Ukrainian/Canadian act Ummagma create fifteen minutes of retro dream-pop with their new EP ‘Frequency’. Some EPs, when you first hear them, make you think of your current surroundings and how they fit into this world, but with Frequency, there is more of a nod to the past – so much so that you have to remind yourself that this is a new EP, and you could not have ever heard it before.
‘Lama’ sounds like Sarah Cracknell or Beth Orton guesting on an ethereal Underworld track. The rippling melody carries the track along, while the vocals float delicately atop it all. The instrumental sections, especially the break, showcase Ummagma’s ability to convey feeling and emotion without saying a word. Orion sounds like the title suggests. No not a clapped out car from the 90s, but celestial and majestic, and never losing sight of the song itself. By the end you’re captivated and looking forward to what’s the come.
‘Galacticon’ sounds like Vangelis circa 1976. The synths stalk broodily over everything, casting long mournful shadows over a stark, but strangely inviting landscape. It’s the stand out track on the EP. ‘Winter’s Tale’ carries on the motif’s laid down in the opening two tracks. Minimal beats give way to a galaxy of delayed vocals and woozy synths. While there is nothing tangible to grab hold of, this is fine as the vocals are the main event here. Sounding somewhere between a Grecian siren and a femme fatale in a film noir, they pull you up then bring you down again all through effortless control. Meanwhile ‘Ocean Girl’ sounds like a mixture of Eric Serra and Gabriel Yared. There is something very French about it, but you can’t really put your finger on what makes it so. Maybe it’s the faux accordion and swirling synths conjuring up Parisian streets, or quaint mountain villages, but you can almost smell the Gauloises in the air.
While the Frequency EP is dripping in 1990’s sounds and charm it is a rewarding EP. The more you listen to more you pick up in the deft composition and production. Light flourishes add shading here, vivid shakes there add texture and evocative hue adds a deep emotive vibe. Ummagma have re-interpreted dream pop welding 1990’s indie references to their own visions. So, Saint Etienne rub covers with The Orb, while Vangelis looks on from the control room and smiles.
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