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UMO bringing psychedelic sounds to the city
By Victoria Fei

American and New Zealand rock band, will visit Shanghai for the first time tomorrow.

Composed of singer, guitarist and songwriter Ruban Nielson, bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare, the band has toured Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe.

“UMO are full of surprises. We’re sure they’ll be playing songs from their most recent album ‘II’, which just won Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards,” says Daniel Legere from Split Works, a Beijing- and Shanghai-based music promoter. “They’re keeping everything under wraps so we’re as excited as anyone else.”

The biggest highlight is the sound that frontman Nielson achieves in his recordings. He has some 15 tape recorders which he uses to achieve a classic analog sound.

“The mindset behind this tour wasn’t so much to ‘fill a gap’ in the music scene. There has been a rise in experimental and lo-fi bands here,” Legere says. “We’re having a bit of fun with this act, bringing a new sound to town and seeing how many smiles we can draw from the crowd.”

UMO’s debut self-titled album was released in June 2011. It quickly received critical acclaim. It was known for the uniquely immersive and psychedelic quality of the songs.

“The debut album marked the completion of a journey that took Nielson from a cryptic, anonymous bedroom project borne of disillusionment and private amusement, to leader of a hard-touring, hard-living band,” Legere says. “Focus, inspiration and dedication streamlined his vibrant imagination. UMO is now a mature band operating at the peak of its powers.”

The second and most recent album “II” was released last February. With an album that uses Nielson’s singular musical imagination and extraordinary talent to parade his emotions and unyielding honesty, Legere believes that audiences at the show would be captivated, and taken on a 1960s psychedelic journey that is warm and fuzzy.

The support band on tomorrow night will be Friend or Foe, a three-piece band based in Shanghai.

Their music bridges the gaps between punk, dance rock and outright audacity. With a sound full of fury and a venue-consuming stage presence, they will provide a hard counterpoint to UMO’s dreamier sound.

The effect is to both fulfill the needs of China’s music fans and to lead and to introduce new sounds from the international music industry, the promoter said. “It’s a win-win at the end of the day: Local fans get inspired by the quirks and personalities behind the music that’s trending internationally, and international artists collide with a new culture which we hope manifests in some way in their future projects.”

Date: January 15, 8:30pm

Venue: Yuyintang, 851 Kaixuan Rd

Tickets: 100 yuan at door

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