Italian act Aborym have had an interesting and shape-shifting career path since they first appeared in the early 90’s. Led by the innovative maestro Fabban the band’s music and line-up has considerably diversified from early industrial black metal roots to the latest incarnation which sees new album Shifting.Negative moving toward electronic and experimental realms. We spoke at length with Fabban, going right back to his roots and musical evolution as well as looking at the new record and wondering about the future. He certainly hasn’t pulled any punches as far as his views are concerned, so settle back and enjoy this in depth career respective interview…
AN: Ok first let’s head right back to the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about your 1st memories musically you had when growing up and what turned you on to the harder stuff as such? Can you remember what was the first record you bought and first concert you attended?
The very first one, let me think. It was “Somewhere in time” Iron Maiden then. At that time I used to listen to some pop music, then Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, some blues records from the ‘70’s. Then I met a guy at the bus station, after school. I was waiting for the bus to go home and I was wearing a metal-tshirt, maybe an Ozzy Osbourne t-shirt,I can’t remember. This guy asked me something about my music tastes and we had a long conversation about music. Since that day we’d see each other every fuckin’ day at that bus station, doing some very massive tape-trading and music trading. This guy introduced me to extreme metal actually and then I got the chance to meet new friends, more metal heads, punks, goths and I discovered new music.. Industrial music, esoteric ambient stuff, electronica, dark music, noise, harsh-industrial, stuff like that. My first concert was a death metal band called Crepuscule,it was an open-air concert in a college. They played in front of 10 people..
AN: Obviously you developed an interest in more than just listening, what was it that made you decide you wanted to actively participate in playing music yourself?
The need for playing music and to express myself through it.
AN: Did you have any schooling in learning to play instruments or were you more self-taught? Was there anything in particular you concentrated on first?
When I was 5 my parents gave me a little piano-keyboard as a Christmas gift and I was cool with playing that toy My parents realized I really enjoyed playing that piano and they enlisted me to a piano-school, so I got the chance to learn to play the piano. It was here that I was introduced to classical music, and learned to sight-read. I at first hated the piano lessons and had little interests in music. I went through various different teachers and it wasn’t until my last one where I really started to take notice to some amazing music. I discovered the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin. The music was deeply complex, beautiful, and layered with the movements and changes throughout each piece that would sometimes play out for 20 minutes. I had never heard music like this before. Which at this time in my life was hugely influential. After a couple of years I asked my parents to let me try with organs and keyboards, and they did it. That’s why I still love my parents so much.
AN: The 1st band you are listed in playing in are Funeral Oration, in fact you were a founding member I believe and bassist. Tell us a bit about them? Having a quick listen to available music on the net 1st impression is a mix of black and death with doomy undertones. I’m wondering if the likes of Death SS, Paul Chain, Mortuary Drape and other similar luminaries in the Italian scene were influential on them? What led to them folding, they did achieve getting signed to Avantgarde with Sursum Luna in 1996.
That’s perfect. I wasn’t the founding member anyway I was hired to play bass guitar and with that band I recorded just a 2 songs promo-demo and the debut full length “Sursum Luna”. Then the band broke up. At the same time I formed Aborym in 1992, but to play bass guitar with Funeral Oration gave me the chance to improve myself, so it was cool even if it was not “my band”. I never liked to play other people’s music. It’s been this way always.
AN: You started Aborym around 1992, tell us a bit about the early incarnation of the band, what direction were you leaning toward with the early demo material and how easy did you find like-minded participants to play with at the time?
At that time we used to play crap old-school black metal, following the Greek style in a way That very first demo tape is terrible, but I don’t deny it anyway I lived in Taranto at that time, a small city with very few musicians to play with, so it was not so easy to find a drummer and a guitarist and I had no chances to choose at all eh ehh…
AN: By the time Kali Yuga Bizarre hit in 1999 you had put a lot of work into getting the band into shape and had a clearly defined sound merging harsh industrial music and black metal. Firstly what was it that took so long to release your first album? Would I be right in assuming that you are actually a bit of a perfectionist and had to really believe in the material 100% before releasing it?
Absolutely. You got it. I had to find people to play with first, that’s why I moved to Rome in 1996. Then I spent 3 years working on my songs with a full-line-up and that album has been released in 1999. Do awesome music only, or don’t do that: that’s what I always say.
AN: Although pretty unique in essence were you aware of a other artists moving along a similar path such as Mysticum, Dodheimsgard and others that were beginning to emerge such as Diabolicum?
Of course, yes. I was a huge fan of all the bands you mentioned…but I always tried to make something different in a way. Aborym is probably the very first band who combined extreme music with drum n bass, jungle music, classical music, techno and electronica..
AN: I guess around the time you were also heavily into what groups such as Ministry, Skinny Puppy (I could do a massive list here but….) and others doing, were these industrial acts an influence too?
I used to listen to industrial metal music before playing black metal. Before joining Funeral Oration I played in an industrial metal band called The M.e.m.o.r.y. Lab, which stand for The modern expressing machines of revolutionary youth Lab, with Marc Urselli and Funeral Oration’s singer Nick Curri. So at that time I was very familiar with Ministry, Skinny Puppy, the Young Gods, Front Line Assembly All those bands of course influenced me in a way..
AN: Apart from Set Teitan playing under the name of Herr Kremator Sethlans D.T.A., that line-up didn’t really last but with Fire Walks With Us in 2001 you had none other than Tormentor’s Attila Csihar on vocals, how did this meeting of minds come about?
A friend of mine introduced me to this Hungarian dope asshole. At that time he was addicted to Big H, very weird memories.. If I could go back in time, if I could do it over again, I’d do some things differently…
AN: Although he was with you for a couple of albums including ‘With No Human Intervention’ I guess he was always busy and couldn’t stay the course? However you had none other than Prime Evil of the aforementioned Mysticum as well as Faust by 2006 album Generator. How did these Norwegian greats come on board and end up on the album?
Aborym wasn’t economically advantageous so when he got the chance he jumped into the Mayhem train eh ehh.. I’m sure he is getting lots of money now, he becomes such a rock star! Preben and Bard were very close friends of mine at that time, so things happened. I’m still in touch with them, I met Bard 3 months ago in Rome. We had great times..
AN: I think it’s fair to say that after this you began to explore new territories musically with less of an emphasis on the black metal side of things. Psychogrotesque 2010 was a much more narrative driven album examining disturbing realms and experimenting much more musically whilst Dirty (2013) certainly lived up to name and left an uncomfortable taste in the mouth and ears taking me back to everything from Throbbing Gristle to Whitehouse. It feels like everything has moved down a path to where we are at with the new album, would you agree, do you consider that each individual chapter had to exist in order for you to move forward?
It was a natural evolution. So all these albums could be considered as pieces of a script I had in my mind and I tried to build my own studio in order to pander this process of transformation. I learned things pretty much the hard way. The wealth of knowledge that exists now on the Internet wasn’t available at my fingertips during that time so I struggled with building my home studio, and spent many hours learning how to put it together on my own. Although it was hard, I am glad that I experienced it, as it really helped me down the road. I never stop researching and experimentation.
AN: So new album Shifting.Negative and let’s get straight to the question. Nine Inch Nails strike as being a massive influence on the album for so many reasons which I mentioned in the review. Was this intentional or just something that happened along the way, would you even consider that it’s fair to look on the album as a reverential homage to the band in their heyday?
I like to put the listener in an unusual space and in an emotional space, as well. A lot of music that’s out typically touches on normal subject matter and emotions that people — common emotions like love and happiness and sadness. A lot of my compositions are a bit more abstract where I like to take the listener on a strange cerebral sonic adventure. It’s almost like if you were trapped inside a world of corridors and spaces… like a labyrinth’ you have scale, repetition, texture, movement, dynamics, colour, and so on…
I’ve always been drawn more to the kind of music that takes me to places I’ve never been to before. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just a collage of strange sounds and textures that make you feel a certain way. You can’t really put your finger on the emotion that you’re experiencing. Some of it can be unsettling; some of it can be just bizarre at times. Sometimes the outcome is pleasant or very unpleasant; I guess it goes to far extremes at either end of the spectrum. I’m not scared, I’m not the type of person to settle for comfort, but I’m not scared and I’ve an awesome group of talented musicians to play with.. Truth of the matter is that I just wrote music inspired by a very long period of experimentation Nin is a very talented band, I love Nin, but my influences comes from many different places: film, art, and books are probably the most common areas. As strange as it may sound I find to watch at people is very inspiring. I also love and study other artists and composers. I find a lot of inspiration listening to modern artists like Brian Eno, or Massive Attack. I find them constantly pushing the envelope of sound and composition. These artists are really inspiring if you want to explore sound on a more detailed level. I became fascinated with avant-garde, industrial and noise, techno, electro, and everything that can be combined… I was amazed by artists like Ozric Tentacles, or Einsturzende Neubauten for instance.
AN: It’s a completely new line-up this time around again, does it frustrate you constantly having to scout for new members; you can’t be that difficult to work with haha? Is it more a case that Aborym have always intended to be a band in constant flux though maybe? It’s an all Italian line-up this time. Obviously Davide Tiso is well known to us from his work previously with the likes of Ephel Duath, was he an obvious and keen participant and tell us a bit about the others and what they brought to the album?
Basically, I brought together a group of musicians who had never played together before, and not only that, but they came from very different traditions. I began with Dan V and RG Narchost, who are basically open-minded musicians coming from the Metal scene even if they are really into the experimental music actually, and then the keyboard player Stefano Angiulli and the drummer Gianluca, who were rock/metal musicians with different careers. My goal is the have a stable line-up, a stable group of musicians to work with, so I hope to work with these guys till the end. During the last period of the pre-production Dan V replaced Pieri and finally he helped me in order to transform all the demos into complete songs. It was a very positive challenge to push myself to create music that is on a higher level. And now I can finally work with a complete line-up of professional musicians, people and close friends I can work with for the future recordings and live shows. Every day, when we walked into the studio, everyone knew the arrangements and parts that were mapped out, in terms of who was supposed to do what and where. Having said that, the whole point of having a group of musicians like this is to not tie them to a particular approach or way of performing. So, things were kind of loose. They had a lot of input, particularly into the arrangements, or guitar solos. In fact, all the solos are their solos. In general, I’m telling them what to play, but there’s a lot of improvisation too.
AN: There’s one hell of a lot of guest musicians on the album (too many to mention) you must have worked a long time constructing it and had a really clear plan of what you wanted to achieve to tie them all in together? Did they all jump at the chance, how did you go about approaching them? Did you for instance ask them to bring their own ideas to the table, you have power electronic artists, Japanese lyricists, Sin Quirin from Ministry and RevCo doing guitar parts, Victor Love of Dope Star Inc, it must have been a lot of work getting everyone on the same page.
Sometimes I invite people, sometimes they ask me to be part of a record. I like to work with different kind of artists anyway and as far regard Shifting.negative I decided to work with professional sound engineers and sound designer to get the best sound quality. Guido Elmi was hired to be our post-production supervisor, not as a musician then To work with worldwide artists it’s such kind of tradition for this band. Sometimes they ask me to work for our records, sometimes I ask them to do that, sometimes everything happens without forcing events It was awesome to have Mr. Sin Quirin from Ministry, a band I followed since I was a teenager, Ricktor from The Electric Hellfire Club, Mr Davide Tiso of course, Victor Love, Pier Marzano did a super-cool job with his guitar solos too.. It was not so easy to manage all those artists in just one album, but basically I gave ‘em some instructions and I was always opened to welcome their own solutions or interpretations actually. There’s nothing bad or commercially strategic behind that since to work with worldwide artists is something normal for me. Sometimes they ask me to work for our records, sometimes I ask them to do that, sometimes everything happens without forcing events.
AN: Naturally the Internet must have played a huge part in all this, how has making music changed for you since you started the band? What would you say are the positive and negative aspects of technology and the way things have shifted (and yes I kind of did use the album title in this question)?
The industry decides what is to be sold, and the public laps it up without making a choice of their own, supported by too much freedom coming from internet. The Internet has to bear a great deal of responsibility for the present derangement of music. That’s something really weird and unsafe. Everything seems to be controlled and manipulated by a frenetic buzz made up by myths, online magazines, forum, social media and stuff like that. And at the end they’re not really deciding for themselves as the blogger has decided whether the band is worthy to write about or not, usually influenced by another blog. It’s a never ending circle of copy cat! Who can honestly say that if a new band arrived that you adored and who everyone else hated, would you still like them? Probably not.
Internet is one of the main reasons about the music’s lack of creativity and artists lack of bravery. So many musicians just play what the magazines and the audience want to listen. They do that just to please their fan base. I used to play with that kind of assholes in a recent past. And that’s very sad, but not my business.
AN: Song wise I found the album very well paced with some full and raging numbers moving into more sinuous and slow burning parts brooding away between them. Did everything kind of click together like a well-made jigsaw puzzle in this sense?
I approached this record the way I approach all my records, so I start to write music and I make demos that communicated to the other members what I wanted the band to do. The difference this time is that I allowed a lot more space for accidents and I used to disassemble and assemble the songs many times. I created the music of this record combining different machines, playing modular synthesizers, custom hand-made instruments, software, VSTs, plugins, some old analogue synthesizers and drum machines, for example a TR-808 and a TB-303 or an ARP 2600.. I did 90% of everything based on the combinations and the physical interaction of the instruments: so playing them, shaping them, changing parameters, patching. It’s an entirely different therapeutic experience you have with these instruments, like playing a guitar, or something that is emotionally connected to your brain and your hands. It’s similar to painting or drawing for me… So the music comes out with different moods through different layers. It’s a mixture of what we learned with the electronics, with modular synthesizers, sampling and HD recording and of course everything is mixed with a metal, rock, alternative and punk hidden soul. The main purpose was to create textures and spaces that had some sort of acoustic element that could be mixed with more synthetic sounds… I loved morphing the two worlds together and tried to create these sonic environments. Which I call Industrial music. Made by men and then part of it is executed by machines.
AN: As a track that particularly stuck out ‘10050 Cielo Drive’ is obviously about The Manson murders and really has the essence of these terrible crimes about it complete with utilising the families music within it. Charles Manson often gets looked upon as a modern day folk-hero by many, perhaps wrongly so and dangerously too. What are your thoughts on this personally and what led you feeling the need to explore it again as you did before on Helter Skelter Youth. I am also interested if you have seen Jim Van Bebber’s Manson Family film?
I did. What Van Bebber does accomplish is to make a film true to its subject. It doesn’t bring reason, understanding, analysis or empathy to Manson; it wants only to evoke him. It is not pro-Manson, simply convinced of the power he had over those people at that time. In a paradoxical way, it exhibits sympathy for his victims by showing their deaths in such horrifying detail. In its technical roughness, its raw blatant crudeness, it finds a style suitable to the material; to the degree that it was more smooth and technically accomplished, to that degree it would distance itself from its subject and purpose.
AN: I did also query in the review “Is that a distorted sound of pigs grunting behind the piano of ‘For A Better Past?’ Was this also in line with the whole concept and again something that spilled over from Nine Inch Nails?
ah ahhh ahh.. No no.. that sound comes from the Arturia Microbrute, which is a monophonic analog synth.
AN: So too the very striking artwork, tell us a bit about that and who was behind it, I have seen lots of different versions of it popping up on your Facebook pages, was it difficult choosing which one to use in the end?
I usually work as a digital designer and I always do my stuff on a computer. This time I wanted something coming from real materials and to do that I realized it would be better to work with a real professional. artist. David Cragnè was hired to create the Shifting.negative concept artwork. There’s an interesting short docu-video about the creation of the artwork which is called Shifted.negative.art with some footage coming from the work-in-progress times till the final result, plus an interview with this awesome artist.
AN: You made a very striking video for ‘Precarious’ Urban decay and childhood seem to be the two central premises of it but it also seems to allude to a nuclear accident like Chernobyl. Is that what it is specifically representing, the destruction of a generation due to so called progress?
Some lyrics are parts of my deep thoughts, they are excerpts of my life, very bad periods I was trying to survive surrounded by lots of problems, alcohol, seclusion and a very bad mood. “Precarious” is one of those I also wrote about the feelings like missing something you once cherished, the dreams fade away into nothingness, leaving only a faint memory of what once was considered perfection. But every so often, they come back, without warning..
I wrote about the feeling when you are tortured by memories, dreams of the love. Not wanting to forget, but knowing that if you do not forget, do not let go, you’ll go insane wanting them. Also, about the dreams turned into nightmares, love forsaken, betrayed. All the dreams have gone wrong, stuff like that.
AN: Something I also said was “this album may leave a few older fans by the wayside,” then again that’s progress and you have to go with your heart, was it a concern though?
It’s hard sometimes to appreciate what fans appreciate but our fan-base is a very open-minded and they know Aborym is such a kind of perpetual-motion laboratory. I’m very proud of some of our previous albums but that doesn’t mean I want to hear them or I will write stuff like that in future. It’s more a question of being proud of the material and remembering that the albums worked very well thematically. They cohered very well together and the songwriting was very strong. I don’t know if that answers the questions very well… but I feel very good in writing music that I really like, something symbiotically connected with the experimentation, a certain technique behind the machines and the work in studio, the quality of the music, the themes, the concepts, ideas… I wanted to change as artist over the years, no matter what the critics or the public say. One of my biggest challenges about SHIFTING.negative is not letting down people that know the records intimately. The bottom line is that there are always going to be people who are disappointed. There will always be someone who will hear the record as alien because it doesn’t sound the same standard boring black-death metal style. There are thousands of bands like that outside, just go and choose it.. I think black metal (as well as death metal and stuff like that) in the last years and more and more has completely become very sterile, futile, and in most of cases very childish. There are actually lots of paradoxical and childish things in it, I’m not going to participate in this childish little feud.
AN: What have reactions been like so far, I did notice you took umbrage at one particular review stating quite rightly in my opinion that the “critic” (something too many think themselves of in the Internet age) simply didn’t understand the album. I take it you do have an active interest in what people are saying?
I try to stay away from the internet, forums and stuff like that. The bottom line is that there are always going to be people who are disappointed. There will always be someone who will hear the record as alien because it doesn’t sound the same standard boring black-death metal style. Everything sucks so much out there. I think social media had a disruptive effect on the music industry without doubt, but artists can now have a dialogue with fans that they never had before. Basically I think fans are destroying the music and internet and all the social media are helping this weird process. The ideology behind music freedom has destroyed the working class musician and independent labels and this is hardly the case when only 1% of artists are successfully making a living from their music. The 1% is living the lifestyle of the rich and famous; however, the 99% are one poorly-promoted show away from being homeless. For God’s sake, something has to give. I believe the healing will begin when the public is educated on how the music business works sans the VH1 movies and Hollywood imagery. If fans understood what it takes to make a record — all the time, money, people, and energy — they would have more respect for the art and science of it. If they could experience, on some part the dedication and sacrifice artists endure, their nonchalant attitudes toward paying artists what they owe would change. Fans don’t realize that artists of today were fans of yesterday and the cycle is everlasting.
AN: Any plans for live dates on the back of the album or is that difficult to pull together? I have to admit (my own fault entirely) Aborym is one of the few bands I have never seen live that I really want to.
Not yet We just starting doing rehearsal for the new material with a new line-up, so will need time and hard work.. I hope we will be ready from April.
AN: Outside of music what keeps you busy, what are your interests, any favourite books, films, do you even have time for other activities?
When I have some spare time I try to spend it with my family, travelling or taking some rest at home watching movies, hangin’out with friends. I have lots of dvd movies at home.. I love the Coppola’s Godfather, or stuff from the 80es like Jaws (1 and 2 mainly), old-school horror movies from the 80’s and 90’s, I love the whole David Lynch filmography, Lars von Trier’s movies, the Twin Peaks series, or Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain. Concerning books, one of my favourite writers is Haruki Murakami.
AN: The last thing I said in my review was that Shifting.Negative left me wondering where this ever interesting band will go from here? That seems like good point to go out on.
I just see a toxic environment in the music business and I feel very lucky to be a big fish in a small pond. I don’t have a particular master plan or career plan. I never really have. What’s important is that everything I do be interesting to me and everything I do comes from a totally free approach and attitude and it comes with sincerity.
AN: Anything else you would like to add to our readers?
Many thanks for your time and questions. Expect some Aborym new music in 2017.
(Interview Pete Woods)