Unknown Mortal Orchestra, 'Hanoi 6' – Review
by William Jones
If you are unfamiliar with the works of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, I am not sure where you have been for the last seven years. Each album creates a unique sound and, at this point, they could release an album of Christmas carols played on the Zither and it would not be a surprise.
The New Zealand based project, led by the brains behind the project Ruban Nielson, have embarked on an exploratory musical journey since their debut in 2011. And there seems to be no stopping them. This is their second album of the year, following on from the RnB and soul-infused Sex & Food, which came out in April.
There has been little hype around this latest release, which was recorded at the same time as Sex & Food. It does not feel like an album of offcuts though, and it completely challenges anything we may have been expecting. The whole album is instrumental, featuring and was written by Nielson in Vietnam alongside local musician Minh Nguyen.
As such, the result is a series of seven disparate, moody tracks which provide a rest bite from anything else you may have heard recently. It takes you on what feels like quite a spiritual journey through soundscapes many of us are unfamiliar with.
This is certainly a different direction for the group, and I wonder if it is a signal of things to come. Even in light of the albums, Nielson has penned over the last few years, this feels like an escape for him and the group. There is certainly something to be said for this even more exploratory direction, and we will just have to wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.