Just imagine yourself on a rowboat in the final moments after the sun has completely set behind a twilight ocean. Someone behind you is doing all the rowing, and all you have to do is look forward and prepare for a meditative boat ride. That’s what Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma did to me when I listened to their latest EP, Frequency. The mood is fanciful and tranquil, coruscating with electronic, dreampop, and rock elements.
“Lama” starts out dreamy and electronic, then pushes through that cloudy atmosphere into a silvery, rock-inspired galaxy. While earlier in the song the ambient texturizing is the focal point, it’s the eventual rock instrumentation that sets an intriguing, exciting mood.
“Winter Tale” features a cherubic choir, with female vocals calling back and forth to one another over steady, humming beat. It’s a bit exotic-sounding, like Eastern meditation music–and then this kind of splitting, surging sound pierces the utopian chorus towards the second half, like a shooting star flying by and almost hitting one of our choir angels in the halo.
Our rowboat has transformed into a gondola on “Ocean Girl.” Now we’re drifting down a narrow, Venetian water alley with tender accordion, subtle tambourine, and an overall gorgeous, romantic instrumentation accompanying the ride.
The three “Lama” remixes underscore the dreampop aspects to the EP: The Robin Guthrie Remix has deep, sensuous bass that accentuates Shauna McLarnon’s airy vocals; the Malcolm Holmes’ OMD Remix includes catchy dance sections; and the Lights That Change Remix builds into an unexpected electronic dance-rock vibe, almost like No Doubt may pop out of nowhere.
However, the best part about Ummagma is that you can never really imagine other artists stopping in for a brief feature. Ummagma is discernibly their own style, and Frequency is their ethereal, shimmering lovechild, born for the dreamers and built out of moon rock DNA.–Rachel Haney