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Compass by Ummagma (Leonard Skully Records)

Compass by Ummagma (Leonard Skully Records)

Compass by Ummagma (Leonard Skully Records)

From the opening seconds of Canadian duo Ummagma’s new album Compass you realize you’re being taken on an adventure. Rolling begins with a picked string instrument, hand drums and percussion roll in, with handclaps and grooving bass and guitar then Alexandar Kretov’s breathless vocals invite you to dance. The parts may not be so familiar but the end result is. Caravan follows, with big drums and a whistle cutting through the noise. Shauna McLarnon’s alluring voice enters the mix as the rhythm gets sexy, Alexander’s raspy vocals a counterpart to Shauna’s.

LCD sounds like it could be a straightforward midtempo dance track, but Ummagma confuse your senses with layered wordless vocals, a twisty groove and electronic blips and bloobles over the drums. I enjoy the picture of people dancing to this track.

Elizabeth 44 is another song that could be a straightforward dream pop song but for the quirky rhythms and guitar and bass parts muscling their way into Shauna’s lovely vocals.

Blown opens with an acoustic guitar line reminiscent of Space Oddity, before becoming part of a synth-spiked sensual groove with Shauna’s inviting vocals.

Lotus has a classic sound to it with Alexandar’s comforting vocals accompanied by jangling guitar, synth washes and a slowly grooving beat. Ummagma at their most accessible.

On Compass, Ummagma bring their idiosyncratic approach to music, proving that you can be different yet still accessible. And the feeling of love throughout the songs is a testament to the bond between the married couple.

Ummagma’s Compass is now available on vinyl, CD and digital at:

(Review by Bret Miller )

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