UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA

While legions of artists show fidelity to psychedelia's roots, Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always shared the rare quality that makes the genre's legends vital, a constant need for exploration. Last year, frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson descended into his home studio in a Portland basement to chart out where's he traveled since his last set of unhinged psych-soul ballads. He discovered that the best way for him to move forward would be to look back. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together. Nielson wrote the surrealistic II during an isolated period on the road, a walkabout throughout disillusionment and darkness when he pushed away. The more upbeat Multi-Love charts a different type of catharsis and reflects on relationships. "The writing on this album was more abstract, riddles that slightly disrupt the flow," he says. "A good lyric was something that didn't quite sit right. I don't want to be sad or nostalgic about these relationships. I want to be more celebratory. It's a feeling and desire that just came from time, being further away from it all. It was never going to be simple. I'm a bit wild, and was never going to just be normal." The threads of our past never unravel, they hover like invisible webs, occasionally glistening due to a sly angle of the sun. On Multi-Love, Nielson walks right into this intoxicating and inviting cloud, enveloped by the haze of memory and the fog of the past: longing, loss, wanting to be tied up but not tied down. The title track plots out the geometry of desire when three people align. Lyrics such as "actor, but never for stage and screen" reference past affairs that can never be understood. The languid "The World is Crowded" speaks to an addictive obsession. "Can't Keep Checking My Phone," with an opening serenade of intertwined trumpet and guitar, struts and sings, neon synths and bouncing bass telling of an airy, humid feeling pressing against your temples. Nielson isn't animated by pain but the mysteries that unravel from the spark of attraction. Beyond exploring universal feelings of attachment, Nielson also reconstructed his music-making process, expanding his horizons and abilities. The guitar virtuoso engrossed himself in synthesizers and production techniques, rediscovering a sense of craft and creation. Synapses fired as new musical connections were mapped out. In a basement space with cords snaking across the floor, connecting banks of keyboards and reams of new ideas, he literally rewired instruments and learned the joy of creating something out of nothing. His vocals reach new heights, especially on the soaring title track. The new psychedelic canvas moves past citing references to creating his own narrative. "It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artist is today, a curator," he says. "Our society wants to curate and consume. I wanted to be the guy behind the scenes, to demonstrate multiple skills and make it transparent. Not creating this overblown idea of a rock star or anything like that. It's more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren't quite like anyone else's. I think that's much more subversive." It's psychedelia that doesn't ignore the last 40 years of music, pushing boundaries and making a quiet argument against the idea that every frontier has been explored. Multi-Love offers a flowing, cohesive view of Nielson's expanded vision. Jagged, sculpted beats and cosmic synthesizers (especially on the weightless outro of "Stage or Screen") add dimension to a genre supposedly known for its expansive creativity. During the making of his last album, Nielson jokingly recorded a song called "Two Generations of Excess" with an eight-minute guitar solo, which was never included. The sheer sonic variety on Multi-Love suggests he's still feeling creative and restless. "I didn't want to subscribe to the idea that synths are futuristic and guitars are old-fashioned," he says. "It's not about being a purist." In many ways, the album is Nielson's reckoning with and reinterpretation of the promise of the '60s. Have the ideals from that period of searching optimism, and the corresponding progress towards more fulfilling relationships and a more just society, truly been been met, or as Nielson believes, are we all still searching? Viewed through the prism of today's progress (or lack thereof), Multi-Love speaks to a more complicated and tricky view of love, enlightenment and racial harmony. "Puzzles" literally begins with what sounds like windows shattering and someone sweeping up the pieces of broken glass, an indictment of recent racial tension in Ferguson and elsewhere that show a country off course. "I was listening a lot to Stand by Sly and the Family Stone, obsessing over the lyrics of this multi-racial band and all these different people coming together to make music" says Nielson. "I thought we were getting better. We've had these better ideas of ourselves for decades, but how much have things really changed?" This was also a family affair. His brother, a drummer and former bandmate in Flying Nun punk band The Mint Chicks, as well as his father, a trumpet player who had set a hedonistic example during his childhood, make guest appearances. The song "Necessary Evil" (Transform into the animal you need to / Fly from a destiny infested with chemicals) references Nielson's shared affinity for a hard-partying lifestyle with his father. Revisiting old relationships and loves, reconnecting with family, reinventing your artistic process: what might seem like a series of painful processes liberated Nielson. It's tricky raw material to fashion into something more buoyant and illuminating. He just hopes the searching and reevaluating help others take stock of their own connections and achieve catharsis. "I'm glad I had this opportunity, and if I made someone's life easier with the album, that's the closest reason that exists for making art that I've been able to find," he says.

WATCH // UMO’s Rick Alverson-Directed “From the Sun” Video

Another day, another video! Here’s a new piece for Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “From The Sun.” You know you’re in for something stellar/dark/bending with a director like Rick Alverson on board. Watch above or at Noisey.

It’s no surprise this band has a million upcoming tour dates. Catch them at a number of festivals and venues starting this summer and through the end of the year.

UMO Remixes Lindstrom, Announces Fall Tour Dates

Unknown Mortal Orchestra returns the remix favor with a reworking of Lindstrom’s “Rà-àkõ-st.” You’ll recognize UMO’s touch right away, echoing lines from Ruban’s II. Stream the track above.

What makes a remix even better? New tour dates, of course. UMO has extended what is making itself out to be a year-long tour, with shows going into September and October. You’ll find the new dates below.

 
TOUR DATES:
Sept-26 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Sept-27 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
Sept-28 San Diego, CA – Casbah
Sept-29 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
Oct-2 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
Oct-3 Little Rock, AR – Stickyz RocknRoll Chicken Shack
Oct-4 Nashville, TN – Exit In
Oct-5 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
Oct-6 Carrboro, NC – Cats Cradle
Oct-8 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
Oct-9 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
Oct-14 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
Oct-15 Montreal, Canada – Cabaret Mile End
Oct-16 Toronto, Canada – Lee’s Palace
Oct-17 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick Lounge
Oct-18 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
Oct-19 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar
Oct-22 Madison, WI – The Frequency
Nov-7 London, UK – Electric Ballroom
Nov-8 Manchester, UK – Gorilla

Check out all of UMO’s dates HERE.

LISTEN UP // UMO Performs Live for The Line of Best Fit

Unknown Mortal Orchestra brings you an acoustic version of “So Good At Being In Trouble.” Recorded for The Line of Best Fit back in February, the track takes a laid back turn, but still encompasses a serious bite. You can watch the session above.

Since their May shows have sold out, UMO have just announced they will return to the UK later this year. You can see them at London’s Electric Ballroom on November 7th and Manchester’s Gorilla the following day. See all of their upcoming dates HERE.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra Share New Tour Dates & Lindstrom Remix

The best time is remix time. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)” gets a redo by Norwegian producer, Lindstrom. The tracks comes in conjunction with the announcement of new North American tour dates. You’ll find both posted below.

 
NEW TOUR DATES:
Jun-14 Bellingham, WA – The Wild Buffalo
Jun-15 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
Jun-16 Spokane, WA – The Center
Jun-17 Pullman, WA – Belltower Concert House
Jun-21 Winnipeg, MB Canada – West End Culture Centre
Jun-22 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium (Dempseys Upstairs)
Jun-23 Minneapolis, MN – The Cedar
Jun-24 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
Jun-26 Akron, OH – Musica
Jun-28 New York, NY – Seaport Music Festival
Jun-29 Hamden, CT – The Space

To see all of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s upcoming tour dates, head HERE.

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

From The Sun by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark) by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

So Good At Being In Trouble by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark) by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

05/07/15
Eugene, OR - WOW Hall  w/ Nurses

05/09/15
Seattle, WA - Barboza  w/ Nurses

05/10/15
Spokane, WA - The Bartlettt  w/ Nurses

05/20/15
Bristol, UK - Thekla

05/21/15
London, UK - Islington Assembly Hall

05/22/15
Coventry, UK - Warwick University  w/ Django Django

05/23/15
Liverpool, UK - Liverpool Sound Society  w/ Django Django

See all upcoming shows

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