Unknown Mortal Orchestra: An album review

Unknown Mortal OrchestraThe name of this band is crying out for attention but at the same time acknowledging its mortality.  It is an affirmation of love for artistic endeavor.  Even so, it is the album “II” that is being reviewed and not the band’s name.  A band can have a poetic name and produce crap at the same time, but this is not the case.

“II” is an improvement of sorts.  It is the second album from Ruban Nielson who had released the track “Ffunny Ffriends” on his Bandcamp page in 2010 without any mention to whomever created it.  After some well-known bloggers got a hold of the track, Nielson acknowledged that the track was his and his project was born.  He was signed to Fat Possum Records and even opened for indie darlings, Grizzly Bear.

This album feels like a wooden box with a sad little man inside.  He’s trapped in his room and the only way he can affect anything is by making noise.  He wishes that he could “swim and sleep like a shark.”  He pulls us down into his world, and it may be our world too, because loneliness is part of the human condition.

Nielson hasn’t settled into his sound just yet.  This album has a lot of exploration and experimentation on it, channeling garage-rock, funk, jazz and psychedelia, so much so that it seems as if he is clawing and fumbling around at his art.  It gives it a human element, and I think that is what makes this album great.