By Rob Hughes
Hawaiians have names for two types of lava: pahoehoe and `a`a. The first is smooth and ropey, the second is chunky and rough. Ufomammut’s volcanic expulsions somehow take on both textures. Power chords hum, roll, and ooze in great waves, while a current of spiky noise and feedback roils beneath, sometimes breaking chaotically through to the surface. Then it all cools, leaving behind a landscape of steaming desolation—calmness before the next eruption begins.
This Italian psych-sludge trio have hinted that they’d be capable of a one-track, 45-minute “piece” like Eve. Idolum, their previous album, had everything in place, but Eve takes it to the next logical step. Ufomammut demonstrate supreme control over their music, avoiding the hazards that can mar the single-track album format. It flows perfectly. There are lulls, but it never drags. The pace is undeniably slow (this is a band that released an album called Snailking), yet the dynamics seem to shift constantly. And once the album has been set in motion, you’re compelled to follow it through to the end. I’ll put Eve on thinking I’ll work at something while it rumbles in the background. Three-quarters of an hour later I haven’t moved.
The band describes Eve as “a living homage to the first woman on earth, and the rebellion to her creator for bringing knowledge to mankind.” The lyrics mull over that creator/destroyer duality and are sung using a variety of vocal treatments, most of them heavily reverbed, disembodied, and very much embedded in the overall soundscape. Other phantasmal voices weave in and out—this Eden is a haunted garden, overgrown with dread. For a good portion of Part II, the atmosphere floats on sinister synthesizers in the manner of Ufomammut’s countrymen, horror soundtrack specialists Goblin. When the tension breaks, the band locks in like Neurosis, smothering all previous subtlety in primordial doom riffage.
Eve—the song and the album—sounds like it’s been shaped from molten rock. Ufomammut have dug deep; crafting elusive, unruly elements into something inspired and monumental.