I grew up a huge fan of “Star Wars,” not just because I’m a dork, but also because there was a gigantic cosmic world in which to get lost. Yes, there was the heart of good vs. evil, the rising of a young hero who would save the galaxy, the iconic bad guy who would be the one everyone would like the most anyway, but at the center of it all, there was space. It looked majestic and gorgeous, a place where you’d want to allow yourself to float away to new and exciting worlds. Then Lucas fucked it up with his crayons.
I often feel that same way about Ufomammut’s strange, head-buzzing symphony of psychedelic interplay. I get lost in what they do. Always have. Unlike a movie you know from first glance will be a classic, it takes some time to get used to the Italian band’s universe. It’s never what I expect, which is a good thing as I like to be surprised, and it often takes many adventures before I’m ready to soar. But I dig that, and I find bands and albums that take some time to sink into my head are the ones that stay with me the longest. Ufomammut (pronounced oofomammoot) is one of those groups, and their work is etched into my DNA by now.
Their latest album, and sixth overall, is the first of a pair. “Oro: Opus Primum” (first effort for the mighty Neurot Recordings) is as expansive conceptually as it is musically, which is mind-blowing for a record that contains practically no vocals and is built entirely on sound. It explores humankind’s quest for knowledge, a path that’s often filled with political roadblocks oddly, and the stream of human fear that is alchemically turned into pure essence, or gold. Yeah, take a moment with that one. It’s one of those things that I understand and can get behind, but it’s going to take me hearing the second volume to fully make heads or tails of what’s happening. That second helping, “Opus Alter,” will be out in September, so you’ve got some time to decide what this initial offering is telling you.
While “Oro: Opus Primum” is broken up into five cuts, it is very much one piece. Actually, from how the info reads that accompanies the promo version of the record, this album and the next are one giant whole. It’s just divided into two different releases. So keep that in mind while listening. As usual, there are some really interesting, spiritually moving moments on “Opus Primum,” and you really need to set aside an hour and sit down with this effort front to back. Sure, you can pull out something like, say, “Infearnatural” and indulge yourself in its heavy pockets of doom, it’s more aggressive nature, and its bizarre dialog that tells us, “In his cell, he created his own world. He speaks his own language.” It’ll sound good on its own, but without the context of how you got to the point and where it goes from there, you miss most of the meaning. But hearing it as the natural middle point of the album by experiencing the entire package makes the track feel entirely different. So do yourself that favor, and digest the album.
We start off with “Emperium,” a warbling, spacey song that slowly opens your eyes to what’s ahead on this journey. it unfurls itself slowly and stays calculated until it meets up with “Aureum,” a rougher, punchier song that has some muscle-bound guitar work, washed-out vocals, alien transmissions, and a pulverizing finish. That takes us to aforementioned “Infearnatural” and then onto “Magickon,” a song that weaves a keyboard melody line heard earlier into the piece back to the conversation. It’s that type of thread that, while simple, keeps your focus and reminds you this is one big picture. “Mindomine” finishes off the album with military-style drumming, strange chants and singing, and eventually a kicked-up pace that gets your juices flowing and you wondering how it’ll all resolve itself. You’ve got about a half-year to wait.
Ufomammut once again captured my imagination as they did fully on their last record “Eve,” one of my favorite efforts in their canon. On “Opus Primum,” I was sucked into their space opera, their quest for greater meaning and understanding, and their shimmering vehicle that gets us all there. This is one magical band that keeps coming up with something you’ve never heard before, both sonically and intellectually. I will wait with as much patience as possible for the second half of this venture, but until then, I’ll get to know the craters, terrain and divots of “Opus Primum.” Quite happily, I might add.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.ufomammut.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.bluecollardistro.com/neurotrecordings/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=ufomammut&x=0&y=0
For more on the label, go here: http://www.neurotrecordings.com/