Today’s Cool ‘Album’ of the Day (#906 in the Series) is Ummagma “Rotation” b/w “Live and Let Die.”
To paraphrase the bio on their website, Ummagma is a Canadian-Ukranian duo comprised of Alexander Kretov and Shauna McLarnon. They deliver an eclectic yet harmonious kaleidoscope of dream pop, post-punk, ambient/ethereal, shoegaze and spacerock, creating sublime resonance, beats and rhythm to create other worldly soundscapes.
Truthfully, it would be hard for me to describe them any more clearly than that.
If you are a fan of shoegaze (Lush, My Bloody Valentine), dream pop (Air, Chvrches, The Cranberries), or space rock (Pink Floyd, The Verve) then in all likelihood this is a band you should give a listen to.
More specifically, as a primer check out the double A-side single “Rotation/Live and Let Die” on Emerald & Doreen Recordings released n December 9, 2013. This is a teaser for an almost unfathomable 4-5 releases (4 LPs, 1 EP, vinyl 7’) to be released throughout 2014.
The critically acclaimed “Rotation” is a wall of sound, an onslaught to the auditory senses. The sheer multitude of instruments utilized, layered and overdubbed is astounding considering there is just two of them and they lay down all the instrumentals themselves.
According to their bio, Alexx handles composition, all instruments, arrangement and vocals, as well as recording mixing, mastering and video production. Shauna deals with vocals, composition, lyrics and band management.
“Rotation” is reminiscent of some of the more abstract Sugarcubes songs such as “Birthday” in that Shauna’s voice is beautiful yet somewhat unintelligible, adding to the imagination laden feel to the track. This is also why, when referenced, The Cocteau Twins is a band that frequently comes up when asked for comparisons.
Musically I liken this track to some of the singles off my favorite Lush Album Spooky. The listener is awash in sound complemented by the ethereal vocals which makes for a truly immersive musical experience. However, “Rotation” deviates from being a fundamental shoegaze song through its’ layering and usage of multiple synths rather than guitars which still gives the sound a dissonance and resonance that both Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain would be proud of.
“Live and Let Die” has a frenetic big band type percussion intro, this time with plenty of layered jangle pop guitars but is more abrasive than your typical dream pop offering. Once again, the listener is awash in lustrous sounds but this track hits you like a thunderstorm as the mood goes from hopeful to tragic to wistful. It underscores the beauty of McLaron’s voice-not the other way around.
The videos to both singles are also quite enjoyable and effective at underscoring the sounds and are a nice surprise considering this is an art form that I love but has gone the way of the buffalo with the longtime demise of MTV.
The video for “Rotation” consists of a furry car driving in a pastoral setting and upon collision we are greeted to a barrage of light and color and to different stunning images from imaginably one’s subconscious.
The “Live and Let Die” visual interpretation is quite simple with a psychedelic feel as butterflies overlay colorful chimneys of billowing industrial smoke, highlighting the conflicting nature of the song itself.
Both “Rotation” and “Live and Let Die” as well as the songs off their two album debut release (Ummagma, Antigravity) can be found online at their bandcamp site. You can find it here.
— Clint Corey, Arizona USA
- Alexander Kretov – all instruments, vocals, composition, arrangement.
- Shauna McLarnon – lyrics, vocals, arrangement.
- Roman Kalitkin (Moscow) – guitar on “Live and Let Die.”
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS AT: