Italy’s premier psychonauts Ufomammut have been exploring the deepest, darkest regions of space with their atmospheric sludge and riffs the size of Jupiter for over 10 years, and the cosmic behemoths show no sign of slowing down just yet. This year sees the band releasing not one, but two new records, ‘Oro: Opus Primum’ & ‘Oro: Opus Alter’, so M3 asked bassist/vocalist Urlo about the art of writing a good album, what the future may hold for the album format, and the band’s own record label…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Urlo – We’re Ufomammut, we come from Italy and we play as loud as possible.
What inspired you to form Ufomammut? What are your own musical backgrounds?
Poia and me are long time friends and we started playing together since a lot of years ago. It came naturally.
Lots of different backgrounds, it’d be boring to tell you all…
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Vinyl is what I grew up with, it’s warm.
Tape is the most uncomfortable medium ever and MP3 is the most comfortable.
CDs are cool.
What about laser disk… Ahahah!
A Ufomammut album always seems to take the listener on a journey and works as a solid, cohesive whole, 2010’s single track record ‘Eve’ being a great example of this. What was it that drew you to write music in this way? Do you think the process of writing music that is intended to be experienced as an entire album differs to traditional songwriting?
I don’t know, music is wonderful cause it’s such a relative thing… What you like is not for everybody. All of us have a different idea of music.
As a member of Ufomammut I can say that we just play what comes out naturally.
You have two releases on the horizon, “Oro: Opus Primum” has just been released and “Oro: Opus Alter” is due in September. Do you view these as two distinct entities that comprise an overall concept, or are they intended to be listened to back to back as a continuous piece?
They’re parts of a single track.
We split it in two cause we don’t like double albums and we think it’s a good way to give time to the listener to understand the first part and metabolize it…
The concept of an ‘album’ or ‘single’ has always been defined by the limitations of the medium on which the music is presented (for example, the length of a standard pop single is the same length as that of a standard 45” record), but new technologies like digital files have enabled people to record very lengthy pieces of music and seemingly open up a new world of possibilities for the album as an art form. Have you ever considered exploring alternative mediums to present an
We have worked on a visual version of 3 of our albums, soundscapes for eyes.
I hate records on USB keys… Ahahah!
Do you ever worry that in the information hungry nature of the digital age, the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, is in danger of being undermined or forgotten about by some artists and listeners?
Quality has been overpassed by quantity… There are so many bands nowadays and music has got worse.
The possibility of listening before buying is very good, when I download an album and I like it, I must have it. But I must admit that today a lot of music is lasting just a few hours in my ears…
I’m one of the 3 Malleus (with Poia and Lu – the one behind the Ufomammut visuals) and we run a little label called Supernatural Cat. We are printing covers by hand, we release vinyl records and so on because we think music deserves to be touched, not only listened.
Why did you decide to start the Supernatural Cat label, and what benefits and/or disadvantages have you encountered through doing everything yourselves?
No disadvantages, we had only good reactions.
You take care of yourself and if you do something wrong you only have to complain with yourself…
Everything is easier!
Each Supernatural Cat release has been issued in lavishly designed limited pressings, in addition to a standard format. Do you think the popularity of limited releases like coloured vinyl, rare records etc. could be seen in some way as a reaction to the easy access and ready availability of digital files?
It is. If the content is “important”, the outside appearance has to be remembered. A reaction to disposable music.
Two thirds of the band are also part of the Malleus Rock Art Lab, who have produced handmade silkscreen posters for everyone from Sunn O))) to Aphex Twin, in addition to Ufomammut’s own artwork. Would you say that graphic design work is a good way for a struggling musician to sustain themselves?
Graphic is fundamental. We care about our band since the beginning and I think it gives more strength to what we are today.
We love to have everything covered, from the t-shirt to the visuals projected behind us when we play live. It creates a visual mark that is very important to raise from the mass in some way.
What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
I don’t know, probably more digitally, but there’ll be more and more in the hands of the bands, directly. Even if I really hope there will be a return to the old school… Shops, vinyls and a lot of great music!
Finally, what does the future hold for Ufomammut?
Ask it to the stars :-)