On July 26, Ummagma will release Compass (Leonard Skully), the third album from the Canada/Ukraine husband-and-wife duo and first in seven years. Now based in Ontario, Alexander Kretov and Shauna McLarnon met in Moscow in 2003 and began a romantic and musical partnership. The dozen-track Compass follows two 2017 EPs, LCD (with Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie and Curve’s Dean Garcia) and Winter Tale (with A.R. Kane). One of the new LP’s standouts is lead single “High Day.”
Says McLarnon of the track, “It’s one of those ‘accidental songs’ that were created under odd circumstances. We were going through a tense time, living between two cities and seeing each other only when commuting ‘home’ with our daughter for the weekend. Something happened to cause us to fight; I don’t even remember what exactly and we were not talking to each other, but ended up having a guest come over—another musician. We took turns entertaining him because we didn’t want to be in the same room as each other. I hadn’t been singing anything for a few months at this point, and my husband found me singing with this guest upon returning. He took out the hand-held recorder and captured this improvisation. Later, upon playback, we knew that a song needed to be born, and we at least had an idea of the chords and stylings needed.”
So not only did McLarnon and Kretov get a song out of their quarrel, they also were able to use it to move past the argument itself. “It was a song of apology and awakening,” says McLarnon. “Not to say ‘I’m sorry for what I did or said,’ but to admit how stupid it was that we could both let something so small stand in the way of something so huge—that being us, our music and our family. This song helped us move past this to restore equilibrium in our relationship—and got me singing and writing again. This was our ‘High Day,’ and now it’s your ‘High Day,’ too.”
We’re proud to premiere the Kretov-directed video for “High Day” today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out now.