Unknown Mortal Orchestra ? Unknown Mortal Orchestra (True Panther Sounds)

July 24, 2011 by  

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) are a three piece from New Zealand and is the brain child of lead singer Ruban Neilson who started UMO as bedroom project and hobby. The band became elusive and didn’t give much away, making themselves invisible with the media up until the album release. The music is a fusion of different styles from 60’s styled pysch-pop, lo-fi funk and flecks of hip hop production in the drum beats making it hard to pigeon-hole, it’s a style which is just like the
band themselves, mysterious.

The album starts with the insanely catchy ‘Ffunny Ffriends’ and here you’ll get to hear the off kilter production from UMO, when Neilson said he was treating UMO as a hobby, he wasn’t kidding. The album feels like it was recorded in the early ’60s with primitive equipment and when you listen to it it’s got that my-first-demo feel to it. This is a factor that maybe annoying for some audio purists, but if you let the surfy Strokes-esque guitar riffs dazzle your ear drums you’ll realise it adds a texture to the album similar to them other ’60s doo-wopers Cults.

UMO moves a long at a fast pace and having an end time in the region of thirty minutes, it is over far too quickly making no time whatsoever to completely digest what you’ve heard. The different songs whirl through many genres making blatent nods of recognition to pioneering bands and artists like the Beatles and Beck. In the psychedelic ‘Thought Ballune’ Neilson’s vocals and lyrics are deep in Lennon territory with a chorus which starts ‘I’m a smiling alligator’. It sounds like a lost track which didn’t make Magical Mystery Tour.

The catchy guitar riffs and melodic vocals continue with ‘How Can You Luv Me?’ which bounces out the speakers like a Jackson 5 hit. It makes you realise that bedroom style production and all them excessive audio effects which would make your average sound engineer scream ‘thats too much!’ have been used for songs like this. You wouldn’t want to hear it in any other way. Once again here is another band who have come along and reheated a style of music which has been
untouched and forgotten just to add their own ingredients to the mix. Just like Cults, UMO have succeeded in making a similar album but using a more bare-bones and roughneck approach to their production which other bands wouldn’t dare to try. Just remember though, UMO is just a hobby for Ruban Neilson.