We all know that New Zealand has produced some great musical talents over the years. Today, there many multi-talented New Zealand bands that have established a strong following around the world and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are one of them.

Even though hosts of artists express fidelity to psychedelia’s roots, Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always shared an exceptional quality which makes the legends of the genre paramount, and a persistent need for exploration.

The band is just pure energy and innovation. It is jazzy, funky, poppy, and experimental. They’re well-known for their tracks, “So Good At Being In Trouble” and”Multi-Love.”

The group has been on the road many times, behaving drunk at times and reported as even sleeping in ditches, turning heads and curling ears with their enchanting sound all the way it what these guys do well, (well not the average band that’s for sure).

Quick Start Guide Unknown Mortal Orchestra:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, often referred to as UMO, is a New Zealand and American rock band comprised of songwriter, guitarist and singer Ruban Nielson, keyboardist Quincy McCrary, drummer Amber Baker, and bassist Jake Portrait. The group was started by Nielson (formerly of The Mint Chicks).

Nielson formed the band, after departing the band ‘The Mint Chicks.’ For just a hobby, Ruban composed demos in his basement. Fat Possum Records soon identified his experimental pop. In late 2010, the band was first introduced into the world as a Bandcamp profile presenting the track known as Ffunny Ffrends, that’s not a spelling mistake 🙂

Ffunny Ffrends was everything you could imagine– alien beatnik pop music which echoed 60s krautrock and psychedelia simplicity with only a hint of gentle oddness which suggested its origins might equally dwell in the abundant indie of the equally distant New Zealand scene.

Guitarist and Singer Ruban Nielson released the single “Ffunny Ffrends” on his unknown Bandcamp account on May 17th, 2010. It was released without any further information and notably no reference to the creator.

In a day, the track had gained vase coverage from the independent music blogs like Pitchfork. Through their significant reposting and efforts to search for the creator, Ruban finally claimed the single as Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s.

Ruban Nielson is a native of New Zealand who had relocated to Portland, Oregon, the United States with his band The Mint Chicks. Unknown Mortal Orchestra was a project conceptualized as Nielson’s escape root to a new musical aspect where his vision of the junkshop record collector pop could be achieved in a sound which recalled RZA, Sly Stone and Captain Beefheart jamming on a number of kids TV theme extremely dark to broadcast.

Out of his home studio, teenage prodigy Julien Ehrlich on drums and local Portland producer Jake Portrait on bass joined Nielson. The eponymous band’s first album was issued in 2011 on Fat Possum Records, followed by Multi-Love (2015) and II (2013).

Live in Concert Unknown Mortal Orchestra:

Career Highlights:

The first self-titled studio album of the band was issued June 21st, 2011 via Fat Possum Records. The album swiftly earned critical acclaim. Pitchfork gave the album a rating of 8.1, describing it as “an expert use of space rare for such a lo-fi record, UMO manages a unique immersive and psychedelic quality without relying on the usual array of bong-ripping effects.”

In Sept. 2012, the band revealed that they had signed to Jagjaguwar and were focusing on the production of their second full-length album. The group’s second album, II, was unveiled on Feb. 5th, 2013. The first track from the album, titled “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark),” was first presented as a 7″ on their tour with the Grizzly Bear.

In the spring of 2012, the group won the Taite Music Prize for their self-titled debut album. While the nominated UMO didn’t win Best Alternative Album, Ruban won the award for Best Male Artist at the 47th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards at Vector Arena on November 1.

On Feb. 5th, 2015, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra announced that they would release their third studio album, Multi-Love, on May 26th, 2015 via Jagjaguwar Records. Soon after, they issued the title single as the first track that Pitchfork classified as “Best New Track.”

After its release, critics received Multi-Love well. Rolling Stone remarked that “Multi-Love sees Nielson coloring outside the lines for a vibrant vision of connection” and Pitchfork commended Ruban’s ear for how something must sound and referred the album as his “most accomplished.” Tracks “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” and “Multi-Love” were both A-listed at BBC Radio 6 Music.

After the release, the band embarked on a four-region tour of the UK, the US, Canada, and Europe, with several sold out dates. Again, they toured in Europe through November 2015, before heading to New Zealand and Australia for a series of headline concerts in December 2015.

On August 13th, 2015, the band performed Multi-Love on Late Night with Seth Meyers. On August 25th that year, they also played “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” on Conan. On Feb. 16th, 2016, the Unknown Mortal Orchestra performed on the Last Call alongside Carson Daly. The association football video game FIFA 16 features the track “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.”

Present Status:

Last time we took a look (mid 2017) the band was doing some select gigs around the world in Bangkok, Iceland, South Korea and Singapore plus a few more countries.