The Berlin-based husband and wife duo UMA recently dropped their debut EP titled “Drop Your Soul,” which features a collaboration with ’60s electronic music pioneers, Silver Apples.
UMA formed in late 2011 and recorded the EP in their home studio in Berlin using a combination of analogue synthesizers, drum machines and digital recording equipment. Aside from Silver Apples, the duo are influenced by everything from classical and Throbbing Gristle to Bjork and Animal Collective.
The title track, a study in the darkly surreal, is a rather beautiful synthesis of musique concrète, melody and harmony. It ranges from crystalline, raindrop-like synth and percussion notes to dissonant noise—the work of Silver Apples apparently. Where “Drop Your Soul” is deliciously experimental, “Mirror/Dignity” is more buoyant, like Lykke Li copulating with Neu! There’s a motorik thread running through the song’s DNA, but UMA don’t simply replicate but absorb. There’s also an undeniable Animal Collective psychedelic collage in the song’s closing moments.
A darker, more mesmerizing turn is taken on “Birds,” with the duo exploring space in a mathematical way, dropping in noise at intervals with Ella singing “Where have you gone, gone… Where do I belong?”
If one can imagine a German Beach Boys fronted by a female vocalist, well then “Dream Machine” might be the embodiment of that daydream. In a way, it’s an electronic sampler of the 1968 “Smiley Smile” album, and probably the EP’s strongest track. If UMA can pull off this sort of sonic alchemy on a future LP, then they’ll have no shortage of listeners.
Also featured on the EP is a remix of “Drop Your Soul” by Yosi Harikawa, which at times strays a bit too close to the Animal Collective template—that is, until 1:14, when synthetic harp strings or Japanese stringed instrument samples, add another dimension to the sound. The result is sublime and wondrous. A moment of alchemical synaesthesia.
The EP, with a cover that is one part Bjork and one part Klaus Nomi, will be available as 7” via Enraptured Records and Seayou Records. Watch the video below as well, which is supposedly inspired by German Dada artist Hugo Ball and Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer.