Photograph by Eugenio Crippa
I love bands who have the self-assurance and presence of mind to produce a clear, concise and informative website, Giöbia are one such band…
“Giöbia has been one of the most influential psychedelic bands in Italy over the last years. Seduced by the lysergic side of the ‘60s, by exotic mantras and the evocative power of space-rock, Giöbia is a band from Milano, Italy with many facets and one only faith, that is to turn every encounter with sound into a psychedelic experience”.
You can imagine then, my embarrassment at not having heard of them prior to a recent jaunt to Milan to see The Gluts supporting White Hills. It was on this 24-hour adventure that I had the good fortune of meeting Giöbia, along with their supporting cast, and of finding an introduction to prior LP releases, 2013’s ‘Introducing Night Sound’, which I was fortunate to procure on orange vinyl and 2010’s ‘Hard Stories’, a CD gift from Bazu himself.
Giöbia’s website describes their latest vinyl offering, ‘Magnifier’, as follows, “The sound of the new album will be heavier and darker than the past records, but always unique, and at some moments will reveal the intimate bond that we’ve always had with the 70’s Italian progressive”.
The band comprises, Bazu (vocals and string instruments), Saffo (organ, violin, vocals), Detrji (bass) and Betta (drums).
The gorgeously hypnotic artwork for ‘Magnifier’ is by artist Laura Giardino, allegedly conjured “by scratching the twilight zone out of your grandma’s wallpaper”. Laura is also credited here with lyrics to three of the seven tracks on ‘Magnifier’.
‘Magnifier’ kicks off with, ‘This world was being watched closely’ – pretty much anyone using Orson Welles’ commanding voice sample, from his infamous 1938 ‘War Of The Worlds’ radio broadcast is guaranteed to put the hook in me! ‘This world…’ is a pulsating Sci-Fi trek with Fremen inspired Arabic undertows, a skipping, whirling motorik oasis amidst the desiccated spice mélange; ‘The Pond’, invokes unfathomable acidic depths, whimsical whispers of melancholia, suffused with ecstasy; ‘The Stain’, has me picturing a strung-out west coast Sabbath, at the zenith of their wasted excess, topped off with Tull-like keyboard flourishes; ‘Lentamente la luce svanirà’, (‘Slowly The Light Will Fade’), rumbles into view with it’s drum and bass intro, before spiralling outwards in a spatial, transmutation synth odyssey; Side two gets underway with, ‘Devil’s Howl’, a bruising tritone-ic sacrament, it’s distended vocals alluding to vertiginous diabolical vestiges; ‘Sun Spectre’, clocks in at 15 minutes and is an astrally amplified, tripped-out, resonating radiance, a Magellanic ghost-ship, soaring on solar trade winds; Album closer, ‘The Magnifier’ is a helter-skeltering, spiralling Syd Barrett-like, inner spatial introspective, a fitting crescendo finale.
‘Magnifier’ showcases Giöbia in full control of their richly textured sonic bombast, an LP awash with confident arrangements in perfect accomplished measure.
I caught up with the band and asked them a few questions;
Chr – Tell me where the name Giobia came from?
Giö – Giöbia – comes from an ancient pre-christian festivity celebrated in Northern Italy when a big straw puppet resembling a witch is burnt as a propitiatory ritual towards the forces of nature. We were in a public park in Milan (Park of the Basilicas) and we were discussing what name to choose for the band …we picked up the name from a book a friend of ours had with him, that among other legends told the story of this Giöbia. The curious thing is that in this park in the middle of 1600 , there was the last burning of witches in Milan.
Chr – How do you guys know each other and when did you get together?
Giö – Bazu (guitar and vocals) and Betta (drums) have known each other since very young in school. The band (which initially was also composed by a flutist and a bassist) took turns with many musicians, until arriving in 2006 at the current band that includes Paolo Detrji (bass) and Saffo (organ and violin).
Chr – Can you share your introductions to, and evolution in musical tastes?
Giö – Bazu : I started like many in adolescence to listen to and play Metal … I got as a gift many different kinds of vinyl and a 12-string guitar and I immediately got involved … from then on I continued to listen to music and different musical genres . The psychedelic rock of the 70s, the garage of the 60s and the Progressive of Gong undoubtedly influenced the band more than anything else.
Chr – Tell me how you got involved with Sulatron Records?
Giö – We liked the bands on Sulatron Records, especially Electric Moon , and we were convinced that it’s the perfect label for our sound … In 2013 we had just finished recording “Introducing Night Sound ” and we sent the tracks to Dave Schmidt… and fortunately he liked it!
Chr – Did you start out with a specific theme or impetus for ‘Magnifier’?
Giö – We didn’ t start out with a single theme, we created ‘Magnifier’ with the intent to give each song its own atmosphere and soul. The album was realised in two different sessions of composition and recording. We composed, first like a dozen songs with a very direct and instinctive approach. During the first recording session we also recorded the 15-minute improvisation, ‘Sun Spectre’. Much of the work was done in the second phase of recording and mixing to find the sound that we had in mind. We wanted for this album to achieve a sound more heavy and dark compared to our previous work.
Chr – Is your developmental process harmonious and democratic?
Giö – Harmonious not too much…but yes democratic!
Chr – First and last records bought?
Giö – Bazu: The first, I’m sure it was a metal album but cannot remember which. The last vinyl I bought is ‘Grave New World’ by Discharge.
Paolo: The first I bought I think was something of the Charlatans, the last by Black Mountain.
Saffo: The first record I think was ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe… I was a little girl but already in love with Joey Tempest! The last record is a double vinyl, ‘Wheels of Fire’ by Cream, although unfortunately the “nice” seller who promised to hold it for me also left with my purchase!
Betta: first album was a Bruce Springsteen cassettae but I do not remember which. Latest album, it’s not the last I bought but it’s a gift from a friend; a double live LP of Gong at the BBC recorded in 74.… I had completely forgotten I had it, therefore for me it’s as if I just bought it!
Chr – Upcoming shows?
Giö – In September we are back in Europe with a new tour and also will take part in some interesting festivals like Copenhagen Psych Fest and Incubate Festival.
Chr – Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule, I have been keeping an eye on the Incubate Festival myself, the lineup this year looks fantastic! All the very best with the record release and for the upcoming shows.
‘Magnifier’ is released on September 09th through Sulatron Records.
Great interview ! Really liking this bands sound and spirit, and hopefully we’ll see them in the UK at some point. Also thanks for the links to the videos, some great music coming out of Italy right now, so jealous that you got to see The Gluts live !
I think for the true meaning of “trickle down effect”, you only have to look at the fact that whilst the rest of the world was watching ‘Live And Let Die’ in 1973 – Italy was watching ‘The Holy Mountain’!
There is an iceberg of musical talent in Italy right now – Giöbia and The Gluts are just the tip of this Renaissance…