SL: Hi there guys, and welcome to The Somber Lane Blog. First of all, I’d ask you to introduce yourselves and your project Ornaments to our readers.
ALESSANDRO: Hi Teo, Alessandro speaking, I’m the guitarist. I’ll briefly recap the band’s origins: the “Ornaments” project was born roughly in 2003. I was walking towards the “Atlantide”, an historic social center in Bologna, to attend a gig when I heard Riccardo (who’s still with us, on drums) via SMS. I had just been to an Isis show during the Oceanic tour, and I was astonished by the “breath” I received from that.
At the time, I had been already playing with The Death of Anna Karina for quite some time but I was feeling the need for rhythms and spans that were to be different from the “short-breathed” ones brought by punk rock.
Well, we started out like that, with that idea, and with a line-up made up by me, Davide, Riccardo and Simone (now replaced by Enrico).
Ornaments turned out to be a project in relentless evolution, back-boned by hours of rehearsals and gigs between Italy and over the Alps. That kept going until 2006, then we stopped for 5 years.
Then in 2011, thanks to the arrival of Enrico as a new bassist and to that feeling of “choking” given by the interruption of that “breath” occurred years ago, we finally started playing over again.
In 2013 Pneumologic finally saw the light. That was actually our first official release. It is a concept album centered around the theme of “breathing” (indeed), or in better words, inspired by the Pneumological Theory by Galen. Luca Zampriolo (aka “Kallamity”), appreciated artist and active on many sides, took care of the graphical part (as well as he always did for any graphical content for Ornaments, since our beginnings).
Ornaments is a heavy machine, slow and unrelenting.
We’re moving by six, and the idea is that of creating a performance that has to be entertaining both for us and at the same time for our fans (I’ll maybe get accused of presumption here). We always worked a lot on our tones and sounds, involving a new and important person, Colette Baraldi, which takes care of generating real-time visuals during the gig. We move around with our personal sound engineer and bulky, heavy amps.
The result is a lot of volume, well managed by our engineer Gianluca Turrini: we then pour our heart, blood and sweat into it.
In the end, Colette helps us bringing all of that beyond mere music.
SL: Alright, given that “Pneumologic” has been now mentioned my question comes almost spontaneously, as an interviewer but also -and mostly- as a fan: when will we have the pleasure of listening to the follow-up to this marvelous record? Do you have something in the works already? Could you unveil us anything?
ENRICO: We decided to cut down the number of live shows at the moment, we’re spending time in our rehearsal room to compose new material for a new album. We have scheduled a gig, that we aren’t sure to announce with absolute certainty -being the album still in the setup phase- but well, it shall see the light let’s say about in the first semester of 2015.
We don’t schedule anything low-term for ourselves, we’d rather get things done according to the rhythms of our everyday lives.
ALESSANDRO: As I was saying not long ago, Ornaments is a demanding project that moves slowly but with determination. We don’t live in the same city and we have intense lives, so we have few occasions for rehearsing. The composing process, even if going on fluidly thanks to the great chemistry we found as musicians, asks for time and commitment. We will enter the studio in a few weeks. Something will come out in times that are still not definite, but won’t be eternal for sure.
SL: Which are the main influences who contributed to create and uniquely shape the sound of Ornaments?
DAVIDE: Hi there Teo, I’m taking over now in this long-distance chat.
The bands we look up to still remain mainly two in number: Neurosis and Breach, which incarnate the possible crossroads that marked the experimental side of “heavy” in the last years: the warm, emotive and visceral side on one hand and the cold, hyperborean and cerebral one on the other.
For importance and innovation, we consider them as two watershed-bands.
Our difficulty has always been that of balancing technical-musical possibilities, time at our disposal and instrumental attitude with the coordinates traced by our influences, while keeping the strife for a development of personal elements of originality. We always tried, however, to attenuate the post-rock feel given by the absence of a leading vocal element, to favor the inspiration we’re still getting from our major influences.
ALESSANDRO: I’ll follow up to what Davide is saying by expressing a personal point of view. I think that the Ornaments “project”, other than taking inspiration from bands of the post-hardcore\sludge\post-metal scene (call it as you wish), has always been our ground for tone research.
The “personality” of a tone, or of a sound (as a result of the entire band and not just as the sum of those of the individuals that take part in it) is something that always caught us and in which we tried to dig deeper since the beginnings.
For an Ornaments gig to be effective, and hence to make sense, it’s pretty much a must for it to be supported by our instrumentation, our sound engineer, and adequate technical conditions.
That’s not for arrogance or snobbery, but for the need to generate something that would persuade us (and then our fans too). That would happen and make sense only to certain conditions.
That choice always asks us for certain “transport costs” which came to neglect some possible gigs, made impractical by our requests, often marked as excessive and unjustifiable here in Italy, for an underground act as we are.
SL: I noticed that “Pneumologic” is available for free download, via your Bandcamp page. Why have you opted for this choice?
Do you think that it would better fit the scheme of nowadays’ music business?
How would you forecast your own future and that of other local underground bands in the Italian musical scene?
ENRICO: The act of sharing comes spontaneous to me. It’s something “pure”, immaculate.
To share some knowledge means spreading, divulging, in years in which technology is becoming accessible to anyone.
Every one of us is bonded to a job: we can’t make a living neither with our album incomes nor with the ones from our gigs. That is not a business for us, we’re just doing it four ourselves. We’re taking some time to be together, in a rehearsal room or elsewhere, and play.
We can’t have any forecast on our future but we’re certain we’ll keep on going, doing things our way, and according to our timetables. Playing keeps being a moment of fun and release, and we think it should just be taken that way.
The Italian musical scene is so various (and partly unknown to me) that I couldn’t make such a forecast. There are -and will be- some great bands releasing great albums that I appreciated and I’ll be appreciating, there will be bands I’ll never get to know because time is never enough, and so on…I’m saying all of that meaning it is never easy to “see what will happen”, and I personally don’t trust anyone who claims to be able to.
ALESSANDRO: We live in complex times for independent music in Italy. Talking of music business really comes like an euphemism, almost as a contradiction may I say.
There’s no income from productions, live music isn’t much followed, and is treated with indifference. The sense of “freedom” brought by the internet gets counterproductive as it drains value from what it may offer by itself.
Ornaments is a collective aimed towards an indefinite and manifold future. I don’t think it should be safe to attempt hazardous forecasts. In my opinion, however, the Italian musical scenario is coming to a possible phase of over-crowding and “stall” of its offering, being so obviously ruled by marketing practices.
Everything keeps going at impressive paces, but almost nothing is leaving a mark. Agencies are born and then dying in a few months, the same happens to bands disappearing just within the release of an album and a handful of gigs.
I’m not much interested in what happens around, we’re generally determined and focused on keeping ourselves steady.
SL: We have sadly come to the end of our brief chat.
Before closing up, however, I’ll leave you space for final regards. If you’d like to thank anyone, say something to your fans and our readers, that’s your moment.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time, it’s really been a great pleasure to be hosting you on the “pages” of TSL.
DAVIDE: Thank you for the attention you gave us.
I personally can’t feel a distinct and definite fan base for Ornaments, at the moment: first, because we aren’t particularly linked to a specific niche of audience, as for example that of metal fans or stoner ones, then because the use of social networks as the one and only communication channel tends -apparently in a counter-intuitive way- to rarefy relationships between a band and its fans.
My personal wish for the time being is to keep finding people willing to actively support venues, promoters, private initiatives, blogs, and whatever could contribute to build up a network and some sort of “critical mass” around Italy’s independent music scene, in all of its faces.
*Photos by ELIANA GIACCHIERI PHOTOGRAPHY*