Album reviews by Bloopie
Ummagma is the brainchild of Ukrainian multi-instrumentalist Alexx Kretov and Canadian vocalist Shauna McLarnon, a couple who record from their home studio in Ternopil, Ukraine. McLarnon, officially the band manager, is in charge of vocals and writing lyrics, while Kretov plays the variety of instruments as well as doing the mixing, recording and mastering.The duo's debut double album, titled 'Ummagma' and 'Antigravity', is brimming with thought-provoking tracks that touch upon a plethora of emotions through a versatile set of instruments and adventurous mix of genres, such as dreampop, progressive rock, and ambient.
An excerpt from the band's biography reads "a mixture of the ethereal and ambient with sublime resonance, beats and rhythm to create richly layered landscapes", and it accurately captures the essence of Ummagma's debut albums. Tranquil melodies flow effortlessly in the self-titled album 'Ummagma', and I'm immediately surprised that this is the work of inexperienced musicians. A refined and multifaceted musical junket follows with a host of delightfully upbeat songs, and not one seems misplaced or expendable throughout. With a rich use of instruments at the capable hands of Kretov, the album maintains a sense of fluency and rhythm, even as each song has its own distinct character and individuality. 'Risky', 'Rotation' and 'NIMBY' in particular sound like hit singles.While 'Ummagma' is packed with sweet, upbeat tunes, its final numbers 'Talk to Her' and 'J.S. Bach' wrap up an effervescent album on a subdued, mellow note, and that's where 'Antigravity' picks up.
'Antigravity' is a bit darker. Multi-layered, otherworldly sounds create a different kind of aura to the previous album, but it is even more lush with musical influences, and is equally beautiful. Tracks such as 'Micro Macro', 'Back to You', 'Colors' and '1+1=3' further explore the couple's more lugubrious musical side, with memorable downbeat, ghostly melodies. The one thing I found to be reptitive is the use of a fadeout effect; the albums oozes creativity and imagination, yet many tracks end with an anticlimactic fadeout effect that feels disappointingly unpolished in comparison. Ummagma's first time effort is impressive, having released two lovely debut albums in one go. Kretov and McLarnon have shown how well they can blend different genres and create something exceptional independently. Surely there is plenty more to come from this Ukraine-based two-piece.
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