Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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story + photos / Ericka Clevenger

Unknown Mortal Orchestra played a ridiculously great set last Friday at the Echo in Los Angeles, California. The Portland Oregon based trio, consisting of Ruban Neilson (Guitar/Vocals), Jacob Portrait (bass) and Julien Ehrlich (drums) have proven to be more than just a lo-fi band of it’s nature. Portrait is a great producer, and can hold down some serious bass-lines, Neilson can shred on the guitar like he’s handling a machine gun in space, and  Ehrlich matches the two of them perfectly with his youthful punchy percussion skills. They take their diverse skills and melt them together to create a unique sound that sounds almost like you are listening through a tin can in another vortex.
After releasing their self-titled debut LP through Possum Records, they have been on the road together playing shows and gaining a reputation of greatness for matching  their live show, to their highly praised album. The tracks are translated perfectly on stage, soaked in 60’s psych-rock beats, with simple pop beats that are layered with Neilson’s distorted, high pitched, scratchy vocals. The seamless transitions from peppy space beats, to the dark and heavy solo shredding of a psych rock warrior, make UMO stand out from other bands in it’s class. The perfect mix of washed out, warped sounds of the sixties, and progressive distorted warped finger pickings of the future.
Neilson made his guitar turn into a machine gun that produced face melting sounds,  Portrait kept a steady bass line  through the odd twists and turns of the songs, and talented, teenage Ehrlich brought through another layer of crunchy poetic distortions to music. These are three very talented musicians who are making unique discoveries using the past and future simultaneously. Rumor has it, that UMO will be returning to California shortly to being shooting a new music video. I can’t wait to see more of these guys in the future.


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