How much more fitting could it be for a love affair to blossom at an outdoor acoustic guitar concert between two musicians? Comprised of Alexander Kretov and Shauna McLarnon, Ummagma is a dynamic Canadian-Ukrainian duo, founded in Moscow in 2003, where Kretov and McLarnon met coincidentally at an acoustic concert.
The relationship between the two musicians blossomed into a love affair—of the romantic and musical variety. The couple fused Shauna’s vocal, composition, and lyrical abilities with Alexx’s instrumental, arrangement, and vocal talents, along with his ability to record, mix and master music. The pair eventually set up a home studio in Moscow, which they relocated to Kiev in 2004 during the Orange Revolution. Now residing in western Ukraine, the duo continues to upgrade and hone their musical and recording skills, while also recording and producing other artists’ work.
Ummagma’s hard work and talent has not been put in the back-burner though, and they recently claimed victory by winning Alternative Eurovision from amongst 21 countries for their futuristic track “1+1=3.” The track is solely instrumental and is layers upon layers of distorted, crackling synth that is reminiscent of a sci-fi film or the music one would assume to hear on the moon. Underneath this haunting ménage of synth, a poignant melody is plucked out and rounds out the overall eerie, otherworldly sound of the duo’s winning creation.
Even more recently, Ummagma, in combination with Finnish trio Virta, released their latest EP, Split EP. The album is comprised of two songs from each band and has been released by Italy’s Som Non-Label. Ummagma’s contribution consists of “Back to You” and “River Town,” two songs that diverge slightly from the band’s typical tendency to fall into dream-pop and shoegaze genres, now leaning more towards a folk-rock sound. Fans need not to worry though – the band’s signature sound is still maintained, but with a bit of a twist this time.
“Back to You,” is the third track on the album and is the first track of Ummagma’s. The track begins with the presence of a musical saw, giving the song an initial Western-shoot-off vibe – a theme that continues throughout the entire length of the song. The distortion and guitars used in the track are reminiscent of Pink Floyd, and with the addition of Alexx’s vocals, a classic rock atmosphere is created and maintained. Shauna’s dreamy, ambient vocals are also showcased in “Back to You,” adding another layer of wistfulness to an already trance-like song. The song is dreamy, and has a hazy quality to it that has a definite appeal.
“River Town,” on the other hand, has more of a folk-rock sound to it and is devoid of any synth or electronic instruments. An acoustic guitar, musical saw, and some percussion accompanies Shauna’s haunting voice, which floats lightly over the instrumental accompaniment. The effect is delicate, nostalgic, and romantic. The two tracks Ummagma contributes to Split EP are complimentary. They’re light and airy, but at the same time very earthy and grounded. What Ummagma does is hard to do, and only few can master the delicate balance between genres and sounds the way Kretov and McLarnon can.
Ummagma’s contribution to Split EP is moving, wistful and evocative, and it is no surprise that out of 21 countries, this pair was crowned a winner. Already being heard on radio stations in over 30 countries, Ummagma has earned their wings, and is bound to fly far.