SabaSaba – To drag listeners through the sounds of the record into a dystopian world

Anxious magazine SabaSaba wywiad
Photo: Sophie Anne Herin

I discovered SabaSaba thanks to carefully checking what Maple Death Records is currently releasing. Their comprehensive offer of releases constantly surprises with something, expanding their eclectic musical family. The first album of the Italians completely charmed me. It’s a wonderful combination of quite isolationist textures with dub rhythms evoking abstract ritual music. The next album “Metabasi”, recorded during the lockdown, took us to more experimental and prepared spaces. In February, the next work of the band from Turin, “Unknown city”, will have its premiere.

Michał Majcher

Anxious magazine SabaSaba interview
Photo: Sophie Anne Herin

Michał Majcher: At the beginning of this interview, I must congratulate your new album. As a faithful listener of SabaSaba, you once again surprised me with a different approach to your sounds, remaining within the scope of previously explored music. Did it come about spontaneously or did you have a different intention with creating this album?

SabaSaba: Thank you, we are really happy that you like the new record. With this record we wanted to continue to have a connection with the past but at the same time our intention was to move in other directions and don’t repeat ourselves. We were ready to surprise ourselves and see what direction we would go in.

M.M.: Your last album, “Metabasi” was released in 2020. You made us wait for your new album for quite a long time. How long did the creation process take?

SabaSaba: ”Metabasi” was made during pandemic when we had to stay at home and we couldn’t go to the studio and was made mainly of field recordings made from our balconies. Time later when we were able to go in our room where we rehearsee we started to record some ideas and work from them. It was a slowly process and everything around us was starting to move again but very slowly and even when we had the record ready we had to wait a while before we released it.

M.M.: For me, “Unknown City” is quite a trance-like journey through electronic landscapes, looped sound configurations of big cities, and the deep pulsations of dub. What do you think is the most important thing on this album?

SabaSaba: You used very appropriate words to describe the record and for us the most important thing is the atmosphere we wanted to create, we wanted to drag listeners through the sounds of the record into a dystopian world as if he were inside a science fiction movie. This definitely the most cinematic music we have created so far.

M.M.: The album “Unknown City” was inspired by the novel “The City and the City” by China Miéville. What moved you so much in this book?

SabaSaba: We came across this book accidentally and were intrigued by the story. It was the first book of China Miéville we read and we immediately got into the mood of the book and its plot and we found it very close to everything that is happening in the world, a science fiction not so far from the real world. Reading this book inspired us with future visions of dystopian cities where repression and control are increasing as well as the sense of alienation and loneliness that people experience and we wanted to create music that could    give the listener back those emotions

M.M.: I really liked the terms used to describe your new album. This perfectly reflects the image of this album, perhaps a bit like a soundtrack “to a dystopian city: digital raga, horror Exotica, half-speed techno, metallic dub and organic electronics.” Do you have to listen to a lot of different music? Do you also have any favorite soundtracks?

SabaSaba: Jonathan from Maple Death Records used this words and we really like them and they reflect the many different kind of music we listen. We are very curious and    we are constantly searching for new music from all over the world that can inspire us. We have listened to a lot of soundtracks especially during the last few years    and to name a few we really like the work that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did with David Fincher, the soundtrack composed by Mica Levi for Jonathan Glazer’s movie “Under The Skin” is one of our favorites, Clint Mansell’s score to Ben Wheatley’s “In The Earth”, Bobby Krlic’s soundtrack for Ari Aster’s “Midsommar”, Oliver Coates’s score for “Aftersun” by    Charlotte Wells and the soundtracks by Hildur Guðnadóttir especially the one composed for the miniseries Chernobyl. Along with all this we love all the soundtracks that John Carpenter made for all his movies and they have inspired us a lot.

M.M.: Your first album seems to me to be a combination of mysterious and dark textures taken almost from post-industrial, combined with dub rhythms. “Metabasi” is more of a nod to experiment, abstract electronics, but you also incorporated these deep pulsations. On “Unknown City” we can also listen the dub even more. In fact, this rhythmic structure is the most developed. What does dub mean to you?

SabaSaba: You are right to say that in each of these records the dub is an element somehow always present and of course we love dub music and and we learned a lot about the use of delay and reverb from old dub records but for us the meaning of dub is more an attitude and a personal way of feeling the rhythm that we wanted to develop more in this record.

SabaSaba Anxious Magazine interview
Photo: Sophie Anne Herin

M.M.: You recorded the new album again with Paul Beauchamp (Almagest!, Blind Cave Salamander) in his studio in Turin. Please tell us about your work together.

SabaSaba: After working together on the first record we became friends and it was natural to work together again on this new record. It’s nice and easy for us to work with him because he knows our sound. Paul is also a great live sound engineer and he is behind the mixer when we play live and he really is an important element of our live shows

M.M.: There are also guests on the album, can you tell us about them?

SabaSaba: The guests on the album are Ambra Chiara Michelangeli that played the viola in most of the songs, she is a really great musician and she immediately understood the vibe of the record and gave the songs an extra magic. I suggest you to listen to the record she recently released with her band tellKujira for the label Superpang, it’s great. The other guests on the record are Jerome, the duo of Annalisa Iembo and Stella Mathioudakis, we love them and they are our favorites artists from Maple Death Records and when we thought of vocals for a song we immediately thought of them, working with them was great and we love the way the used the sounds and the voice on the song, they managed to create a post-apocalyptic mantra that was completely in line with the whole album. Jerome have a new record out called Moving and it’s great.

There are also other friends on the album who sent us some vocal files that we reworked, they are Jonathan Clancy, Emily Leon and Francesca Marongiu. All these collaborations are based on friendship and esteem. The same is for Paul Beauchamp that recorded the album and Nick Foglia that mixed it, they are a big part of this record and was very inspiring working with all this, great team.

SabaSaba Anxious Magazine interview
Photo: Sophie Anne Herin

M.M.: Do you already have a vision of what the next SabaSaba material will look like?

SabaSaba: We are already starting to talk about the next SabaSaba record and we want to experiment with even more possibilities and be amazed by what can happen. I think that one of the components of the next record could be the voices, both ours and those of possible guests.

M.M.: What’s new in the sound world of Turin?

SabaSaba: Turin is a city with a lot of great music and musicians and even if we don’t feel like we are part of any music scene, the city exudes a great vital and artistic force. There are very interesting realities especially in the experimental and electronic field, we can mention two labels which are Gang Of Ducks and Details Sound, go to listen to their bandcamp and you can find some good stuff.