2015), is their heaviest yet. Why? Because the band felt it was time to shift their focus once again. “After Eve (2010) and Oro (2012), we felt we needed to change paths,” bassist Urlo says on the band moving to more recognisable song structures. “Ecate is probably the most evil album we’ve done so far, and it's very focussed. It goes directly to the point; it's a very straight album. We tried to work on our heaviest release yet. We noticed that a lot of bands start heavy to end very soft. We want to achieve the opposite result.”
Drummer Vita backed up this sentiment: “Personally, listening to the bass and guitar riffs, I felt I needed to speed the drums up a bit. Those riffs, in my view, needed heavier beats to give the album a more aggressive feel.”
Recorded in the adjoining hall to their rehearsal room, a space that has echoed with the sounds of Ufomammut long before they were technically a band, they tracked the album themselves before sending it off to Lorenzo Stecconi—who has worked with them on their last four releases. “We recorded in the hall in the summer,” Urlo says. “It's a sort of dancing room; a little theatre with incredible natural reverb—very cool for the drum kits. We just wanted to record the music where it was born, that's why we did it all in the hall of our rehearsing space. We also recorded each instrument separately to focus more on the sounds.”
“I remember the moment we put the bass and guitar amplifier in the big hall of the building and we started to play the riffs,” guitarist Poia comments on the experience. “The entire house in the centre of the village, over the hill, was transformed into a giant, loud cabinet.”
Dubbing themselves “messy perfectionists”, the trio have always noted that jamming is the secret that keeps their journey moving forward. “Jamming is a thing of course, but recording the jams and trying different solutions is equally important for understanding if a riff is good enough to be expanded, modified and saved,” Poia says. “Leaving space for some undefined and unrefined solutions gives the music a different vibe. It seems more alive. Played by creatures and not machines.”
“Sometimes one of us already has an idea or riff,” Vita says. “Then it becomes a song from the three of us just jamming and allowing it to happen. Creating through improvisations maintains our interest. We want to keep it fresh both for ourselves and the listeners. Personally, I don't like to see bands on stage that play their songs exactly like the studio album every single time.”
“And lots of things evolved this way with Ecate,” Urlo says. “The riffs and structures of the songs are more complicated, drum parts are way heavier and focussed, vocals are different from the past and synths are very present. I think Ecate is an evolution; a new path in our sonic adventure.”
Though it isn’t just their ‘sonic’ expedition that invites internal analysis from the band. Topically, their releases have always delved into aspects of man and nature. Eve saw Ufomammut take a nod to the first woman on earth, while ambitious double album Oro delved deep into magickal (Thelema) and alchemical interests. Ecate is derived from controversial ancient Greek goddess, Hecate. “Hecate is the most powerful goddess humanity has ever created and believed in,” Urlo explains. “The ancients thought of her as a goddess able to move from different worlds; the one of the living, the one of the dead and the one of the gods. Then, little by little and with the coming of Christianity, she became a minor entity, queen of the witches and black magic, and something to fear. Also, because she was the Goddess of Life, something pure.
“The album (Ecate) is a journey between these three realms. It's simply the story of everybody's life. This moving between worlds is like going from one time to another, so Ecate is the trip to past, present and future—the exploration of our own life. Being the most powerful goddess that ever existed, she's been turned into the queen of black magic and witches by the Catholics. It's the story of humanity and the way we fight our fears; trying to hide them instead of facing them. I was thinking about the relationship between life and death, so Hecate came to mind.”
Ever being ones to shun religious affiliations, they believe their music is an act of rebellion itself. “Life is rebellion itself,” Urlo says. “Our use of mythology and symbols rely upon a personal search and exploration. Faith means a sort of blind acceptance of something thought, said or ordered by someone else. We prefer to discover things by ourselves and find things our own way. This explains why we like the rebel figures, like Lucifer or Eve—they challenged God itself.”
Now, for the first time, you can catch Ufomammut playing Ecate (along with select picks from their back catalogue) as they head to Australian and New Zealand shores with Swede’s Monolord.
Catch them at any of these dates:
Wellington - San Fran - October 3
Auckland - Kings Arms - October 4
Brisbane - Crowbar - October 6
Sydney - Bald Faced Stag - October 7
Melbourne - Max Watt's - October 8
Perth - Rosemount Hotel - October 9