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Live Report: UFOMAMMUT and White Hills @ Saint Vitus

Sometimes a band rolls through town and you get to see something special. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you know it.

Italian art-doom trio UFOMAMMUT hangs psychedelic-doom clouds of joy. The universe is in their hands. They forge a vacuum that collects your ego, rips from you what you fear most — lets you breathe. Currently cruising the American landscape in a spaceship of art, the group’s righteous vibe is a fresh take here on US soil. They attack their sets with a looseness not often seen in extreme metal. There is something fundamentally European arthouse about them (namely, the ability to command complete attention via abstraction), and this transfers into exciting and propulsive heavy music.

Opening duo White Hills was blue and pink, and wild as always. Fun and serious, with goth rock pulses driving the technical primitiveness they wield; the group hovers in a stratosphere of time travel, dipping into yesteryear’s psych rock and today’s tech. A punk edge defines their momentum and there is dynamic want of power (good power), a power of art and movement. They cut and dare like the band Liars, and stay open with psychedelic innuendo. White Hills believe in colors and darkness. You can’t have one without the other.

UFOMAMMUT performed in complete darkness, save for the video collage behind them which altered the darkness, scattering colors of Jim Morrison’s brain about. It was perfect. The Italian masters crafted a complete swing: they were able to lock everyone in and not let them go — a feat deft and refined. They played with the freedom that abstract expressionism possesses, the ability to carve and blend, and dream. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts, a complete team focused on one never-ending universe. Though they played, and played, it never sounded long, just perpetually enthralling.

There’s so much in the music of UFOMAMMUT, it’s like a melting pot of feeling. The kettle whistles and blows, then dematerializes, sending its spatial design into the spectrum. The band’s latest record 8 plays like a dream: blurry hope and nether-world sensations tingle up and down your spine. There is a soundtrack notion to the record, with its scene by scene direction, and almost Jean-Luc Godard notion of dismantling the norm. The record feels like a live experience, with its organic fluidity and never-ending drive. And when the band does play in front of you, it all clicks: this is music that is experienced in a visceral way. Though mindful and full of intelligence, there is a primal movement to their music that is very specific. The initial reactions to color and sound, that immense beauty and liquidity, that is what is so prominent. You get sucked into the trance and never want it to end. A trip that keeps expanded and pulsing new energy.

Psych rock is one of the greatest aspects of being alive. When you experience artists who can shape its inner-diamond, you realize its power. UFOMAMMUT is powerful group who fully embrace the possibilities and connections of art and music. Of sound, sight and experience, they are game; and like the masters of old, revel in the overall excitement. When psych rock first appeared in the early 1960s, imagine those life-evolving moments that materialized. Those doors of perception that opened. With UFOMAMMUT there is a similar awakening. This is fun and exciting stuff: these are artists that are intent upon dreaming up the universe!

Where they take you, well, that’s up to you.

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