Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra performing at Sala Apolo in Barcelona, Spain in 2015
|Origin||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Associated acts||Blouse, The Mint Chicks, Whitney|
|Past members||Julien Ehrlich |
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) is a New Zealand psychedelic rock band formed in Auckland, primarily composed of singer, guitarist, and songwriter Ruban Nielson, and bassist Jake Portrait. The band is currently based in Portland, Oregon, America. Nielson started the band in 2010. The band's first album was released in 2011 on Fat Possum Records; four subsequent studio albums have been released on Jagjaguwar, the most recent being IC-01 Hanoi (2018).
Singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson released the track "Ffunny Ffriends" on his anonymous Bandcamp profile on 17 May 2010. No further information was provided and notably, no mention of who created it. Within a day, the song had received significant coverage from independent music blogs such as Pitchfork. Through their reposting and attempts to hunt down the creator, Nielson eventually claimed the track as Unknown Mortal Orchestra's.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The band's debut self-titled album was released 21 June 2011 on Fat Possum Records. The album quickly received critical acclaim. Ruban promoted a ‘Kiwi Edition’ of the album on his Instagram, which includes a bonus track. Pitchfork gave the album an 8.1, describing that with "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 the spring of 2012, the band won the Taite Music Prize for the album. Although the nominated Unknown Mortal Orchestra did not win Best Alternative Album, Nielson took home the title of Best Male Artist at the 47th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
In September 2012, Unknown Mortal Orchestra announced that they had signed to Jagjaguwar and were working on their second full-length album. Unknown Mortal Orchestra's second album, II, was released on 5 February 2013. The first single from the album, entitled "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)", was first available as a 7" on their tour with Grizzly Bear.
II has received widespread critical acclaim. In November 2013 it won Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards. II was nominated for the Taite Music Prize 2014, an annual music prize awarded for the best album from New Zealand. Clash Music gave the album a 9 out of 10, saying "from opener 'From The Sun', which recalls George Harrison-psychedelia, to the tender Family Stone shuffle of the closing of 'Secret Xtians', 'II' displays both a glowing warmth in its production and a deft use of space that illuminate Nielson's superbly crafted compositions." Paste magazine called the album "a modern, beat-heavy take on '60s psych, with plenty of hooks and fuzz to get you hooked and feeling fuzzy." NME praised Ruban's ability to turn his songs into "works of warm, fuzzy beauty".
During the winter of 2012, Unknown Mortal Orchestra capitalized on the success of II and embarked on a world tour. The tour started off with shows in Australia, and hometown shows in New Zealand, followed by several stops in Europe. The band then toured extensively throughout North America with opener Foxygen. In March 2013, Unknown Mortal Orchestra was named one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see artists at SXSW. Unknown Mortal Orchestra consistently sold out shows in both the UK/Europe and in North America, and as a result of their success on the road they announced in early April that they would extend their tour through the end of 2013. That summer the band performed at a number of major European festivals, including Roskilde Festival, Pukkelpop and Lowlands.
On 5 February 2015, the band announced their third studio album, Multi-Love. Soon after, they released the title track as the first single, which was designated "Best New Track" by Pitchfork. Multi-Love was released on 26 May 2015. It was well received by critics. Rolling Stone commented that "Multi-Love sees Nielson coloring outside the lines for a vibrant vision of connection"  and Pitchfork praised Nielson's ear for how something should sound and referred to the album as his "most accomplished". Singles "Multi-Love" and "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" were both A-listed at BBC's 6 Music.
Following the release, UMO embarked on a tour through the UK, Europe, the US and Canada, with many sold out dates. On August 12, UMO performed Multi-Love on Late Night with Seth Meyers. On August 25 they performed "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" on Conan. On 16 February 2016 the band performed on Last Call with Carson Daly. "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" also appears in the association football video game FIFA 16.
Sex & Food and IC-01 Hanoi
The band's fourth studio album, Sex & Food, was released on 6 April 2018, garnering a lot of praise from fans and critics.
In a review on Reflektor Magazine the following was said, "The consistent thread through the UMO catalog remains strong; frontman Ruban Nielson spins a soulful vocal over a backdrop of melodically rich music and slick rhythm. This album builds on many of the synthesizers and sampled drum textures introduced on the previous breakout LP Multi-Love in 2015, but offers a different ride. The entire album was covertly previewed in SB-05, the 2017 installment of a Christmas day instrumental/ambient track released digitally for free. Upon first listen, Sex & Food reveals each song in its full form, a pleasant surprise." In July, the BBC Radio & 6Music named Sex & Food one of the best albums released in 2018.
Following the release, the band set out on a global tour with stops in North America, Europe, UK, Asia, New Zealand and Australia, with many sold out dates. In September 2018, they announced the release of an instrumental album that originated from the sessions for Sex & Food, titled IC-01 Hanoi. It was released on 26 October 2018.
- Ruban Nielson – lead vocals, guitar, drums, bass, piano, keyboards, synthesizers (2010–present)
- Jacob Portrait – bass, synths, backing vocals (2010–present)
- Kody Nielson – drums, percussion, synths, backing vocals (2018–present; studio only 2013–present)
- Quincy McCrary – keyboards, synths, backing vocals (2015-2018; 2019)
- Chris Nielson – keyboards, synths, saxophone, backing vocals (2018-present)
- Julien Ehrlich – drums (2010–2012)
- Gregory Rogove – drums, backing vocals (2012–2013)
- Riley Geare – drums, backing vocals (2013-2017)
- Amber Baker – drums (2017–2018)
- Thomas Hoganson – keyboards, synths, backing vocals (2018)
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Unknown Mortal Orchestra||35||—||—||—||—||—||—[A]||—||—|
|Sex & Food||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
- Blue Record (2013)
|"Ffunny Ffrends"||2010||—||—||31||Unknown Mortal Orchestra|
|"How Can You Luv Me"||2011||—||—||—|
|"So Good at Being in Trouble"||2013||—||—||—||II|
|"Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)"||—||—||48|
|"From the Sun"||—||—||—|
|"Can't Keep Checking My Phone"||—||84||—|
|"First World Problem"||2016||—||—||44||Non-album single|
|"Shakedown Street"||—||—||—||Day of the Dead|
|"American Guilt"||2018||1||—||34||Sex & Food|
|"Not in Love We're Just High"||5||—||—|
|"Hanoi 6"||—||—||—||IC-01 Hanoi|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
Other charted songs
|"Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays"||2018||4||Sex & Food|
|"A God Called Hubris"||1|
|"Ministry of Alienation"||2|
As featured artist
Daniel Johnston feat. Unknown Moral Orchestra
|"Cellphone (Unknown Mortal Orchestra Rework)" 
Silicon & Unknown Moral Orchestra
|"Raakost (Remix) Lindstrøm cover"
Prins Thomas feat. Unknown Moral Orchestra
|2018||The Movement of the Free Spirit|
|"Beauty & Essex"
The Free Nationals feat. Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Gorillaz feat. GoldLink and Unknown Mortal Orchestra
|2020||Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|2012||Unknown Mortal Orchestra||Taite Prize, Independent Music New Zealand||Won||[failed verification]|
|2013||II||Album of the Year, New Zealand Music Awards||Nominated|||
|"So Good at Being in Trouble"||Single of the Year, New Zealand Music Awards||Nominated|||
|2015||Ruban Nielson and Kody Nielson for "Multi-Love"||APRA Silver Scroll||Won|||
|Multi-Love||Best Alternative Album, New Zealand Music Awards||Won|||
|"Multi-Love"||Best Single, New Zealand Music Awards||Nominated|||
|2016||Multi-Love||Taite Prize, Independent Music New Zealand||Nominated|||
|2019||Sex & Food||Best Foreign Album, Sweden GAFFA Awards||Nominated|||
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra did not enter the Billboard 200, but peaked at number 39 on Top Heatseekers chart.
- Blais-Billie, Braudie (25 September 2018). "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Announce New Album IC-01 Hanoi, Share New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
- "Ffunny Ffriends by Unknown Mortal Orchestra". Bandcamp. 17 May 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2016.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- Ryan, Catbird (18 May 2010). "Unknown Mortal Orchestra – "Ffunny Ffriends"". MBVMusic.Com. The Catbirdseat. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- Fitzmaurice, Larry (18 May 2010). "Ffunny Ffrends". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Who Is Unknown Mortal Orchestra?". The Corner. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Hyman, Dan (4 December 2012). Listen Up: Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Elle. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Cohen, Ian, (22 June 2011). Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Pitchfork. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "UMO Wins Tate Music Prize". stuff.co.nz. 20 April 2012.
- Young, Alex (28 November 2012). Unknown Mortal Orchestra announces 2013 tour dates. Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II | Reviews | Clash Magazine". Clashmusic.com. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "Watch Unknown Mortal Orchestra Play Fallon". Stereogum. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "NME Album Reviews – Unknown Mortal Orchestra – 'II'". NME. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Plot Tour". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "30 Must-See Acts at SXSW 2013 – Photos – South by Southwest – Festivals – Fuse". Fuse.tv. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "ALBUM ANNOUNCE // Unknown Mortal Orchestra Announces Acoustic 'Blue Record' EP, Out 10/29 Blog :: JAGJAUWAR". Jagjaguwar. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- ""Multi-Love" by Unknown Mortal Orchestra Review – Pitchfork".
- Suzy Exposito (24 July 2015). "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Multi-Love Album Review". Rolling Stone.
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love Album Review – Pitchfork".
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra". BBC.
- "Watch Unknown Mortal Orchestra Bring 'Multi-Love' to 'Late Night' – Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone.
- "FIFA 16 Soundtrack".
- "Reflektor – Unknown Mortal Orchestra kick off the springtime..." Reflektor. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
- "charts.nz – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". charts.nz. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- Peaks in Australia:
- "ultratop.be – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- "ultratop.be – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
- "Discografie Unknown Mortal Orchestra". dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- "Chart Log UK 2013 – Zobbel". zobbel.de. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- Peak positions for Unknown Mortal Orchestra's singles on the NZ Artist Heatseeker singles chart:
- For "American Guilt": "NZ Artist Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- For "Not in Love We're Just High": "NZ Artist Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- For "Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays": "NZ Artist Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- For "A God Called Hubris" and "Ministry of Alienation": "NZ Artist Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- "Mexico Ingles Airplay". Billboard.
- Fu, Eddie (28 February 2018). "UMO share new song "Not in Love We're Just High": Stream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
- "Beauty & Essex (feat. Daniel Caesar & Unknown Mortal Orchestra) - Single by Free Nationals on Apple Music". iTunes Store. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Wins Taite Music Prize – Amplifier NZ Music".
- "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Wins Taite Music Prize – Amplifier NZ Music".
- "Nielson Brothers Awarded 2015 APRA Silver Scroll". Under the Radar. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- "Broods clean up at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards". The New Zealand Herald.
- "Best Kiwi albums of 2015 announced". The New Zealand Herald.
- "GAFFA-priset 2019 – här är artisterna som ligger bäst till". GAFFA (in Swedish). Sweden. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Unknown Mortal Orchestra.|