Sunday, 2 February 2014

Track Review: Ummagma - Live and Let Die / Rotation

Dream pop - the genre dreams are made of. It can be hard to create dream pop recordings, but it's even harder to write songs to go with them. Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma have the nail already in the coffin, but they seem to be short on nails at the time being - we're here to sell them their D.I.Y capabilities, and steer them in the right direction to the space station of dream pop's past, and how the future can be effected right now. 

Ummagma are already well established in the dream pop community, they've released two studio albums, albeit on the same day.  They're signed to a record label who will be releasing their third album in 2014, and have severe potential for when it comes to effects, soundscapes, and lyricism. The two tracks we're going to be listening to today are "Live and Let Die", and "Rotation".

The former, as heard above, is more shoegaze than dream pop. It takes a dominant percussion opening to force the track in motion, with vocals trailing in a close second. Then it's the guitars which make a fuss - layered as expected, drowned in noise as expected. But "Live and Let Die" never really feels like a complete recording. It's 3/4 the way there, but there’s something about the way all this noise is put together that takes away the essence of the genre, and my emotions towards it. The beauty of it seems lost in clusters of sound which should all come together with ease. Loud, yes, but it should be in a melodic way rather than an abrasive way.

The latter, "Rotation", is what we're really here for. Instead of the abrasive percussion opening like My Bloody Valentine's recent album m b v, Ummagma opt for a slightly withdrawn song. This time there's a slower percussion found on albums like Souvlaki, with raw features, but repetitiveness which goes a long way in this sound - and Ummagma's. The synthesizers are a real highlight on "Rotation", they grow with volume over the course of the song, before the guitars enter and fill in all the gaps. This is the sort of material Ummagma can release on a monthly basis, neat, clean music with one foot firmly placed in dream pop, and the other inside the noise door. My only gripe with "Rotation" is the fade out. I'm a long term hater of extended fade outs, but I'm more accepting to having them in slower, more melody reliant recordings such as "Rotation". This doesn't stop me from believing Ummagma could do better with just a single guitar note play out and a sudden cut from the amp. Regardless of this, Ummagma have shown their skill, and can easily become a dream pop / shoegaze name to look out for in the future on Emerald & Doreen Recordings. 
~Eddie Gibson

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