It’s strange to think that Unknown Mortal Orchestra started out as a basement production output in 2010. But then again it’s not.
The sound production is so precise and neklevel but the music that has been created seems unbound, unhinged and the all of an artist. It travels on without a tinge of ‘this sound is really grabbing people at the moment’; it travels on with the tinge of ‘setting the bar’. Basements and bedrooms are the universes of free-forming ideas.
From the insightful intuition of UMO’s main guy, Ruban Nielson, comes Multi-Love – a multi-dimensional journey into what I can best describe as, ‘what it would feel like if the title sequence of Cosmos was a real moment of travel and then you ended up in villa with the tunes that nostalgic-futuristic dreams are made of’.
Kicking off with a contender for track of 2015, “Multi-Love” sets up a digital-medieval landscape with its staccato harpsichord-like intro and floaty vocals, steaming off the confusion of loss of innocence when lust sets in.
Opportunistic lyrics, tight drum clacks and a driving wobbled guitar melody folded over the top of the vocals, it’s a recipe from geniuses only.
Disco comes into play with “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”. Its new age, 70’s d-floor feel is perfectly juxtaposed with the reality that we live in now – the perils of the age of immediacy.
The greatest thing about this album is hearing everything you could ever love in it. Rufus & Chaka Khan, Primal Scream, Rick James, Stevie Wonder, Tame Impala, Sly and the Family Stone, Fatboy Slim, Thelma Houston, Fela and Elliot Smith to name only a few.
Whilst Nielson asserts that this album is a dissertation about his recent polyamorous relationship with his wife (Jenny) and a woman named Laura, music was the therapy to Rueben’s jealously and constant self-evaluation of himself as a partner, and Multi-Love is an ode to that (I recommend giving this Pitchfork interview a read for better understanding of that relationship).
What is apparent is that UMO has greatly influenced Tame Impala’s forthcoming Currents. The analogues manipulated, the exploration and combination of 90s acid-rave and 70s funk, the video clips that feel like using those spiral drawers after eating a bag of mushies, the outputs of genius’ that hole-up in their basements/bedrooms and play with sound.
This movement is something that will be flogged over the next year or so by shitty bands that will want to make some coin (remember Flume and then every 20 year old dance producer after that that sounded like him). But as my grade four art teacher once said when someone copied my paper mache hot air balloon design: ‘The original is always better’.
Touché Mrs Atkins.
Multi-Love is a treat. We have been loaded with sounds, we have been loaded with what only limitless creativity can test and try and test again. We have been given the best of the best. Tracks like “The World Is Crowded” literally spoil us with the best kind of influences as it cleverly plods through simple groove bass lines, drum hooks and ‘lax vocal buildings.
When the album finishes up with “Puzzles”, we enter into a lo-fi, semi-electronic, clipping sample of futuristic grunge. Is the journey over, or is it just beginning?
Though there was a big gap between this and II and we were left hugging our vinyls of that to sleep, praying for more, it is only sane to keep to telling ourselves that UMO has just taken us to the best place ever and we are just going to sit here for awhile until they move us along.
Forever in your debt, UMO, forever in your debt. Ffunny ffriendz fforever.
Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand (no obligatory jokes here cuz that’s my motherland too).
Latest Release: Multi-Love (2014, Jagjaguwar)
Sounds Like: Tame Impala, MGMT, Dorsal Fins
Say What? I could hit you up with some generic Googled fact here but I’m just going to give you a link to “So Good At Being In Trouble” and a recipe for some cookies. Classic UMO, classikkkkkkk.
Paws and pineapples, Cat