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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

8.7

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra EP

In the mid-1970s, NASA, in an attempt to communicate with alien life, sent a burst of scrambled radio waves into outer space. Rather than send any specific information, scientists thought the most likely way aliens would understand human communication would be music and hence used a collection of popular radio songs of the time to make up the data in the signal. The scrambled waves travelled through space for several decades before eventually being intercepted by an alien race from the Andromeda galaxy. These aliens then attempted to rearrange the waves into the best order they could and, in response to the humans' message, beamed their interpretation of the music back to Earth. However, rather than the signal returning to NASA headquarters, the aliens missed their target and the waves were instead beamed to Portland, Oregan, and directly into the brains of the members of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Unleashing these alien-infused streams of funk, r'n'b and neo-soul, Unknown Mortal Orchestra's four song debut EP is a psychedelic thrill ride on the Soul Train, awash with wah pedals, ass-shakin' bass lines, echoed-out vocals, Grandmaster Flash-worthy break beats and thick, vinyl production.

U.M.O. front man, Ruban Nielson, has already had a lot of success in his previous musical life as a member of experimental punk-pop brats/experts, The Mint Chicks, but his alien exposure has introduced him to a whole new world George Clinton only ever had bad trips about. Apart from exploring the range of his singing chops, his guitar work is outstanding and he is supported by a tight as a wrench rhythm section.

Which brings up the next interesting element of U.M.O, the "Unknown" part of their name isn't just for show. Aside from Nielson's presence in the group, the rest of the band remains largely anonymous. Investigating their website only exhumes a Twitter link, some tour dates and a Warhol-like video of an eye entitled '?'.

So apart from the ability to craft fucked up funk and soul beamed from the '70s, it seems the aliens bestowed upon U.M.O. another attribute that's extremely rare in the modern day music industry — the ability to cultivate an air of mystery.

Whoever they are and whatever probes they're using to do it, we can only look to the skies and wait for more.

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Record Reviews
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The Mint Chicks

 

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