Ummagma are a little bit of an unconventional group – a sort of dreampop/shoegaze hybrid, consisting of just Shauna McLarnon from Canada and Alexx Kretov from Ukraine. McLarnon handles the lyrics and vocals, while Kretov tackles all of the instrumentation. The duo has released a single, containing “Rotation” and “Live and Let Die.” Both songs properly showcase their crossover sound in some memorable and easily listenable dreampop.
“Rotation” is a slow-building song. It starts with a low-key drum and synth beat, that kicks up around 35 seconds in. It’s centered around a repetitive synth beat, that seeps the song into a serious dreampop feel. McLarnon’s vocals sound swooping inside of a very condensed sound. The song’s medium energy and consistently full sound lend to a shoegaze resemblance, even if the guitar is only a slight factor. “Rotation” is ultimately the cross between dreampop and shoegaze, and it does both very well.
“Live and Let Die” is a much catchier song. It opens with a drum beat that’s already louder than the previous song’s peak. The song continues with the condensed, shoegaze type sound, but it features a guitar rhythm that’s much more resembling of a garage rock band. A heavier guitar presence lends to a dreamy sound, just one that’s more alt-based instead of pop. “Live and Let Die”s moderate tempo and medium volume acts as a compromise between dreampop and post-rock, and sounds familiar even though it really isn’t.
This is a very solid single, and a nice tease at anything the band might be working on. There seems to be a little something the songs are missing, just to pump up a little energy. But both songs are intricate and unique, combining a number of influences into an aura that sounds conventional until you really listen. They’re very easy songs to enjoy, dense without being unbreakable. Ummagma are doing their own thing; combining genres and doing it well. “Rotation / Live and Let Die” brings hope for whatever the band might release in the future.
The two songs are available for download and streaming here.
-By Andrew McNally