Mind Altering Moments with Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“An hour-long set of psychedelic sonic explorations breathes fire into songs that can border on boring in their studio iterations,” the Sydney Morning Herald’s Matt Teffer writes in a review of a recent Unknown Mortal Orchestra concert in Sydney. “The laid-back ennui that permeates some of UMO’s catalogue (I’m looking at you, Necessary Evil) is nowhere to be seen, replaced by a joyous journey through rock, pop, prog and R&B.”
“[New Zealander] Ruban Nielson’s knack for raiding genres in his music is reflected in his stagecraft – he’s equally happy pulling off dance spins and the splits as sitting cross-legged, plucking an electric sitar guitar on Multi-Love, his paean to polyamory.
“The stomping fuzz rock of Major League Chemicals channels Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin before breaking down into stop-start thrash-metal time signatures, but there’s more to UMO’s sound than guitar heroics. Nielson’s husky, soulful voice takes centre-stage on American Guilt, backed only by chiming piano and the hand claps of the crowd, while retro ‘60s and ‘70s keyboard washes on Not in Love We’re Just High and in Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays bring to mind Supertramp and Steely Dan respectively.
“The sound mix is in the pocket, be it Ministry of Alienation’s panned tom-toms thumping across the stereo spectrum or the delicate glockenspiel of Hunnybee, where sympathetic lighting creates the impression of a cosy glow-worm cave on stage.
“Rainbow hues are the perfect accompaniment to the closing Can’t Keep Checking My Phone, with Jake Portrait’s standout bubbling disco bassline getting heads bobbing and toes tapping – a feelgood ending to a mind-altering evening.”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is currently touring. The band performs in Guadalajara, Mexico on 4 October and in Mexico City at Hipnosis 2018 on 6 October.
Original article by Matt Teffer, The Sydney Morning Herald, September 17, 2018.