"I only started playing the acoustic guitar last year. I'd always preferred the idea that the guitar converts a sound into voltage and then becomes really loud. I thought the acoustic guitar was a little bit too twee for me or something. But after being offered some opportunities to play various acoustic sessions to promote the new record, in situations where it wasn't possible to record the whole band, I decided to treat it like a challenge to try and play acoustic and not have it be lame. After all I was really into Arthur Lee's ability with an acoustic and started wondering if I could make it sound convincing. Anyway, after being somewhat forced to develop some skill on the acoustic through these various radio sessions and things like that I decided to record some songs acoustically and release them since people seemed to be liking the way I was doing it. Everything was recorded straight to tape in my basement with a one mic set up." — RUBAN NIELSON, UMO
II builds on the break-beat, junk-shop charm the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ruban Nielson came to be renowned for following Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled 2011 debut, and signals the solidification of the band'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.
As Unknown Mortal Orchestra, New Zealand by-way-of Portland songwriter and guitarist Ruban Nielson marries spry, nervy psychedelia with sharp R&B touchstones. Timeless pop hooks are produced with a soft buzzsaw edge so that the effect is akin to Stevie Wonder producing Plastic Ono Band into Nuggets-like gems. It's a one-two punch that has caught the ear of hip-hop community heavyweights (like ?uestlove, El-P) and indie-world heroes (Liars, Toro Y Moi). With bassist Jacob Portrait and drummer Greg Rogrove, Unknown Mortal Orchestra is preparing a full-length for early 2013. Single "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)," a bittersweet power-pop romp with melodies more delicate than most approaching the genre would dare, is our first taste from the recordings. It's b-side, "Waves of Confidence," is slow-grind sizzurp psych that, by its end, has built and layered to transcendent heights.