UMMAGMA – LAMA (Emerald & Doreen Recordings – 2014)
di Marina Montesano
Duo canadese/ucraino (rispettivamente Shauna e Alexx: ma altre notizie potete trarle dall’intervista sottostante), gli Ummagma propongono con Lama un esperimento interessante: prendere una canzone da un loro disco precedente e affidarla ad altri musicisti/produttori affinché ne facciano un remix, ne diano la loro personale rilettura. In un certo senso, insomma, si tratta di un disco collettivo che mette in luce esperienze musicali che escono dalla geografia per noi più consueta (quella anglo-americana) per spaziare tra la Russia, il Brasile, la Germania e, perché no, anche l’Italia (ben rappresentata da Irregular Disco Workers e Alexander Robotnick). Se la musica degli Ummagma guarda al genere shoegaze/dream pop, non tutti quelli coinvolti nel progetto Lama appartengono al medesimo settore, il che consente al disco una bella varietà nella quale ciascuno potrà trovare maggiore consonanza con l’una o l’altra interpretazione. Insomma giudizio positivo, in attesa della prossima prova degli Ummagma che, come leggerete nell’intervista, non è lontana.
Interview with Shauna McLarnon
Where are you from and what is your musical background?
First of all, Ummagma is Alexander Kretov and me, Shauna McLarnon. I am from northern Canada – from a place called the Yukon – you will likely only know about it if you have read Jack London or if you are fascinated with Canadian geography or Alaska. Alexx is from a really quaint town in western Ukraine, called Kremenets. Right now we live part-time there and part-time in another nearby city called Ternopil. Alexx studied music since elementary school but picked up the guitar around the age of 14 and, to this day, it is still his instrument of choice. I began singing when I was 26 and then started to compose music a year later. We began jamming with each other within a few days of meeting in Moscow and this experiment seems to have worked.
Lama is your first LP release. Why many remixes of the same song (even if it does not sound the same)?
Actually ‘Lama’ is not our first release – it’s just really hard to get our work heard as an indie band running exclusively on our own steam, so to speak. We released two albums (Antigravity and Ummagma) at the same time in July 2012. Then, in 2013, we released a split EP, together with a Finnish band called Virta, on Som Non-Label, and then a double A-side single on Germany’s Emerald & Doreen Records in December. ‘Lama’ is a track from our Antigravity album and it has done really well – It’s been in various charts in Scotland and NYC and has been remixed by Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and Malcolm Holmes (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), but we won’t release those ones until we can get them on vinyl later this summer. In the meantime, we released the ‘Lama’ LP on Emerald & Doreen with a serious of other remixes – all in different genres, created by different artists from different countries. All of this diversity has made this a very interesting project for us.
Any favourite version, one that you are happier about?
We are really happy with all of the remixes actually – it’s even hard to compare them against each other because they are all done in different genres. We’ve got two epic producers from Italy involved in this project – Irregular Disco Workers and Alexander Robotnick (a.k.a. Maurizio Dami), who is, as you know, a living legend insofar as new wave disco and electronica go. We were ecstatic when we learned they would be involved and I also really wanted Copycat and Theatre of Delays involved, so I’m really glad that our label was able to organize that. They are among the best remixers I have heard, and so I totally wanted them on board.
In this album, we also included remixes by two producers we have been long-time friends with – Mind Movies (a.k.a. Raoni Santos) from Brazil and Sounds of Sputnik (a.k.a. Roman Kalitkin) from Moscow – and we had them remix this track even before we knew where they would be released. Thank goodness – they do brilliant work and we have continued to work with them since then too – Ummagma is even going to release a full-length LP with Sounds of Sputnik this summer. But the remix that surprised me the most was the one by Go Nogo from Germany – this remix has so many different elements and twists in there, derived from sources unknown – really kind of a sonic UFO-type experience for non-believers, where they finally come around after the first experience. That’s what it was like for us, because we really never got into the genre of music they play until we had heard this remix. Big eye opener for us. I guess that is the whole point of letting people reinterpret your music in many different styles – to push your own boundaries and allow both you and your listeners to discover new great sounds and artists.
Are you going to tour to support it? and how?
No, we’re not planning to tour – it is a remix-based album, so there’s not much sense in arranging a tour to support this particular release. We would rather be spending time in the studio, preparing material for our next album and for a side project as well (Sounds of Sputnik). We are only two people and we do everything ourselves – composing, performing, recording, mixing, mastering, video production, and promotion – so it seems we have to be really careful about how we allocate our time. Right now, it just doesn’t seem to make sense for us to tour.
Bands you dig from the current scene?
Oh my goodness, there are so many and we enjoy so many different genres. Let’s start with some bands from the UK – I really love Lights That Change (ethereal wave, dreampop) and Strata Florida (shoegaze, indie rock), both of whom are from Wales. We really like the new EPs by Wozniak (shoegaze) and Carnival Star (goth, post-punk, darkwave) and they are both from Scotland. From Italy there are a few that I really enjoy – Stella Diana, RevRevRev, Human Colonies, Claudio Cataldi, Novanta. From Iberia, there is Joaquim Barato and Sexores. Fantastic music. From Japan, you should hear Haioka (a.k.a. Haioka Shintaro) – he’s fantastic. From Russia, our favourites are Sounds of Sputnik, Aerofall and Glaswen, and I also like the Britpop style of Mendream. We appreciate a number of bands from the Nordic countries too – Follow The Sea, Sleepyard, Spökraket and especially Flying Cape Experience. They are just fantastic and I recommend having a listen. Likewise for Robsongs, The Sorry Shop and Bela Infanta (all three are from Brazil), as well as Jane Woodman, Presents for Sally, The Stargazer Lilies, Drowner, Shana Falana and Her Vanished Grace (they are not from Brazil). There are so many bands, really, and I didn’t even touch on the bands that Alexx is into. I also can’t leave out Robin Guthrie and David Sylvian because, of course, they are not only current – they are eternal.
What are your plans for the near future?
There are many releases coming from Ummagma this year still, so studio work is the main thing for us right now. In July, we’ll have a new LP on Emerald & Doreen Records. We’ll issue a bunch of new tracks, as well as the remixes by Robin Guthrie and Malcolm Holmes on the next Ummagma LP, as well as the debut LP by Sounds of Sputnik (featuring Ummagma) – that will all happen on Ear to Ear Records (UK). Of course, that also means a whole range of new videos too. Plus we’ve been mixing, mastering and remixing other bands and likely that will continue. Should be very exciting. We’re already looking forward to the next chapter in our book…
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Ummagma – Lama