ORO: Opus Primum
, May 10th, 2012 08:23
There's a classic episode of The Simpsons in which Homer, after having lambasted every single entry in Springfield's annual chili cook-off, samples several of Chief Wiggum's 'Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango' and, as a result, proceeds to embark upon the most densely cosmic and hallucinatory journey imaginable. After encountering a giant snake, a psychedelic butterfly and accidentally breaking the sun, Homer's trip culminates in a deeply spiritual encounter with a space coyote who leads him to question the very foundations of his own existence. Now, in your minds, if you can replace the image of a space coyote with that of three imposing stoners with long hair and massive beards, you should be left with the visual equivalent to an ungodly slab of psychedelic doom metal that goes by the name of Opus Primum.
Serving as the first installment in UFOmammut's two-part Oro project, Opus Primum is unashamedly grand in both its scope and sheer ambition. Containing the first five of the project's ten movements, the one thing that becomes apparent upon first listen is the band's immense grasp on dynamics. Opening with an extremely minimal and foreboding synth loop, this tranquil idea is repeated sparsely while a wall of noise gradually builds around it, eventually erupting into a devastatingly doom-ridden crescendo. This may be a well-worn musical technique in 2012, but UFOmammut seem to be well aware of that, using the idea very sparingly throughout and only to advantage of the given piece. Regardless of pace, the music constantly moves forward with a sense of lumbering intensity, be it during a crushing blast of sludge metal or an extremely minimal passage consisting only of whirring electronics.
The band have explicitly stated that Oro should be viewed as one comprehensive piece of music and, as if to reinforce this idea, musical motifs and themes are often revisited and repeated throughout Opus Primum, cleverly reminding the listener that what they are hearing should be heard as such. Given the flawless ease with which each movement flows into the next, it's very easy to see why they possess such a mindset.
Whilst many of their peers are content to turn their fuzz pedals up to eleven and furiously bludgeon their way through fifty minutes of leaf-based worship, this is a path that UFOmammut have always steered sensibly clear of. Since their inception nearly fifteen years ago, they have noticeably developed an ever-increasing respect and knack for the art of songwriting. Unlike many, the band do not suffocate their own songs with a lumbering mass of atonal distortion, but instead let their songs breathe and develop at their own natural pace, peppering the music with fascinating sonic touches and subtle flashes of sound that the listener may not have picked up on initially, striking a perfect balance between light and shade. Their musical vision is one that's so obviously well-honed that they know exactly when to kick the music into overdrive before lulling the listener back into a state of sonic paralysis. This technique of theirs is undoubtedly put to its best use yet on Opus Primum.
For many, the news of an artist releasing a double-album, especially in two separate parts, may justifiably warrant an internal groan. At their best, double-albums are able to brilliantly showcase an artist's outpouring creative diversity, but at their worst, they are exercises in sheer delusion, misguided judgment and shameless self-indulgence (Lulu, I'm scowling in your general direction). Opus Primum may be the only chapter we've heard in the Oro saga thus far, but judging by its immense execution and focus, combined with the band's already stunning track record, UFOmammut have clearly opted for the former.