Sex & Food is a real shapeshifter. Dead-serious themes — and yet, somehow resistant to the darkness. Vibrant, future music full of inventive, drum-machine funk. The record is doomy, thrash rock in one hot breath; a pink-hued disco in the next. Even in its title, Sex & Food focuses on two of the most undeniably pleasurable experiences in life; positivity despite the strangeness of our times. It was recorded across the globe, from Unknown Mortal Orchestra mastermind Ruban Nielsen’s basement studio in Portland to Seoul and Hanoi; from Reykjavik to Mexico City (just as 2017’s massive earthquake hit); to Nielsen’s home country of New Zealand. It is a practical musical travelogue, traversing the world as well as a wide spectrum of human experience. Nielson grapples with new, sometimes dismal realities, but succeeds in pulling the epiphanies from the chafe.
The first single, “American Guilt,” today comes with a wild-ass animated video by Greg Sharp. Nielson recently revealed a bit of “American Guilt”’s concept and creation for us:
“‘American Guilt’ is an attempt to capture some of the feelings floating around these days. In a perverse way I wanted to embrace this abandoned genre of rock music that I keep reading is ‘dead’ and invite people to hear what this living dead genre sounds like in the UMO universe. It was recorded in Hanoi, Vietnam during monsoon season in a studio built for traditional Vietnamese music. Additional recording was done in Mexico City but our sessions were interrupted by one of the devastating earthquakes that occurred there last year. As we slept in the Parque de Mexico, unable to get back to our AirBnB, we heard a man yell ‘Viva la Mexico!’ and I put this in the song out of respect for them.”