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Ursa Minor – Shell EP

Maria Turauskis


Shell is the debut EP from London duo Ursa Minor and follows on from the group’s debut single Droplet Affection, which received praise from the likes of BBC 6Music and Clash magazine. Offering listeners a selection of four completely new tracks and one remix in the group’s noteworthy style, where dream-pop meets house beats.

Ursa Minor describe themselves as “house-inspired glitter pop”, but in reality their music is far more intelligent and subtle than this. This is intelligent house, aesthetically orientated and charged, not unintelligible, smashed-out house toonz. This is music for chill out clubs or early morning after parties in Ibiza, and you are more likely to see pictures of Damien Hirst’s work and nostalgic hipstermatic pictures of old Korg synths rather than any endorsement from traditional Clubland.

Each track on Shell offers a subtle fusion of house inspired beats with low-key, tuned down, restrained and muted timbres. The interplay between each timbre is sophisticated and diverse, with evident roots in post dubstep, trip hop and IDM. Occasionally however, punchy, thick synth timbres also occur, inducing a heavier, dancier vibe particularly apparent on the track Ha!.

Vocals from front woman Little Bear occur on each track, heavily saturated as they are with various effects, including reverb, chorus and enveloping. Such effects make the already fairly soft and ethereal vocals appear all the more haunting, so much so that at times the vocals sound almost alien. Unfortunately, Little Bear’s vocal style – her enunciation and expression is at times ever so slightly Eurotrash, which does partially compromise the sophisticated instrumentation on each track. This however is a minor issue – the voice is mostly quite lovely, especially on Wild Flowers, where it sours delicately over saw toothed waves.

Shell is perhaps ultimately a mixed debut EP, with plenty of positive attribute alongside a few minor issues. It is a good start, however, and a sign of greater potential to come.