This Ummagma article was written by Ian Bourne, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Jones
Some of the best songs have hooks made up of “do do do”, and ‘Lama’ is no exception and bursts into life when the guitar screeches in. Amid the serial drum breaks, this dream-pop electronic track forms the heart of this EP.
The inclusion of three remixes of the song turns ‘Frequency’ into almost an album’s worth of listening pleasure. Shauna McLarnon manages a dreamy, ethereal singing style, hitting high notes and sounding as if she’s from the far north of Europe, rather than the similarly chilled wastes of Yukon.
The ‘Lama’ remixes remove the original’s guitar and play around in the space that this creates. The ‘Lights That Change Remix’ by that group’s Marc Joy is danceable, with a great bass guitar line and harp-like crescendos, like late Joy Division. It ends with an electronically treated guitar note that could be by The Cure. Even more danceable is the ‘OMD Remix’, by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark drummer Mal Holmes – aside from the strangely quiet middle section, like a far-off Indonesian gamelan. It soon erupts back into a powerful synthpop beat, influenced by everything from disco to New Order.
On opening track ‘Orion’, McLarnon sings about a “cosmic lover” and getting to “know the universe”. As much dreampop, it’s spacebop – mixing classical guitar and ‘Star Wars’ beeps and boops, and top string guitar playing that seems influenced by Japan.
Wolf Alice at their most shoegazing are a bit like ‘Winter Tale’, which layers echo after echo of McLarnon’s voice against a tick-tock drum machine, reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and Young Marble Giants. It’s no surprise that Robin Guthrie, co-founder of Cocteau Twins, is one of the remixers of ‘Lama’. His version is full of gorgeous deep bass and soft jazzy drums.
The instrumental ‘Galacticon’ brings back memories of the ‘Blade Runner Soundtrack’ by Vangelis. Deep bass synths rumble along while an almost classical tune meanders enjoyably in an ambient way. ‘Ocean Girl’ is a big contrast, with accordion and acoustic guitar adding folksy psychedelic elements, and Alexander Kretov singing.
The ‘Frequency EP’ ends with the three ‘Lama’ remixes, taking the listener on a cosmic sonic journey that, while introverted, dense and repetitive, is also uplifting and optimistic.