No avenue of escape – OvO talks Abisso.
Pitch black, brutal, noisy, cinematic, psychedelic, OvO release their masterwork Abisso. Summing up over a decade of underground releases and playing to smaller audiences of the faithful, with this release at the tail end of 2013 it’s hard not to be impressed, perhaps even jealous.
Great releases get under your skin and make see the bands previous releases in another light, perhaps even putting the other records on your shelf in a different order, sometimes even away.
‘Abisso does this and more. Summarising a variety of genres and condensing them to their most primitive elements before combining them, OvO create a sense of permanence, majesty, and danger. In various places we can hear the repetitious elements of ravecore meeting black metal and industrial in a pre-lingual jungle of carnivorous encounters.
Abisso is not a happy place, it’s an amoral rather than immoral landscape of survival and death. It also sounds a bit like glam rock and Goblin.’
After over 13 years of creating powerful encounters of the id within the beer-and-ego underground scene, how much is still chance?
Reminding us not to touch anything, gentleman and drummer Bruno Dorella allows us inside OvO.
Trebuchet: When playing live do you use the same reverb effects on the drums?
Bruno Dorella: What a great first question! Usually it’s more like “why OvO?” or “what are your influences?”. I don’t remember any interview beginning with a technical question, and you have our eternal gratitude for it.
handmade fuzzes, distortions
and oscillators, especially.
Some of them are so
wild that it’s really hard
to control them
The reverbs I use on the album are of different kinds, and they’re all manual and have been made “live in studio”. It’s impossible to do it in a concert, so we just use the reverb from the mixer they have at the club. Good mixer = good reverb, and viceversa.
Ok then, but how does this work for live effects on the guitar?
I adore these questions! Stefania changed all of her set: guitar and pedal effects. There’s a lot of work on the guitar sound of this album, and it wasn’t easy to dominate these wild pedals she used. I’m talking about boutique handmade fuzzes, distortions and oscillators, especially. Some of them are so wild that it’s really hard to control them, especially live. And some effects (like the beginning of ‘Tokoloshi’ and ‘Aeneis’) will always be slightly different. But after many attempts we finally mastered them.
Anyway for Stefania’s music vision the live performances always have to be unique, she never really plays or sings the same thing over and over. On the other side, the delays, octavers and loopers she uses are more classic, so that was easy to control. I could spend hours talking about these things, I have to stop cause I don’t want to be too boring.
On ‘Tokoloshi’ I get the sense that you (collectively) are channeling something very primitive with the tools of technology, how do you see it?
‘Tokoloshi’ is definitely the most primitive song of the album and it rates pretty high in our whole production, which is quite primitive itself.
There’s not a lot of technology in that song, but somehow it sounds like there is some. I think it’s because of Stefania’s distortions and oscillators that picked up my drum sound while we were playing (the album is recorded live). But anyway primitivism and technology are definitely two key-words for Abisso.
What role do you think technology has in our future?
I think everybody can see it. But I also think there will be more and more people who will escape from city poison and live in the nature in the next years. Richer people will probably live in the nature, being well set with technology in their fancy rural houses, which is actually a pretty good idea.
Is this a reflection of OvO’s take on Italian society? I guess I’m asking if there is there a statement here because the music is so ‘forceful’?
We don’t relate to a local reality when we think as OvO. We really feel part of something bigger and, if I can dare, higher. I mean on a spiritual level. As Italians living in Italy, I can say society is pretty fucked up here, but I don’t want to sound like a generalistic rebel. It’s pretty fucked up everywhere, just that Italy is a bit more “special”.
What is the concept of ‘harmonia’? How does it apply to the microcosmic and macrocosmic, and which world does it relate to?
It’s related to a study that Stefania did on some books regarding instrument tuning. You probably know that today’s standard (440 Hz) was set by Hitler as the official German tuning, because it was Wagner’s favourite and because apparently it has a strong effect on the central nervous system.
Before that, tuning was quite open, many orchestras used the 432 Hz up to 442 Hz. The 440 Hz was strongly disapproved by some composers, like Giuseppe Verdi. Many people think that 432 Hz is the cosmic and natural harmonic tuning.
Having seen the care and precision in your related band Ronin is it harder to create a record that feels loose like Abisso?
They’re just two different kinds of precision and care. I have to say Ronin is a big effort, but Abisso was one of biggest efforts I’ve ever made. There’s a lot of work behind this loose sound. Of course it has a lot to do with Stefania’s instinctive approach, but also with our common passion for noisy, challenging, adventurous music.
‘Harmonia Macrocosmica’ captures something very 70s rock, almost like Led Zeppelin. Are you with the past or against it?
Even if I’ve never thought about Led Zeppelin when working on that song, how can we be against all the wonderful music that has been made in the centuries? We’re here because of our love for music, and we love all of it, from early vocal polyphony to breakcore.
Tell us about working with Evangelista. Was it the whole ‘band’ or just Carla?
I invited Carla when she had a day off during a tour in Italy, cause I knew she appreciated our music. I also invited the rest of the band, but I didn’t know if they would have felt like doing it, or they just wanted to enjoy their day off. They’ve been so nice and they all wanted to join the jam, and the result is pure magic.
Abisso? What does this mean to you? Is it you being theatrical? or something ‘deeper’?
It’s what we felt when we were working on the album. We felt we were going deep to a point of no return for our music, something that we couldn’t step back from. It was great but difficult too, and we knew that everything was going to change for us. That’s why we decided to perform without masks after 13 years and more than 700 masked shows. It’s a statement.
What it is it about Italy that turns out such great underground noise bands like OvO and ZU?
And many others! There’s a very strong scene here, and I’m proud that bands like Zu and OvO (and let me add Area and Starfuckers in the past decades) have been prime movers for it. I bet you’ll hear about the Italian scene more and more in the next few years.
What’s the largest audience you’ve played to with OvO?
We’ve experienced everything between 3 and 3000 people. Maybe the biggest audience was at Supersonic in Birmingham a few years ago, but I may forget something.
Any tour plans with OvO?
We just came back from Russia (a blast!), now we’re presenting Abisso in Italy until the end of the year, then in January and February we’ll tour Europe. In April we should tour the UK, hopefully with Gnaw. And in June we should go to the US. We’ll tour pretty much all the time until next Summer.
Many thanks for answering our questions.
Many thanks for these interesting questions.