Thursday, 12 March 2015

Review: Sounds of Sputnik – New Born feat. Ummagma

When I first heard that two powerhouses of the Underground Post Rock, Electronic Shoegazing & Dreampop scene were collaborating on an album, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. In fact, I was overjoyed! After all, it is a musical match made in heaven in my opinion. I was surprised, though, to read that it was going to be Sound of Sputnik’s (a.k.a. Roma Kalitkin) debut album, because I’d been listening to Sound Of Sputnik for a long time, playing them on my Radio Show for Primal Radio and previously for Radio Aktiv, and up until now, foolishly thinking that they had a back catalogue of albums to peruse at my leisure. Boy was I wrong!

Moscow-based Sounds Of Sputnik is the brainchild of Roma Kalitkin, a close collaborator of UMMAGMA, influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Ride & Sonic Youth but with a style closer to Mogwai or Air Formation. What I had been listening to, were stunning soundscapes written as a group of tracks but never actually released as an album! I’m talking about Electronic, Post Rock, Shoegazing Soundscapes like Astronomical Summer, Adaptation, The Mission & Motoroller!

It was then, that I had one of those ‘light bulb lighting up over head moments’, I got giddy, and I simply had to hear what these two bands could conjure up together musically! So, when I received my copy of the album to review, what I found was a musical masterpiece!

Yes, the trademark  Sounds Of Sputnik post-rock shoegazing soundscapes are still there, but there is an added injection of something rather special. Really, really special. You see, to me, I’m amazed at how a collection of musicians, fixed on the same trajectory with the same drive and abilities, can create brilliant musical ideas and get the best results imaginable, in the harshest of atmospheres! You see, ‘New Born’ is groundbreaking on many levels musically, but it’s the fact that Roma Kalitkin, Alexx Kretov and Shauna McLarnon managed not only to initiate this project, but co-write and record it, under what must be a whirlwind of unpredictable political turmoil in Kretov’s home country of Ukraine. That’s the most amazing thing! And collectively they don’t disappoint!

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past twelve months you would have read or heard about Ummagma, the Canadian / Ukrainian Electronic, Dreampop duo of Shauna McLarnon and Alexx Kretov and their stunning albums UMMAGMA, Antigravity and more recently the Lama Remixes LP, on which Sounds Of Sputnik created a remix of Lama, another epic Ummagma track! What Ummagma bring to this collaboration is the vision of vocalist, producer/musician Alexx Kretov and the absolutely stunningly beautiful vocal abilities of Shauna McLarnon. Mixing melodic Dreampop with Electronic Shoegaze, they add their life’s blood to this record and you can hear it in every track they feature on! From the blistering lead track ‘New Born’, with Shauna McLarnon on vocals, through to the brilliant Dreampop/Shoegaze laden ‘Light Scheme’ featuring Kretov & McLarnon on duel vocals and on into the epic Sounds Of Sputnik’s - Post Rock, Gaze Heavy ‘Blizzard’  & ‘Shades Of The Cosmos’, this album plays effortlessly from track to track!  Add onto the playlist the pulsating, thundering ‘Overdrive’, featuring none other than Graham Bonnar (ex  Swervedriver/Brian Jonestown Massacre ) on Drums & McLarnon on vocals, and what we have is a must have album for anyone who adores everything good about the Electronic, Post Rock, Dreampop & Shoegazing genre’s, without the frills! Put simply, this is Epic!

Sounds Of Sputnik feat. Ummagma – ‘New Born’,  also feature’s remixes of both ‘New Born’ & ‘Light Scheme’ by Malcolm Holmes of legendary Synthpop group OMD, Oleg Mezherovsky & Morozov, Sounds Of Sputnik himself & Brazil’s Mind Movies! The album will be released on August 25th through the UK based ‘Ear To Ear Records’ and you can still pre order it through both the label, Ear To Ear Records & Sounds Of Sputnik’s Bandcamp pages respectively!

Del Chaney, Dublin, Ireland

(Previously published on the Primal Music Blog. Reproduced here with permission) 

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