Ummagma: Frequency (Moon Sounds Records, 2015)
Ummagma are masters of exquisitely gorgeous, shimmering, dripping and floating dreampop. And though they have been releasing deliciously beautiful music since 2012’s “Antigravity,” and making it years before that even, those lush and ethereal attributes are expertly wielded on their “Frequency” E.P. Despite the fact that it was released in 2015, it is this reviewer’s conviction that great music has no expiration.
“Orion” acts as exposition, setting the scene for what’s to come via droplet synth sounds, pad swells, romantic walking guitar lines and, of course, Shauna McLarnon‘s inviting and warm voice. A nocturnal and sultry mood is exuded by the song, which is almost reminiscent of a Kate Bush arrangement at her most sultry. and just like that the prelude ends and we find ourselves on chapter one.
Majestic, slowly building and then brilliantly rocking in the most blissful way, “Lama” seamlessly blends electronic elements with a rollicking guitar and a driving beat, weaving a hypnotic blend. There is a subtle hint of self-reproach juxtaposed with a daydream quality that is analogous to the lightly scolding mother and the idle cloud watching a child who never learns a lesson. Or perhaps that’s just me.
“Winter Tale” comes drifting along with an exhaled breath and proceeds to take the listener sailing on a ever expansive cloudbound voyage. Sweetly wistful, hauntingly a serial, reassuring light and longing all at the same time, this is a mantra of a song of a song that plays as if it is without end or without need of a middle. It is impelled by billowy vapor like vocals that are sweet, but not saccharine.
“Galacticon” is a moody slice of ambiance that further reinforces the dreamy and wistfully reflective nature of the EP. Stripped bare to just a dramatic pad and manipulated field recording samples, the track wallows in its thick and murky sound. “Ocean Girl,” on the other hand, with its gently thrummed guitar and exotic melodica lines is reminiscent of that Bittersweet final lover’s kiss.
There are some great remixes of “Lama” that follow, including mixes from Lights That Change and Robin Guthrie. all in all, this is an exquisitely sweet and lately somber fruit of an album. Essential listening.
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