From the Middle East, a new Israeli band –with experimented musicians- is conquering the Metal scene with its new album called SwineSong, an exotic release mixing Progressive & Avant-garde music. The 4 members of Omb answer to our question, to present their project to Metal Waves’ readers.
Xul : First of all let me congratulate you this Masterpiece called SwineSong, Omb a new band with talented artistes, can you present the band from its beginning to our readers?
The Boolbool: "Masterpiece" – THANK YOU!!
Omb is a four piece group, originally formed in Haifa, Israel by Vidi Dolev, Or Rozenfeld and myself. Recently we recruited a new member, an old friend, Yuval Kramer, who was a session player and the sound engineer in SwineSong. At the very beginning, (~2009) Omb was a 5 piece performing act. We did some local shows for about a year or two, and then entered straight to the production of SwineSong. This is pretty boring… so let's make a long story short. Omb is a high school band, which was meaningful enough to survive all these hard times and devious roads.
Xul : Why did you choose Omb (previously known as Of Marble's Black) as band’s name?
Or: As you probably noticed, our current name is the acronym of our old one. But it is not pronounced like S.O.D but as a word that intentionally has no real meaning. The origin of the name is taken from the renaissance poet and lute artist John Downland. He wrote a song named “In Darkness let me dwell”, where he describes his feelings of isolation and emptiness. In the poem he describes a room so dark it is blacker than darkness itself (very metal\m/). He used the image “The walls of marble’s black”. He described his desperation as if the notes of his music were hellish jarring sounds that banish away his chance to sleep peacefully. It suited what we were doing back then, but after a while we felt this image binds us to a very specific sound and emotions that didn’t suit all of the members and some of the materials anymore. We wanted to be free of genres, and one of the steps in this Extreme Makeover process was to shorten the name to this vague sound that has no specific meaning - everything goes. I’d like “Omb” to become a term dictionary for “That cool band from Israel” ;).
Xul : Band members are playing with other bands; Amaseffer, Dark Serpent and Reign Of The Architect, can we call you (Omb) the experimented team?
The Boolbool: We are Omb, that's a fact. Many say that we are experimenting, so I can approve this as well. A team you say? Yes. I guess we are, but not the 'Super-Group' kind of team. From the projects you mentioned, SwineSong is the newest release, and many don't know that it is also the home band for Vidi, Or and I. It was formed much before we joined those other projects. It was the first serious project for me, it shaped me the most and made me the beautiful man I am today. I think that's also true for Vidi and Or.
Xul : SwineSong, 10 pieces of Avant-garde Metal, progressive and highly experimental music, where we listen to many instruments “Violon, Trumpets, Double Bass…” and special-arranged parts; mid-tempo, acoustic and soft parts, and sometimes aggressive and brute passages.How the writing process did take place, it is not so easy to combine all those things in one album, especially when it was Avant-garde and Progressive?
Davidavi: I guess there was nothing out of the ordinary in the process of composing the music. As anybody else, we just poured our ideas instinctively and impulsively. Maybe this is why SwineSong is a varied album. There was no decision to write in X Style.
I feel like we didn’t really know what we’re doing. It was our first real serious band and music was sort of a need at the time (still is). For all I know we could end up writing a disco album. Nothing was decided from the start, especially not the genre. I think if someone claims he is an Avant-Garde artist, he should really know the precise chronicles of things, and even then, declaring yourself a pioneer, seems wrong to me. I mean, it’s a nice ambition but the tower of Babylon crumbles quickly. Don’t be a charlatan, just write whatever you have in your mind and let the listeners crown whoever they want. It doesn’t matter anyway because if you count other people while writing your music it will never be as authentic as YOU can be. People can hate you for your truth but they will cherish the honesty. If our next album will be a brass quartet, I hope it will be from the right reasons and not for anyone else’ satisfaction besides ourselves. This was the process of SwineSong, we just wanted to write something WE would like to listen to, sat our asses down and screamed at each other for a few years and poof! I hope we will be able to do it again.
I think it’s important to try and be humble as you approach a new empty chart, to realize that even if you have a big idea - it’s an experiment and the result is unpredictable for most of the times - otherwise, this is a shitty windmill to chase. I think we had one unspoken rule - It should feel right, and we used each other as monitors and lie detectors. The terms of what’s right can change with the context I think. It’s like - “Hey! I don’t like girls playing with my nipples, but comes the right woman and maybe I’d love that!” It should feel right. Only then you can rest. No nipples were harmed during the making of this album by the way.
Xul : What did you reply when I say; “combining Avant-garde music and Progressive Metal is like marrying Disorder and Logic”?
The Boolbool: I never thought about it before, but they always say that opposites attracts, don't they!?
When the band was formed and during the writing process, there was never an agenda of combining genres. I guess it is the fact that the three of us were messing with the music, made it sound like a disorder and logic fusion. Knowing the people involved, I can say it makes sense. When we started the production we kind of realized that it is going to get weird, I remember some of the talks. And when the reviews started arriving we started receiving genre stamps – many of them. Which is both cool and confusing – we finally have scenes to be part of, but we don't feel we fit in. The story of my life all over again.
A lot of people say we took progressive music to a new place… but since we never came from the progressive vision, whatever it is, I just think we made something that is less familiar to our listeners. There are some much weirder weddings going around the world all the time, and they are probably pretty normal in their own environment.
Xul : Which are the principal influences of Omb?
Davidavi: Oh, that’s a hard one... I think the answer changes by the day. Big chances are that you’ll get a different answer tomorrow. For me, Omb’s principal influences are mainly inner forces that haunt a certain catharsis. People told me all of my life to try and channel negative vibes into some none violent expression. “You will feel much better once it’s out of your system”. But guess what?? Dealing by channeling emotions only made the values of these vibes grow. No catharsis for me. In fact, digging into what influences me to write music, makes me spiral into myself instead of vomiting out whatever that sits in my stomach. You think you are dealing with your shit, while you’re actually creating a loop, using your inabilities that eventually lead you into frustration, which is the second principal behind this music. The loop gets bigger. SwineSong for me is sort of a shrine where I was able to eulogize the creative process at; so loneliness became the last main principal influence. With all of these elements together, I was ready to “rock”.
As for main musical influences!? Eventually everything got the same amount of meaning. A really old salsa album was as important as the extreme metal we had been listening to. The list of artists clouding above who we are as musicians is constantly getting longer. Serge Ginsburg or Pig Destroyer - everything works. I really like old cheesy music and at the same time I love intense modern textures. I like things that mess with my ears and I love music that can be both negative and funny at the same time... I can go on forever! We’re music lovers before we’re musicians, so the list doesn’t really end. Looking at our records collection, I think I can say we have managed to create a musical collage with our inner influences as the ugly bids and the art we were exposed to as the used snorted glue.
Xul : Unexpect, is the first Avant-garde Metal band I had listen to, did you listen to their music?
Davidavi: In 2008 I was very happy to find a copy of “In a Flesh Aquarium” at Grasspop Metal Meeting. I listened to it for a while and found it pretty accessible, which was cool. I enjoyed that album and If I’m not mistaken the Boolbool did as well. They are a cool band and insanely good instrumentalists, but I’m afraid beyond that specific album, we did not follow the rest of their career. We hear more and more about them now as reviews get published and it seems like people hear common elements in our music. I do think we deliver a slightly different approach than these bands we were compared to (not for better or worst), but we are most definitely proud to appear in this list of names. That’s a nice shelf to be on.
The Boolbool: True! Every time I listen to it, I can see a princess in the woods, running away from a monster/hunter/bad guy. Just like the classic Disney fairy tales. Theatrical level: Über-Expert! And it is to my taste. Also you can tell they are good players, but no one is trying to show off. Everything they do serves the atmosphere. Great album.
Xul : I find a philosophic touches in your lyrics, themes are based on mental humanity “illness”; feelings. What inspired you when you are writing lyrics?
Davidavi: I think the principal influences we had mentioned before apply both for the music and the lyrics. I’m still shocked people are reading the lyrics. Less and less people do it, so thank you for spending your time experiencing the entire thing as a whole.
The inspiration behind the lyrics was a need. Just like the composing process, it was something I had to get out of my system. The lyrics are indeed ill in a way. I was trying to reflect some pathologies without pointing an exact finger on each difficulty. There was a certain hope to be salvaged if I write down my feelings. Boolbool mentioned once in an interview that he feels like the album is taking all what we’ve been through and blasting the snare with all of your past. I’m a very verbal human being, sometimes too much. It is exhausting to try and explain myself. The more I feel misunderstood, the more I talk. I’m afraid that if I try to explain what lies behind these words I wrote, we will never be able to really reach the point. I was in pain, so I was trying to express it, to squeeze the pus out. I was aware the lyrics might expose parts in me I’d have hard time to explain later. But it had to be there, even if now I’m failing to explain it... Maybe somehow my struggle to answer this question, gives you a better answer than I could ever give you.
Xul : Now after releasing the album, what are your future’ projects? Are you planning a tour to promote SwineSong? Or just waiting feedbacks from medias?
The Boolbool: OK, regarding Omb, we are working on the lineup for the live performance. First in Israel and then we hope to take it out to wherever it is possible. In the meantime, we are working on some new materials for Omb's next release and some regular band stuff. But we all have other musical projects such as Dark Serpent and Reign of the Architect, which basically are doing the same as Omb, Or is playing a lot in the local Jazz scene, and we are all keeping ourselves busy as musicians. That’s why we decided to open our own private small group, a label you may say, which contains all of our adventures in one way or another. It is called 'Ward7' and it will unite under its wings different styles and some music that cannot really find its place through other platforms. It's the platform for all those who don't have a platform haha. We are many, and we have a lot going on. We'll try to keep you updated.
Xul : SwineSong was Mixed and Mastered at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden, by André Alvinzi and the well-known Jens Bogren, can you tell us about this experience?
Or: Working with Andre’ and Jens was absolutely wonderful. Andre’ was our choice for mixing the album and Jens was in charge on the mastering. Andre’ is golden. During the production we finally got to understand a critical point - the more we will take over the production beyond what was already in our hands, the more time it will take to finish the album and the less pleasant it would be to our colleges. We wrote everything, brought in the players and produced them. We had Kramer with his hands on the engineering, helping us land this baby safely - then it was time to let go. One of the strongest things about adding a sound engineer in the middle of the production is that everything is fresh in his ears and he has his own perception of how things should feel and sound like. It’s like we were down there in a submarine with water up to our ears, and Andre’ could purpose an objective, new point of view for the album. Besides his professional knowledge he is a cool musician and he got great ears for details. He was the last layer of interpretation that plugged all the holes in the ship, emphasizing some pearls we took for granted. When we started we just gave him the sources and told him nothing. There were no references, we just wanted him to do what he felt right, and we think he did a great job. After a short era of ping ponging with the mixes, letting him know our thoughts and being surprised every time with the great result, the job was done. He is very talented and easy going and we enjoyed listening to the final result and rediscover our music. It was terrific!
Xul : The album’s Artwork is released by the American guy Scott Shellhamer, representing a portrait of sad woman, beautiful and mysterious paint, what is the meaning of this cover-art ?
And how did cooperation was arranged with Scott?
The Boolbool: We had few ideas for the cover art. Some very specific ideas I must say, and when you go specific, there's a lack of meaning and the ability for interpretation – that didn't work… So we started roaming the web to find artists and ideas. One day, a phone was ringing, I picked it up. It was Vidi. "I found the perfect art for the cover" he said, "I don't know why, but it just fits". Well it fits. Just like that.
We contacted Scott, he actually needed to paint it again from some reason, and did an excellent job. He also made the entire booklet, which was perfect on the first round. No corrections were needed at all (except our own spelling mistakes haha). A true professional. Thanks Scott!
Actually, now when I think about it, everyone we worked with on SwineSong has a part in shaping the big picture. They all made SwineSong and Omb what they are today. That includes the cover art, sound engineers, musicians and pizza delivery guys.
Xul : On September 1st you created an independent private small-label called Ward7, I guess you are tired from music industry and you decided to take your music projects on your own hands, can you tell us about this new project?
Yuval K: I guess you guessed correctly but it is a little more complex than this, as you can guess. We've been talking about it for a long while and the “us getting tired of the music industry” part is only a part of our decision. The main issue, for me at least, is the fact that we are all very active musicians and I was looking for a place to put all of our musical endeavors in. Something like a weird radio-less radio station. A place where we can put all the info, music and news about Amaseffer, Reign of the Architect, Dark Serpent, Omb and all the crap\music that we do under. The Ward contains the four of us and the wonderful musicians Nina Vouraki and Hanan Avramovich. If you collect all of the songs that were written and published by us in the last 6 years you’ll have more than a 100 songs. We want to tie all of our energy to one wagon. It’ll start off as a “record label”, it will expand to some kind of a streaming radio station and only Satan knows where it’ll end.
We have 14 tons of philosophies about it but this is the idea in a nutshell.
Xul : What do you think about the actual Metal Scene?
Yuval K: The metal scene today is like the entire music scene; it enjoys a giant verity and suffers from the same giant verity. For me, good music is music that I believe its creators. It can be ugly old-school thrash metal and it can be the most sensitive flamenco guitar solo. The ease of recording a song today helps so many refreshing artists release their amazing talent upon us and at the same time, the amount of under-produced, under-thought-of and unripe music out there is mind boggling. Raw doesn't mean bad, if it serves the song, if you thought about it and chose it. It is all a matter of meaning, intentions, honesty and emotions.
Bottom line – nothing excites me more than finding a new musician\band that blew my mind, but sadly it rarely happens.
I’m a believer and I’m always looking for that diamond in the coal.
Xul : Thank you. Last Words are yours.
Davidavi: Actually I have one small request - All I know about Tunisian metal is Myrath. I’d love to hear more music from your country. Please send me some stuff? Thank you for exposing us to your readers, I hope people will dig the album. I hope we’ll stay in touch. Anyone else who wants to be our friend is welcomed - we’re lonely! Check our BandCamp and website for more news.
Or: Sadly, our countries are not exactly best friends and it is such a shame!
I really wish the day we will be able to visit one another and have normal relationship will come as soon as possible. It would be amazing to play in Tunisia. Thanks to the Internet, nowadays we can actually meet and see more face from both sides and not only the faces of politicians. We can actually get to know each other! Peace should be established through citizens and not only through governments. I was really excited to hear people are interested in arts, never mind it comes from places that are considered as unfriendly. I am not surprised it happens through the metal scene. Metal was always about breaking conventions, and right now the conventions are to hate each other. Fuck these conventions. Let's all of us be happy and ride to the sunset together. Oh yes! It would be nice if the background music for this scene will be SwineSong haha. Cheers!
By Xul (November 2013)
Answered by Or Rozenfled, Yuval (The Boolbool) Tamir, Davidavi (Vidi) Dolev, Yuval Kramer