At first glance the instrumentation might suggest their music might be a sparse jazzy affair. Yet the integration of live electronics and processing makes their sound float somewhere between post-rock, ambient, electronica and the subtle, cool tones of ECM-style jazz.
The duo has released 3 albums: Civitas Soli (2008), Hymn To Undiscovered Land (2010), Meeting Unknown (2012).
Hymn To Undiscovered Land was produced by Andi Pupato, percussionist with zen-funk cult band, Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. Andi’s distinctive playing is also featured on the album, along with guest vocalist Tim Bowness (from the group No-Man) who adds his languorous voice to the title track.
What both have in common is a beautiful clarity, haunting atmospherics, and an undeniably lyrical, accessible quality that is as engaging as it is intense.
With UMA the point between improvisation and composition is blurred. What counts is the relationship between the instruments, establishing a fine balance between providing space for each other to work in and to be able to express themselves as individuals.
With UMA there are no grandstanding solos or brash showy flights of technique. Instead the players take a supportive, painterly approach to creating moods and detail.
Their carefully constructed sound world evokes the contemplative spaces of another celebrated Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, whose music Saks has played on many occasions as a member of various classical ensembles.
The name UMA comes from the South Estonian Setu dialect and means ‘own.’ “When we say umamusic” explains UMA “we mean it is our own music, that we are making music in our own way.”
The group is attracting admiration and support from many quarters, including the legendary King Crimson guitarist, Robert Fripp. London Jazz Festival described UMA as “an unconventionally beautiful combination of guitar, trumpet and the rarely-heard corno da caccia”.
In July 2010, Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine described Hymn To Undiscovered Land thus: “Across its 40 minutes, minimalist pulses and wafting echoes of stratospheric trumpet build with a beguiling, dreamy, elegance that is utterly mesmerising. Brimming with a lyrical sensuality, Jürjendal’s intricate guitar work provides some entrancing structures through which the bell-like clarity of Saks’ soaring brass shines.”