Unknown Mortal Orchestra
II, 180G Black Vinyl LP
Album DescriptionEmerging from rampant hedonism and isolation is II, the new album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The musical vision of Portlander-via-New Zealand Ruban Nielson started as an anonymous home-recording project that fused psychedelia, soul, choppy percussion and funk. UMO came to life in basements and bedrooms after Nielson moved from his native New Zealand to Portland, Oregon with his family. Following the recruitment of bassist Jacob Portrait, new drummer Greg Rogove and a deal with Jagjaguwar, UMO toured the US with Grizzly Bear and Liars. II builds on the break-beat, junk-shop charm the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter came to be renowned for following his self-titled 2011 debut, and signals the solidification of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s position as an endlessly intriguing, brave psychedelic band. UMO is unafraid to dig deeper than the rest to lock into their intoxicating,opiate groove and bring rock’n’roll’s exaggerated myths to life. Written during a punishing, debauched touring schedule during which Nielson feared for both his sanity and health, II illustrates the emotional turmoil of life on the road, painting surrealist, cartoonish portraits of loneliness,love and despair. These conflicting themes are evident immediately; on the album’s sleeve is an unnerving image of Janet Farrar, thefamousBritishwitch,Wiccan,authorandteacherof witchcraft.Thechillingrefrainof opener�?IntoTheSun�? sees Nielson deliver the line �?Isolation can put a gun in your hand,�? softly, his words starkly intelligible above a warm, slow-burning melody that quickly brands itself onto your brain. His playful imagery (�?I’m so lonely I’ve gotta eat my popcorn all alone�?) mirrors the melody, before a solo that borders on psychotropic ends II�?s introduction.Asitunfolds,II doesfindNielsonreenergized.�?OneAtATime�?and�?FadedInTheMorning�?boast dizzying choruses and instrumentals; these crusty hunks could have been excavated from a lost 1960s treasure trove. �?Monki�? unravels over seven minutes like the yarn from a stoner’s cardigan with an eye-frying pattern. �?Dawn�?isaminuteof disconcertingnoisethatstandsoutbetweenthenooksandcranniesof thechoruses,guitar solos,groove-heavy bass and drums that were recorded live by newly-recruited drummer Greg Rogove and Kody Nielson in a move away from the electronic percussion employed on album one. II closes with�?Secret Xtians,�?a tender observational puzzle that fizzes to a satisfied end.