Last year, Italian mostly-instrumental quartet Orbe created one of those albums that I listened to with half an ear and then didn’t get back to for a while. Sometimes that’s an indicator of an album without a whole lot of immediacy, and sometimes it simply indicates the laziness of the audience. In the case of Albedo, the cause falls squarely into the latter category. Somehow Orbe have lifted all the narrative glory and tense emotional highs out of the post-metal milieu and trimmed away all the awful repetition and obvious crescendos. Chords and rhythms collide out of nowhere, occasionally in agreement but most often in dissonant wrestling matches whose only clear result is a kickass song. Albedo is filled with hard-driving, predatory music that you could solve trigonometric systems to. (That’s not hypothetical. I’ve seen it happen.)
There’s not much Internet info available on the Italian proggers, so I was excited to interview them and shine some light on these interesting musicians. I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that, as this interview tends to spelunk deeper into the shadowy recesses rather than expose them to the sun, but the explanations are interesting, nonetheless. Push play on that SoundCloud box you see down below, and if you like what you hear, get over to the Orbe website (http://www.orbe.it) and download the whole amazing experience. And with artwork as killer as this, maybe you even click on the “Buy Now” button and own that shit. Rabbit hole, here we come…
Who are Orbe? How did the band get started?
The band Orbe is the result of years of our research. Research of what?
[Over the] years the meaning of this word assumed different aspects. We began with the idea of forming a band with an adolescent enthusiasm, just like, “Ok we will write some songs and then let's go play live.” After a couple of years we understood that this wasn't [really] what we were looking for.
So we pushed our research more deeply on music, we took a lot of time to compose our songs, we started to think about the meaning of music, and of art in general. Now we're still looking for this meaning, but we revolved our eyes inside our self, we are trying to feel what kind of dynamics spring directly from our deepest drives.
What influenced you to write the music on Albedo?
Of course Albedo is full of musical influences. I think one of each band member brings his own background, so you can find some sonority like in Tool, or some psychedelic path like in Pink Floyd or some dark ambient like in Ulver and so on... About literature we explicitly dedicated our album to the Joseph Campbell's "hero with a thousand faces" where Campbell explores his theory of journey of the archetypal hero. All important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” So for Campbell this is a "structure" of human mind, using the words of Jung: “A dream is a personal myth; a myth is the public dream of a society.”
We're also interested by Oriental philosophies like Zen, Taoism, Buddhism, Tantra; in few words we can say that we are interested of exploring our selves and [these philosophies] are all instruments for this aim.
Your songs are very long and multifaceted. When they were written, did those ideas flow, each one into the next, or are these various ideas that the band assembled into complete songs?
Both. Sometimes we worked on two different ideas and then we merged it in one song, sometimes we developed a single idea in a sort of path.
Is it your choice to continue creating instrumental music, or are you interested in including vocals?
Actually we are working with a little bit of voice (we have started working to the new album from the end of “Arjuna” [Albedo’s final track]).
What personal emotional or philosophical territory were you exploring with Albedo? What do you hope it communicates to your audience?
Even if Albedo is a “heavy” album we think [of] our music as “introspective.” So we're not interested that Albedo will comunicate some particular message or emotion. We just hope that it could evoke something: joy, anger, reflection, relaxation… [The exact emotion] is not important... You can think that this is in discord with the fact that we did a concept album. But we are musicians, we're not writing a book, so the music is our direct and principal message. We just provide it in a opportune "container" that offers a comfortable environment to be penetrated. Of course if someone start to read Campbell after listening us we could only be honored.
How often does Orbe perform live? Any difficult or interesting experiences with the live shows?
Actully we are not playing live really often. There are many reasons. First, we have been [busy with] our "every day life" in last year; and second, in Italy you have to [make] a lot of effort to organize some live shows. Finally we're working on new songs. We played Albedo live many times before recording it, and I think we will do the same with our next album. For us the live [show] is a sort of test and we prefer begin the recording process after long work on our songs.
I've been encountering more Italian heavy music recently. Do you feel like the metal scene is growing in Italy?
I think alla the Underground scene in Italy is really florid (sic). The problem we encounter here is that all the people live in their little gardens. So musicians goes to listen to concerts, actors goes to theatre, graphics artists goes to graphics exibitions and so on... And the people that don’t have any particular artistic interest are totally dedicated [to] some kind of social climbing, like having a nice car, one or more pretty girls (or boys), a favourite football club and spreading a lot of words about your car, your girl (boy) and your football team ([remember] that we have been governed for 17 years by Berlusconi...) so there's not enough audience for underground music.
What comes next for Orbe?
As I [said], we're working hard on a new album. We're trying to compose something really different from Albedo, so we're experimenting a lot, we don't know where we are going, but we are on the way.