Having links with Ex-Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie and British dream pop of A.R.Kane, it comes as little surprise that this album contains some 4AD inspired shoegaze. To their credit,however, the Ukranian/Canadian husband and wife duo assert their individuality by refusing to be tightly bound by narrow genre conventions.
The thirteen songs on this digital package range from funky to folky and blend rock motifs with ethereal ramblings. While the mostly indecipherable vocals are not strong enough to stamp a firm sense of identity on the songs, the energetic dance-friendly rhythms go some way to compensate.
Music, lyrics, vocals and arrangements are democratically credited to both Alexander Kretov and Shauna McLarnon but it feels as though Kretov is the driving force. He produced and mastered the album at their own studio and even designed all the packaging.
A notable exception to this dominance is the single High Day, a touching pop song written by McLarnon to resolve a lovers’ tiff. Kretov reaffirms his authority by taking vocal duties on Lotus and Colors II but his balladry is so wayward that I would respectfully suggest he give more space to his better half in future.
The couple have moved from place to place since leaving the Ukraine and are currently based in Ontario. This is presumably why their third album took a while (over five years) to complete and why there is such a diversity of styles and moods.
There are “reggae infusions” (Otherwise), some swirling Arabesque (Blown), cinematic instrumentals (F-Talking /Galicticon) and what I would call dream noise (Cretu)
If you’re in need of a safe, reassuring listen then look elsewhere but if you’re open to music that follows the heart not the head then Ummagma fit the bill nicely.
Hear ‘Compass’ at Bandcamp