The story of Unknown Mortal Orchestra is basically the story of the present-day musical hype economy. A mysterious (dare we say “unknown”?) band made a Bandcamp Web page with a single song — the above posted “Ffuny Ffriends.” Shortly thereafter, the song was broadcast far and wide on the Internet and Unknown Mortal Orchestra became 2011’s top buzz band before they were actually a band at all.
In truth, “Ffunny Ffrends” was nothing more than a bedroom experiment of Ruban Nielson, a New Zealander living in Portland already fairly famous in Kiwi music circles. After his song exploded, Nielson quickly put a band together and wrote an album’s worth of material and put it out on Fat Possum records.
The result is music that is a delight: lo-fi, funky, and delicate all at once. In many ways however, the entire appeal of the band can be summed up in that first moment of ecstasy in “Ffunny Frends” — that endlessly repetitive, hypnotic chorus melody inviting you into its fuzzed-out musical embrace.