Unknown Mortal Orchestra - IC-01 Hanoi - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - IC-01 Hanoi

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-10-26
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - IC-01 Hanoi
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - IC-01 Hanoi

New Zealanders Unknown Mortal Orchestra is one of those bands with which you can always expect the unexpected. Or, should I say the unknown? After each of their first four albums critics and fans keep on adding adjectives to describe them, always starting with the psychedelic, but the list seems to be constantly growing.

They already had an album out earlier this year (Sex & Food), so to keep the unknown and unexpected tag intact, here they come with another, surprise one, IC-01 Hanoi. Furthermore, their characteristic vocals are nowhere to be heard here, it is an all instrumental affair.

Usually, in the case of such ’surprise’ albums, it is either a contractual obligation, a throw-away fun affair, or something really good that the artist decided that it had to be released anyway. Based on what is to be heard here, I’m certain that the band and their guests had real fun recording it, but it is in no way a throwaway affair.

Recorded in Hanoi, Vietnam, as the title says, the seven tracks (Hanoi 1-7), are all live in the studio recordings that included the local musician Minh Nguyen and Chris Nielson, main man Reuben Nielsen’s father. All were practically recorded at the same time as the sessions for Sex & Food.

But they do form a body of work that belongs together and separate from the previous album, not only with the place where they were recorded, or that they were all-instrumental, but that Nielsen has added yet another genre notch to the band's repertoire - Jazz. Along with their, psych, krautrock and avant-garde inclinations in general, UMO has tapped into the rich vein of Miles Davis explorations that started with In A Silent Way from 1969 and lasted up to Dark Magus from 1977.

This is particularly characteristic and impressive on the tracks where Nielsen’s father takes part with his flugelhorn and sax (Hanoi 5 and 6). But the other tracks in no way lag behind - from the noisy burst of “Hanoi 1”, to Can in their best form sounds of “Hanoi 2” to Vietnamese folk impressions of “Hanoi 3” and all else on other tracks that fancied the band’s imagination at the time when they played and recorded these sounds.

IC-01 Hanoi simply confirms that Unknown Mortal Orchestra are sticking to their exploratory guns and there are some truly great sounds to be heard from them. Known or unknown.


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