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      July 23, 2018

      Monday   9:00 PM

      134 West Front Street
      Missoula, Montana 59802

      Unknown Mortal Orchestra

      with Kevin Krauter
      Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielsons fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Fooda delightfully shapeshifting album that filters these real-deal serious themes through a vibrant sonic lens that spans battered drum-machine funk, doomy and thrashing rock, and pink-hued psychedelic disco. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex & Food is a practical musical travelogue.Over the last decade, Nielsons established himself as one of the most inventive sonic travelers currently working, and Sex & Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of Hunnybee to the stomping flange of Major League Chemicals. The adventurousness is all the more impressive considering that theres a bit of DNA from the past UMO discography in Sex & Food: the soft-focus psych of the projects 2011 debut LP, the lovely melancholia of 2013s II, and the weirded-out funk of 2015s virtuosic Multi-Love.But rather than living in the past, Nielson is firmly in the here and now, drawing from personal unrest and generational malaise while surveying a variety of societal ailments. If Youre Going to Break Yourself and Not in Love Were Just High chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics Ministry of Alienation drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the songs structure: My thinking is done by your machine/ Cant escape the 20th century. Its a scary world out there, and its been that way for a whileand Sex & Food finds Nielson surveying the damage while attempting to reckon with the magnitude of it all.Along with UMO bandmates and frequent collaborators Jacob Portrait and Kody Nielson, Ruban began work on Sex & Food in early 2016, initially intending to draw musical influence from post-punk luminaries of his youththink Killing Joke or Public Image Limiteds singular Flowers of Romance. But as he toiled, Ruban began to realize the aesthetic limits of his aims. Post-punk is so tasteful to my generation, he states. Theres no guilty pleasure to itI just think its cool and good. When it comes to rock, I want to get into dodgier territory.So Ruban exited his comfort zone, literally: even though some of Sex & Food was recorded in his Portland, Oregon home studio (the same one that adorns Multi-Loves cover), his desire to get out of there, as he puts it with a chuckle, led to a quest for creative inspiration that literally spanned the globefrom Reykjavik to Mexico City, as well as the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, where Ruban was inspired to draw influence from the imagery of the Vietnam-based films of his youth, as well as the powerful images conjured by Jimi Hendrixs recording of All Along the Watchtower. It was just like I hoped it would be, he gushes about the city. Its really hard to record thereeverything is so humidbut it was a really inspiring place, too.At one point in their travels, the recording process was interrupted while in Mexico City, as Ruban and bandmate Jacob Portrait were trapped in the citys Chapultepec Park following the devastating earthquake that hit Central Mexico this past year. I was terrified, he states about the experience, which cut off their access not only to the studio but to their lodgings. I was so shaken up that I ended up getting a bunch of stuff done when I left, Nielson explains on the effect that the experience had on Sex and Foods creative genesis.And his journey eventually led him to a curious but fruitful fount of inspiration: his past work. At first, I thought that this was going to be a sad record, like II, he explains when discussing how reflection helped push Sex & Food forward. I was influenced enough by my own early stuff that I went into it thinking, If I was a fan, how would I want to bring some of that back into what Im doing? That old-becomes-new approach is more than apparent on the lush, beautifully understated Hunnybee, reminiscent of IIs Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) and drawing lyrical inspiration from Rubans daughter, whose middle name gave 'Hunnybee' its title. I was trying to figure out how to write a love song about my daughter, he states. Shes seven now, but the song will still be there when shes a woman, so I was thinking about encoded fatherly instructions. I thought it was cool to say, Theres no such thing sweeter than a sting. It makes her the protagonistshe can kill you! I thought that was good. The other line was Dont be such a modern stranger, because I was thinking about what if the world is more atomized and isolated as she gets older?Indeed, the modern worldand all the thorny complications that come with living in itloomed large on Rubans mind while making Sex & Food. More specifically, the act of reaching for something positive from the negativity. This is reflected in the album's title. "In America the classic pairing is sex and violence and I never understood it. Violence: an anomaly and an abomination. Something that could disappear from the world, leaving it a better place. Sex: just a normal and natural thing. The pairing for me has always been sex and food. The last and best pleasures that are left. More fundamental and relatable than even music. But even though hes not afraid to get topical throughoutas evidenced on the surprisingly boisterous American Guilt or the roomy-disco medication-meditation Everyone Acts Crazy NowadaysRuban was also careful not to get too political, and for good reason. Everything is so soaked in politics, and its kind of depressing for everything to be political right now, he explains. I wanted to keep it light. I think everyones feeling angry, and theres nothing particularly interesting about my anger.A statement of selflessness, to be surebut make no mistake: Sex & Food reaffirms the vitality of Rubans voice in todays musical landscape, and when it comes to navigating the strange and often discouraging pathways our societys taken, it makes for a damn fine compass, too.

      Cost: 22.00

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