Ruban Nielson's Unknown Mortal Orchestra has scored the Taite Music Prize 2012 for their self titled debut album.
The musician from Auckland, who lives now in Portland, Oregon, recorded the album himself after his former band The Mint Chicks broke up two years ago.
The award winner was announced tonight at the The Loft, Q Theatre in Auckland. Nielson wasn't at the ceremony but addressed the audience via a video message. He said receiving the prize made him feel very appreciated and promised to spend the $10,000 wisely.
"I will probably be spending the money on health insurance and making another album," he said.
Nielson created the tracks as an "escape hatch to a new musical dimension where his vision of junkshop-record-collector pop could be realised in a sound that recalled Captain Beefheart, Sly Stone and RZA jamming on some kids TV theme too dark to ever be broadcast".
After releasing UMO's first single Ffunny Ffriends, a psychedelic track with snarling guitars and a charming lo-fi flair on the internet, the project soon found fans from all around and subsequently secured a deal with a record label.
The Taite Music Prize, in a similar vein to international accolades like the British Mercury Prize, recognises outstanding creativity for an entire album.
The voting panel to determine the finalists was made up of a broad section of music media/industry specialists plus all current members of Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ).
The judges made their decision based entirely on the artistic merit of the album. Sales, genres, artist recognition or popularity are not contributing factors in their decision making process.