Oureboros is a collaborative project between Rich Oddie (Orphx, O/H, Eschaton) and Aron West (Tropism, founding member of Orphx) that combines electroacoustic soundscapes with elements of industrial, black metal and shoegaze. All recordings are improvised direct to tape, with minimal overdubs. They recently released their sophomore album Mysterium Tremendum through Ant Zen.
To get this started, what is Oureboros and what brought you guys together to do the project?
We have been making music together for over two decades. We first began working together in 1993 and those early jams developed into the Orphx project, in collaboration with Christina Sealey. At this time we started a label called Xcreteria which released tapes from Orphx and related acts, including Aron’s Tropism project. We also distributed music from other artists. By 1996, Aron was no longer working with Orphx but he has supported their work in many ways while continuing to produce experimental music as Tropism. The two of us have continued to make music together over the years and some of this collaborative material has been released as Tropism. In 2006, we recorded many hours of new music that we felt was quite strong and had a new sound to it. So we decided to start a new project and this was Oureboros.
The first album, “Dreaming In Earth, Dissolving In Light” came out in 2011. Firstly, I love that title; what does it mean to you guys? Secondly, what were your influences and goals for this album?
That title just came to us. We made those early recordings just after the death of Rich’s stepfather, and the titles refer to themes of mortality and resurrection. That album was created from two evenings of improvised recordings. There was little discussion beforehand. We just made the music and then realized that something new and cohesive was taking shape.
5 years later we see the release of the new album “Mysterium Tremendum”. What brought you guys back together to work on Oureboros again?
We’ve continued to record new music since the first album and gathered together some of our favourite pieces for this record. Rich had also recorded some music in Scotland in 2010 with his friend Norman Shaw that seemed to perfectly with Oureboros, so we also used some of this material. All three of us then helped shape the final tracks, adding some additional sounds here and there. Paul Hogeterp, who played violin on one of the tracks from the first album, also joined us again for two songs on this one.
What were your influences and goals for the new album, and how have things changed since you worked on the first album?
Firstly, this was a more collaborative album because Norman’s contributions became vital to the record, both sonically and visually, along with Paul Hogeterp’s beautiful work on violin and lap steel guitar. Our industrial and doom metal influences are more prominent on this album, and there is a stronger emphasis on percussion and a wider range of instruments.
One thing I’ve especially admired about your work is your ability to create incredibly hypnotic, captivating soundscapes. What draws you to this type of sound, and what’s the typical sound creation process like for you?
As mentioned before, all of our work is improvised and then edited down into finished compositions. We’ve always been drawn to hypnotic music, although we do have different tastes. A strong feature of the project is Aron’s software-based improvisations, which create dynamic, continually modulating soundscapes that are the basis for many of our songs.
The new album utilizes heavy, distorted guitars quite a bit, often veering into doom/sludge territory. What was the inspiration for this and what do you feel the guitar adds to the music?
Much of our music is made with Aron on software and Rich on guitar. All of us take a lot of influence from doom and black metal that is evident on this record. With this project we’re trying to combine those influences with elements of shoegaze, ambient, and electro-acoustic music. Much of the metal and shoegaze influences are expressed by the guitar, while the software brings a more alien, electro-acoustic sound.
According to the project’s bio: “All recordings are improvised direct to tape, with minimal overdubs.”, Is this still true of the new album? How do you feel about working in this kind of “stream of consciousness” manner? Do you find it limiting or liberating?
Oureboros and virtually every project that we are involved in is based on improvisation. We really enjoy this approach because you can lose yourself in the music and it often produces unexpected results.
I really like the artwork on the album. What can you tell us it about it and how it represents/reflects the music?
Norman Shaw is also a visual artist and the cover art is taken from one of his paintings. Norman’s work is deeply connected to the psycho-geography of the Scottish Highlands: its natural and unnatural histories, mythologies, and mysticisms. This painting, “Gods of the Flaming Dew”, was the perfect fit for this record, which came together around the theme of mystical experiences that characterized by a sense of dread or terror. This theme was based on experiences that all of us have had, at different places and times.
Tell us a bit about your studio – what gear are you guys using for this project?
As mentioned earlier, our basic setup is Aron on software and controllers, and Rich on guitar and effects. We also use an assortment of analog synths and whatever else is on hand. On the new album, we used a wider assortment of instruments and sound sources, including acoustic drums, feedback circuits, and saxophone.
I believe I saw that you are playing live with this project. What can the audience expect from an Oureboros show and how does it differ from your more techno oriented projects like Orphx?
We’ve only performed as Oureboros a handful of times so far. We also take an improvised approach to live performance, using studio material as a starting point and foundation. It is considerably more meditative than an Orphx performance or at least functions in a different way by focusing more on immersive soundscapes rather than foregrounding rhythms. We really enjoy playing in spaces that are conducive to that kind of immersion in sound. Of the few shows we’ve done, half have taken place in churches.
While it’s probably too early to tell, do you have any future plans for Oureboros?
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