Formed in Northern Italy in 1999 and consisting of Poia on guitar and effects, Vita on drums and Urlo on bass, vocal and synthesiser, Ufomammut have shared the stage with bands as diverse as Baroness, Down, Motorpsycho and Orange Goblin. “Oro: Primus Primum” has a cinematic quality that is somehow reminiscent of the soundtrack to a film that would be an unsettling experience to watch alone.
‘Empireum’ is gently paced, and holds the attention with electronic waves of sound and consistent, almost tribal drumming. The momentum is never lost or insecure as the tension builds over the 13 minutes. The guitar appears deceptively and builds upon itself until the track itself is crushed under the weight of doomed vocal and wholesome clamour.
The atmosphere is set early on for ‘Aureum’ with elongated lumbering riffs and clattering percussion hiding unearthly electronic effects in its wake. The tempo is pushed up ever so slightly throughout the journey, and the desolate vocals add a sense of despair that makes the voyage so uplifting. ‘Infearnatural’ and ‘Magickon’ are shorter in length, and are not the epic passage that their predecessors were, but are infused with a similar sense of exhilaration and anticipation which makes these pieces distinctive. These tracks are sonically dense, and are loaded with guitar, pulsation percussion, wraithlike electronics, vocal samples and references back to earlier work.
There is drama and a sense of tragedy throughout these two pieces, even as ‘Magickon’ peels away the layers of sound, the listener is still left with a sense of impending trepidation. This trepidation comes to an unsettling climax on ‘Mindomine’ which carefully and methodically approaches the listener from a recent nightmare. Distorted vocal samples and dissonant sound effects unnerve the listener further. Some 5 minutes in to its 9 minute duration the apprehension is shattered by demented vocals and ragged guitar riffs that increase in intensity and wrath, before decelerating to a cauldron of synthesised sound and decaying guitar and drums.
The mood of Ufomammut has been compared to that of Pink Floyd’s “Live in Pompeii”, which is reasonable to some extent, but the mood of “Oro: Opus Primum” goes a little further than that of the psychedelic epic. The Italians have created journeys of sound that evoke specific emotion, which must be recognized and cherished. Apparently, the Ufomammut live experience is augmented by video and graphics by the rock artist collective Malleus, which, judging from the music here on show, should be an adventure worth undertaking.