The Sampler

Tuesday 26 May 2015, with Nick Bollinger & Melody Thomas

The Sampler: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Little Lapin, Ryley Walker

UMO Multi Love Dusdin Condren
Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Photo by Dusdin Condren.

This week in The Sampler Melody Thomas reviews a significant third album from Oregon-based New Zealander Ruban Nielson's Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the full-length debut of U.K. singer-songwriter Little Lapin, while Nick Bollinger uncovers the neo-folk-jazz of Ryley Walker.


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Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Melody Thomas reviews a significant third album from Oregon-based New Zealander Ruban Nielson's Unknown Mortal Orchestra.


UMO Multi Love When visited in his basement studio in Portland late last year,  ex-Mint Chick and Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) frontperson Ruban Neilson mentioned his next UMO album might be the best thing he’d ever done. He was right. As the title suggests Multi-Love is an album about relationships in all their complex incarnations, and at the heart of this album lie a couple of Neilson’s own. The first is a reuniting of Ruban and his brother Kody after their 2012 falling out, the other is an autobiographical tale of polyamory with all its' maddening, wonderful bones laid bare. Never short of ideas - Neilson's first two UMO albums were full of them  though left the impression that, had more time been allowed, they would have felt more complete. This time round Neilson spent eight months molding Multi-Love to sound exactly as he’d imagined - and none of that time was squandered.

Songs Featured: Can’t Keep Checking My Phone, Like Acid Rain, The World is Crowded, Multi Love, Puzzles, Necessary Evil, Stage or Screen.

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Primrose Green by Ryley Walker

Nick Bollinger uncovers the neo-folk-jazz of Rock River's Ryley Walker.


Ryley Walker Primrose GreenRyley Walker is a twenty-five year-old singer and guitarist who lives in Chicago. He started out in his teens playing punk and experimental music but has ended up in a very different place. His new album took me straight back to the late sixties, when bands like Pentangle were forging their original fusion of folk and jazz.

Walker is an excellent acoustic guitarist with a muscular, rhythmically refined style, reminiscent of John Fahey, Davey Graham and Bert Jansch. On All Kinds Of You, his solo debut from last year, he often seemed to be paying explicit homage to one or other of this progressive-folk trinity, but his new album steps away from solo virtuoso mode, setting the guitar at the centre of a group that includes a swinging section of jazzy drums and double bass, piano, cello and occasional vibraphone, with an increasing emphasis on Walker’s voice. I’d bet money that he’s been listening to the records John Martyn made in the early-70s and there’s more than a trace of Tim Buckley here too, though he  doesn’t have the extraordinary pipes of a Buckley.

While it is tempting to hear Primrose Green as an exercise in retro – something that is encouraged by the quasi-60s cover design - there is actually nothing old-fashioned about it. Rather, Walker has gone back to a style that was outlined and abandoned, to see if there is somewhere further that style can still be taken. He finds there is.

Songs Featured: Primrose Green, Love Can Be Cruel, Griffiths Buck Blues, Same Mibds, All Kinds Of You, Summer Dress

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Remember The Highs by Little Lapin

Melody Thomas listens to the call of U.K. songbird Little Lapin


Little Lapin Remember the HighsRemember the Highs is the full-length debut from Little Lapin, the childhood nickname-turned-musical-moniker of New Zealand-based UK singer songwriter Lucy Hill. While she’s been writing songs for a decade, we first met Little Lapin in 2013 when her debut EP pricked up some ears here and abroad. And Remember the Highs picks up where that EP left off - an elaboration more than an evolution, but a very welcome one.

Songs Featured: Magnet Eyes, In My Mind, Go Stop Go, Remember the Highs

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Coming Up on The Sampler

7:30 pm Tuesday 2 June: The Sampler

Nick Bollinger reviews the latest collection from Wellington stalwarts The Warratahs and the debut of young Malian quartet Songhoy Blues, and Melody Thomas discusses debut albums from Las Vegas shapeshifter Shamir and Irish singer-songwriter Soak.