Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



May 28, 2015

Maria Bello's book *Whatever... Love Is Love*

Remember Maria Bello? The bi actress who had a piece in the New York Times in late 2013 about the success of her lesbian relationship while she and her husband are co-parenting their kid?

Now she has expanded her story into a book, Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves. It's getting good attention. She was just interviewed about it on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Excerpt:


When I decided to write the Times article it was before Thanksgiving of 2013 and it was after my son's dad's 50th birthday party. And [my partner] Clare and Jack and [my son's father] Dan were there; my parents had flown in from Philly; my brother was there; all of Dan's family. And I looked around this room and I thought, "There is so much love here and there are so many of my partners in this room, and that love is fluid and no matter how our relationships change, that love is always the same." So I was just proud of my modern family and I wanted to share that with the world....

On co-parenting with her son's father

It's so complicated for a family to shift around and the truth is, life is fluid, relationships are fluid, they are not static. As much as we want to hold onto an idea of what they're supposed to be, people grow and change and often in different directions, and then what do we do with that? Some people just throw out, throw out the love. Some people can make it work....


Read the rest of the summary (May 27, 2015).

Listen to the interview (16:27):

● Today she appeared on ABC-TV's The View (May 28).

● Video interview from GLAAD All Access (May 5) as featured on SheWired:



Forbes magazine covered a book party (May 1).

● At The Daily Beast: "I'm a Sexual 'Whatever' " (May 5).

● She's interviewed  in Canada's national daily paper The Globe & Mail (May 7).

● A friendly interview at the Salt Lake Magazine website, during her visit to a fundraiser in Salt Lake City (May 17).

● In Edge Boston: Out Actress Maria Bello on Being A "Whatever" (May 10).

Google up more recent appearances in the news (in reverse chronological order).

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Oakland's "Looks Like Love to Me" triad on German TV


"A few months back we were interviewed by two TV companies," writes Dani of the triad that's making the Looks Like Love To Me documentary "– one in the US (ABC Nightline) and one in Germany. They were about a week apart from each other, and finally one has launched. The German one!


"They were a really lovely crew and spent the day with us at our house and Lake Merritt. Always impressed with how editors must take a full day or two of filming and get it down to a few minutes – but they succeed! In this filming you can hear some of the English behind the German – but I have yet to find a subtitle option."

Watch it on the show's German webpage on RTV (May 28, 2015). If the video there (3:48) won't play, try it in another browser.

Their post about the show.

Their website. As I wrote about last week, they're making their own feature-length documentary to be released in the spring of 2016.

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Washington Post: "I’m into building deep and loving relationships that add to the joy and aliveness of being human."


Front and center on the Washington Post's website this morning is "Married, but not monogamous," about the open-relationship trend and the rapid success of the new dating site Open Minded. The Post published the story two days ago on the front page of the paper's Style section and also on the web. Presumably it's the lead item on the website two days later because it made the list of the site's most-read stories. It's the only one of the top five that's not a news article.

Pepper Mint tweeted, "Somehow manages to not mention polyamory."


How to break free from monogamy without destroying marriage

Illustration by Edel Rodriguez
By Caitlin Dewey

...Open Minded isn’t quite like Ashley Madison, the unapologetic dating-for-cheaters service that expects a billion-dollar valuation when it launches its impending IPO. It also isn’t quite like mobile hook-up app Tinder, where — according to one recent report — as many as 40 percent of “singles” are secretly . . . not.

Instead, says Brandon Wade, the site’s pragmatic, MIT-educated founder, Open Minded is a new kind of dating site for a newly mainstream lifestyle: one in which couples form very real attachments, just not exclusively with each other. He expects swingers, polysexuals and experimental 20-somethings to use his site. But he guesses that most of his 70,000 users are people like Jessie: Those in committed, conventional relationships, who realize that, statistically speaking, few modern couples stay with a single person their whole lives.

...In 2010, Jessie approached her husband with an idea she called “ethical non-monogamy.” They would stay together as each other’s primary, lifelong partners, but they wouldn’t rule out other relationships — as long as they happened openly. Jessie has shown her husband her profile on several dating sites, including Open Minded. When she returns from her weekly date with one of her four extramarital partners, she tells him as much, or as little, as he likes.

...More and more women will make this choice or consider it, [relationship researcher Helen] Fisher expects; it’s in keeping with decades of widespread social change and women’s empowerment. Just 30 years ago, when Jessie was in her 20s, the average woman married at 23 and had her first child within the year. Her mother’s generation didn’t even leave the home. The majority simply raised kids, preached chastity and finger-waved their hair.

“That’s all sliding away from us,” Fisher said. “We’re shedding all these agricultural traditions . . . [and] returning to the way we were millions of years ago.”

Internal data from Open Minded would appear to back that up: Thus far, most of its self-declared “monogamish” users are under 33....


Read the whole article (May 26, 2015).

Conservatives are unhappy. Newsbusters ("exposing and combating liberal media bias") writes, WashPost Promotes the 'Evolution' of 'Forsaking Monogamy':


This being the Post, there is no space for critics of the "evolution" of online adultery Web sites or their users. [Author Caitlin] Dewey promoted the “non-monogamous dating site Open Minded,” where her married female subject, Jessie, advertised, “I’m into building deep and loving relationships that add to the joy and aliveness of being human.” She talked her husband into “ethical non-monogamy.”

The Post also used the term “monogamish,” the cutesy term of radical gay sex columnist Dan Savage to describe the married-but-cheating lifestyle....


I have problems with some actual sloppy journalism that should never have made it into the Post. First, Dewey says (unsourced), "Just consider the number of married men who have partners outside of their marriage — more than 40 percent in the United States." I might believe that 40 percent will have some kind of affair or fling or sex-worker transaction sometime in their entire marriages (though the numbers quoted for that are actually all over the map) — but 40 percent of American husbands "have partners outside of their marriage" right now? Send that lady back to science reporting class!

Second, read this takedown posted by yr_mom on reddit/r/polyamory:


What a horseshit article.

"In the caveman days, humans teamed up in non-exclusive pairs to protect their children. Later, as people learned to plant crops and settle in one place, marriage became a way ... for women — who couldn’t push heavy plows or carry loads of crops to market — to eat and keep a roof over their heads."

Has this author ever seen a photo of a modern-day African woman? They do all the plowing and carrying loads of crops to market -- in addition to hauling water and firewood and raising the children. Marriage doesn't exist because women are/were in need of big strong men to do the farming.

Link: Women do over 50% of the "agricultural activity" and produce 60-70% of the food in modern-day Sub-Saharan Africa


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Meanwhile, Bustle continues its open-relationship pieces with What Are Open Relationship Rules Like? Negotiating Non-Monogamous Boundaries, In 8 Steps. These are not rules but actual good advice, IMO, for things to talk about when having these discussions. Looks like the writer has been reading poly literature.

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Lastly, Dan Savage just posted about a word distinction to keep in mind:


Polyamorous relationships and open relationships are two different things. Some poly relationships are open, but many poly relationships are closed — that is, three people (or more) are involved with each other exclusively.... The reverse is also true: Not all open relationships are poly. Two people in an open relationship may allow fucking around with other people with the understanding that there will be no dating or — God forbid — falling in love with anyone else.


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May 27, 2015

Coming out poly while gay: "This revelation I am more fearful about"

The Guardian

The gay world is becoming less scared to show acceptance of polyamory, but it still has a ways to go. And, like straights, many still don't get the concept.

This coming-out declaration appeared yesterday on the website of the UK's big mainstream liberal newspaper. It's gotten hundreds of comments and thousands of shares and is making its way around the webs.


Dating two people at once: why I'm polyamorous and proud

Simon Copland was 16 when he came out as gay. Now – with two partners – he faces a much more difficult coming out

James, Martyn and Simon: ‘There is no limit to the amount of
love we can feel.’ (Photo: Simon Copland)

By Simon Copland

This is my coming out story. My second one. When I was 16 years old, I first came out as gay.

Coming out then was hard but this time is much harder. This revelation is something I am more fearful about, but I have to come out.

I am polyamorous.

I am dating two people at the same time – James and Martyn. They are both fully aware of and happy with the arrangement and are able to follow suit by dating or having sex with other people if they wish (as am I).

...Over the past year I have faced the same anxiety and fears as I did as a nervous gay teen. But coming out as poly has required vastly more explanation – not only have I faced the fear of people reacting badly, I have faced a barrage of questions about “how it works”. So here is the simple explanation....

-----------------------

The biggest emotional challenge, however, has been the social barriers we’ve encountered. Along with the questions we’ve faced, James, Martyn and I have all faced a range of prejudice – even from those I consider to have progressive social and political values.

Unlike many others I have been very lucky. I have not lost my children, nor lost any friends or family, owing to my relationship status. But our collective coming out has been met with differing levels of hostility, derision and bewilderment.

Martyn, for example, has been told by friends that he should “be careful” that I’m not “using him”. I have had many insinuate – openly or otherwise – that I am being selfish, judging me for the way I am “treating James”. More commonly though, I have often been told how “weird” my relationships are; a subtle form of judging that follows me wherever I go.

I am not surprised by this but it hurts. And it definitely confuses. Polyamory is based on the simple principle that love is limitless. To me there is little more beautiful than that. Yet even from those who consider themselves to be “lovers, not haters” we have often faced derision and discrimination.

That is why, despite my reservations, I – like many in my community – feel an ever-greater need to be out. I write this explanation as a call to embrace poly people and our relationships....

Acceptance for me would mean making sure Martyn is treated as a full member of my family and friendship group (just as James has been), talking to me about him as one would about James, and not overwhelming me with questions about “how it works” (I don’t mind the odd question but it does get tiring). Many have already done this, but it is not something I should have to ask for. We’re not any stranger than anybody in a monogamous relationship and it would be nice to be treated like that. Relationships are infinitely diverse.

I am polyamorous and I am proud.


Read the whole article (May 26, 2015).

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May 26, 2015

A harsh rollercoaster of poly lessons: *The Husband Swap,* by Louisa Leontiades




A book is often bigger than the book itself. It may spread its ideas to millions of people who will never open it — through media coverage, author appearances, and buzz. The buzz really spreads if the book symbolizes some new idea, or discovery, or lesson that's easily talked about — boosted by media attention and the air of importance that the book's existence implies.

Louisa Leontiades
Louisa Leontiades's memoir The Husband Swap: A true story of unconventional love (second edition) has been out for less than a month, and sales can't amount to much yet. But already she has reached millions of people through media coverage of her story. More on that below.

The book's talkworthy Big Idea, however, will be quite different to different people.

Leontiades is a polyactivist writer, a widely published blogger, and chair of the National Polyamory Association in Sweden. The Husband Swap is the story of the tumultuous, catastrophically failed quad that introduced her and her husband to poly, broke four hearts and two marriages, and set her on the way toward her current joyous poly life with two men and two children.

This is Thorntree Press's heavily edited remake of the book's first edition, self-published in 2012, which was frankly an overlong first draft. As the title implies, it's the tale of two couples who combined into an unstable polycule that fissioned into two new couples flying off in different directions. Or in the poly reaction patterns described by Deborah Anapol two decades ago, a case of 2 + 2 => 2 + 2. The book unsparingly examines the volatile chemistry that took place within that reaction arrow: dazzling love, deep discovery, raging insecurities, careless bulldozing of unstated boundaries, paralyzing fear, plain nastiness (Leontiades does not spare herself in this regard), and real growth and development. This last is especially clear in the case of Louisa's nebbishy, indolent husband, who under the influence of his powerful, perfectionist bulldozer of a new partner, did a slum clearance on himself and redeveloped into the capable, successful man he should have been all along.

If you're looking for a happy poly story, this ain't it. You can see its Big Idea as being one of miserably hard trials setting brave pioneers onto better life paths with the mates they needed — or as a warning that polyamory is simply insane, and you'd be a fool to touch it.

Louisa is getting quite a bit of TV and newspaper attention, mostly in the UK where she grew up and where much of the story takes place. She is dwelling on her current excellent poly life and the message that staying true to herself and her dreams was worth it in the end.

Louisa, her current partners and daughter today. Photo: The Times (of London)

As she describes, normal people who've read the tale — or who watched the events unfold in person — were full of I-told-you-so's and are amazed that she has stuck with such a seemingly exhausting and difficult way of life. "As [a friend] trailed off trying to think of a reason [why normalcy is better]," she writes in the epilogue, "I smiled secretly to myself. You could throw anything at me now and I could undermine your argument—snap—like Miss Piggy's karate chop.

"Polyamory isn't for the faint-hearted. It can only be borne in the long term by those committed to sorting out their demons and growing almost beyond what we recognize as the basis of our humanity. But as a utopia, I still believe in it and in my life I still swear by it."

Whew.

---------------------------

Selected to write the Foreword was Noel Figart, another public poly figure who came out of an exploded quad. Figart dispenses advice as The Polyamorous Misanthrope and leads the PolyFamilies Yahoo Group, which is 15 years old this month. "The love that will allow you to avoid these mistakes," she writes at the front of the book, "is a love that involves knowledge of yourself, deep understanding of your partners, a willingness to set appropriate boundaries and a huge helping of honesty — starting with yourself.

"The polyamorous community often hears that polyamory isn't easy. That's a bit disingenuous. The reality is that good relationships of any sort aren't easy. It's not necessarily that the relationships are work. It's that good relationships require you to ruthlessly and tirelessly work on yourself.

"Read this book carefully. There are excellent lessons in it, like a lovely coral reef below turbulent waves."

---------------------------

Louisa's epilogue to The Husband Swap wasn't enough of an epilogue; there was still too much tumult. So she was moved to write a chapter-by-chapter companion guidebook to this edition: Lessons in Love and Life to My Younger Self. It's available as an e-book; the print edition comes out this fall.


Here she speaks across seven years to her beloved former self, like a mother to a child in a dark place, who of course cannot hear — not so much advising about the specific incidents in each chapter, but how to be the better, more insightful kind of person who would have known better the ways to navigate herself and shape her utopia.

The two books are so closely interrelated that I wish they were bound together. The next printing of The Husband Swap cries out to be one of those double-sided, turn-it-over books. The kind with the front and back being the front covers of two books, each ending where you hit the end of the other one printed upside down. At any point you can turn the book over like a stone, top to bottom, and read inward from the other front. The convenience of having the seven-years-later chapter reflections right at hand would be nice — but the symbolism of physically turning over the story, back and forth, would be arresting.

---------------------------

Okay, now about that media coverage. To help me get this piece posted, Thorntree Press co-publisher Eve Rickert and associate editor Roma have shared their record of the book's publicity so far. Here it is (with a few additions):

News Stories

● Polyamory - I love you, you and you, Lea Sauer, Café Babel, October 14, 2014.

Summary: Introduces poly to a new audience. Quotes from Louisa and Christopher Gottwald, the spokesperson for the Polyamorous Network of Germany.

Quote: “A large revolution of love will likely not take place. Monogamy is the standard and will most likely remain that way for a long time. And that's also okay. Polyamorists, after all, aren't fighting against monogamy, but rather — according to Leontiades and Gottwald — for the "freedom to decide for oneself." What's most important is tolerance and acceptance for all forms of relationships. Whether monogamous or polyamorous, open or strictly faithful. After all, a little bit of openness never hurt anyone.”


● What this woman learned from opening her marriage to another couple, Dina Rickman, website of The Independent, UK. May 1, 2015.

Summary: Interview with Louisa, asking general questions about poly and other people’s perception of it. Also gives a short summary of the book.

Quote (from Louisa): “For those it offends, any change or any difference in lifestyle or inclination that threatens the norm does threaten the establishment. Many of the minority movements have basically the same battle, where their choices, simply by being different have threatened other people’s sense of their own rightness. The mind sometimes equates being right with surviving, in order to survive people like to be right.”


● The polyamorist’s diary: why I agreed to a ménage à quatre, Carol Midgley, The Times (of London), April 27, 2015. Behind paywall. Comments Louisa, "After the sensationalism, not a bad framing of polyamory."


● Interview with This Morning on ITV (UK), May 5, 2015.

The video is only viewable in the UK, but from the opening: “To most, the thought of their other half making love to someone else is unthinkable. But to Louisa Leontiades it's a pre-requisite.”



Summary: A written version of the This Morning interview. Sensationalist.  Has incorrect stuff, says Louisa.


● Me & my two boyfriends, The Sun (UK), Feb. 2, 2015. Behind paywall.

Summary: A sweet article filling a two-page spread in the print issue.

Quote: ‘When my boyfriend Christian and I arrive at the school gates to pick up my five-year-old daughter Freya, she shouts: ‘My mummy’s here! Oh and look, there’s Christian, Mummy’s special friend!’
The other parents don’t bat an eyelid, although I don’t know what they say behind closed doors. This is because I make no secret of the fact I’m in a committed relationship with not only the father of my children, Gosta, but also Christian, who I’ve been seeing for 18 months.


● Polyamour en Suède: mieux aimer... à plusieurs? French article and video; Géopolis, February 14, 2015.

Summary: Looks like a description of Louisa’s life with her two partners and children. Includes a quote from Christian’s mother (rough translation): “This is simply a way to start a family. They love each other. Christian and Gosta are friends; Louisa loves them both  it works!”

● Las grandes lecciones que aprendió esta mujer de su matrimonio 'abierto': Louisa Leontiades, presidenta del poliamor. El Confidencial (Spain), May 16, 2015.

Quote: En "The Husband Swap" ("El intercambio de marido"), su autora rememora lo que ocurrió cuando, intentando revitalizar su vida matrimonial, decidió intercambiar a su esposo con otro hombre.

● Radio interview, The Ray D’Arcy Show (Ireland).

Summary: Pretty basic questions about poly, including how they decided who would sleep with whom, and did they get jealous, etc. About 10 minutes.

On April 29th Louisa posted,



With the storm of email that's hit my inbox over the past few days thanks to The Times article, so many magazines have contacted me. I reply with a 'That would be lovely, and I'm very willing to discuss polyamory, logistics and loving relationships etc. but I won't be going into any inside the bedroom details.' And they don't say 'We respect your privacy and understand.' Instead they say, 'Sorry, we're a populist title, so if you won't discuss your sex life, Bye Bye'.




Book Reviews

● Book Review, Barry Smiler, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 18, February 21, 2015.

Summary: Positive review focusing on the relatability of the story.

Quote: “The description of these deeply personal interactions is what gives this book its power. And power it does have. As the story of the quad's journey unfolds, this book's well-crafted dialogue and characterizations offer solid insights into, not just these four people, and not just polyamorous people, but any of us, in any sort of relationship.”


● Book Review, The Sassy She, Lisa Lister, May 11, 2015.

Summary: Positive review, and interview with Louisa. Writer is in a monogamous relationships, and talks about how reading this book challenged her perception of relationships.

Quote:I’m GLAD her story challenged me, if I didn’t want to be challenged I’d read freakin’ Danielle Steel novels, right? We all need our perspectives challenged + our hearts opened by the real stories of women and their experiences. Louisa is a powerful storyteller –  emotional,  curious and crazy amounts o’ honest, and she sheds much-needed insight into a world most of us have only experienced through press stories, or if, like me you have a girl-crush on Chloe Sevigny, and have watched back to back Big Love.”


● Book Review, Polyamory on Purpose, Jessica Burde, Feb. 11, 2015.

Summary: Positive review, author relates back to her own experience.

Quote: “This is not a happy poly story. This is not a tale of how polyamory works, or how much more “advanced” polyamory is. Fans of HEA romance will likely be disappointed in both the ending and the brutally simple way Louisa tells her story, without the dramatics or flair of plot-driven fiction. Fans of polyamory will likely be disappointed in the ending of the relationship, the failure of the book to be a flag-waving paean to the wonders of poly life.”


● Book Review, The Brunette’s Blog, May 5, 2015.

Summary: Positive review, talks about how this books differs in that it doesn’t focus on what “mistakes” were made, but rather just tells the story of what happened.

Quote:While reading it, I experienced bubbles of delight and identification — at the weird-this-isn’t-weird feeling of coming down to breakfast with your lover and your husband and his lover, at the terror of falling in love when your relationship involves more people than just yourselves, at the back and forth of sympathy, anger, alliance, and threat you can feel toward a close metamour. It left me wanting more — more poly stories, more people writing about the specific feelings and situations that I know so well, that are so rarely reflected in literature. It felt so, so good to read someone telling a story that, while nothing like any of my stories, has many of the same notes and moments underlying it.”


● Book Review, Loving Without Boundaries blog, by Kitty Chambliss, April 8, 2015.

Quote: "I felt like I found a very close, dear comrade within the pages of that book – a friend who has shared some of my own heartache, pain as well as joy in choosing to live a polyamorous life, and then diving in courageously and unapologetically to see what happens next."



● A book review in Russian.


● The 6 Steamiest Books To Read On The Beach, Red, April 15, 2015.

Summary: Other authors on the list of 6 are Jackie Collins, Nancy Friday, Erica Jong, Shirley Conran and Janet Evanovich.

Quote: “This is an unusual one, but stay with us.” 


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Here are excerpts from both books.

Louisa's Facebook page.

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May 25, 2015

Dear Abby says, treat your parent's triad as family


Newspaper columnist Dear Abby (Jeanne Phillips) uses "triad" correctly. She advises a middle-aged dad that he should treat his own father's family of three as "a package deal" to be welcomed as guests, and never mind what the teenage granddaughters may think.


Dear Abby: Couple’s tag-along friend is too close for son’s comfort

I’m in my 40s, happily married to my wife, and we have teenage daughters. My parents divorced when I was young, and both have been remarried for years. Over the past 10 years, Dad and his wife have developed a very close “friendship” with a woman I’ll call “Bonnie.” They bought homes next door to each other, travel together, and expect Bonnie to be included in all holiday events. Bonnie has never been married and has no kids, so my parents reason that she would be alone if she’s not with them. I am not fond of this woman and I don’t like having to include her. My parents never ask if it’s OK if she comes; they just started bringing her years ago and assume she’s welcome. When I have brought up the subject, they got angry. Our daughters ask how we’re related to Bonnie. When I say she is Grandma and Grandpa’s friend, they roll their eyes because it falls short of describing what is probably a three-way. I’m tired of the situation. What can I do?

Fed Up in Phoenix


Dear Fed Up: Let your daughters — who are probably more worldly than either you or I — come to their own conclusions about Grandma and Grandpa. Whether they have formed a triad is anybody’s guess, but one thing is clear: They are a package deal. You might be happier if you concentrated less on what may (or may not) be going on between their sheets. The alternative would be to see your father, stepmother and this woman less often.


The original is on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle (May 22, 2015), the paper where her mother started the "Dear Abby" column in 1956. Three days later Google seems to indicate that this is the only place it has appeared. Huh? As of 2011 the "Dear Abby" column claimed to have "95 million readers in about 1,300 newspapers worldwide."

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May 20, 2015

NPR picks up on new triad-inspired album *Multi-Love*


This morning I posted about Ruban Nielson's album Multi-Love and its origin in the bedazzling triad that fate delivered him into. The album will be officially released next Tuesday, May 26, though you can stream it from various sites now.

This isn't just another Portland indie record for some small fanbase. It just received an excellent review on National Public Radio and notice on the website of The Guardian, one of the world's major newspapers.

● On NPR:


First Listen: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, 'Multi-Love'

Ruban Nielson (left) with other band members. (Photo: Dusdin Condren)

By Andy Beta

In 1967, while still in The Byrds, David Crosby wrote "Triad" about a ménage a trois, inspired by the counterculture notion of "free love." It was left off the band's next album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and became a point of contention when Crosby left the band. Recorded by Jefferson Airplane and performed later by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the song scans as overly simplistic at its chorus: "I don't really see / why can't we go on as three."

To hear New Zealand native and Portland resident Ruban Nielson sing it in "Multi-Love," the lead song on Unknown Mortal Orchestra's third album, said triad is decidedly more confusing, thorny and wrenching. Nielson's falsetto frays into a rasp and plea: "Multi-love got me on my knee / We were one then become three / Mama, what have you done to poor me / Now I'm half-crazy." Polyamory, which translates from Greek and Latin as "multi-love," lies at the heart of Nielson's album, documenting a moment in his life wherein his longtime marriage found itself opened to an outsider. Ecstatic and graceless, loving yet threatened, comforted yet alienated, Nielson explores these complex interactions on his strongest album to date.

Names aren't named, but the intimacy, awkwardness and emotional nakedness on display might have been hard to take were they not wrapped in the sweetest, catchiest, most impeccably crafted music Unknown Mortal Orchestra has made....

Previous UMO albums wandered into strange psychedelia and folk as ways into Nielson's mindstate.... But on Multi-Love, such foggy, wandering sounds wouldn't serve these songs about love and the emotional maturity needed to navigate it....


Read the whole review (May 17, 2015). At the top of it are links to the whole album (41 minutes) and the individual tracks.


● At The Guardian's online music section:


Unknown Mortal Orchestra — Multi-Love: Exclusive album stream

The band

For Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s third album, bandleader Ruban Nielson decided to do things a bit differently. We’re not just talking about the music... we’re talking about the relationship that inspired it — during the making of the album, Nielson and his wife both fell in love with another woman, who moved in with the couple before leaving them both confused and heartbroken.

That unique experience is poured into Multi-Love, only to be decorated with a futurist, technicolour pop palette. Have a listen, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.


The original (May 18). Listen and leave a comment.


Spin commentary, followed by a brief interview:


The title of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest LP, Multi-Love, may be an explicit reference to the complicated three-person live-in relationship frontman Ruban Nielson spent a year exploring, but it could just as easily be a reference to the album’s lush, layered sound. Appropriate to its name, UMO’s third album is bursting with affection for a variety of musics, both past and present: disco, power pop, prog-rock, hip-hop, and soul all among them....


Read on (May 14).

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*Multi-Love:* album inspired by an awestruck triad will be released next week

Pitchfork

Portland musician Ruban Nielson, leader of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, releases his third album on May 26th. It's Multi-Love, about the unexpectedly dazzling live-in triad that he found himself in with his wife and her girlfriend. Nielson and the story behind Multi-Love are featured in a long profile in Pitchfork, "the leading voice in independent music and beyond." Pitchfork claims "a fiercely loyal audience of more than 5 million unique visitors each month."

Update later in the morning: This is getting bigger — Multi-Love is reviewed on National Public Radio and is written up in The Guardian. More to come soon....

Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, performing in Spain in 2013.


Love Is Strange: The multitudes of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Ruban Nielson

By David Bevan

...While Multi-Love, UMO’s third full-length [album], marks a thrilling departure from the bedroom psychedelia that has earned Nielson an unexpected following, it’s also an album whose backstory speaks to the manner in which he views his art, his life, and the connection between the two — a leap of faith and a leap forward. It teems with lush synths and futurist textures, hallucinogenic funk and R&B, but emotionally and lyrically, Nielson needed a light....

After touring behind his first two albums for nearly three years, Nielson arranged to take a year off, so that he could write, record, and spend more time at home with his family. But as work on Multi-Love began in earnest last year, Nielson and his wife found themselves reconsidering the outlines of their relationship. As we eat and laugh at their tiny wooden dinner table, I’m sitting in a seat that, up until very recently, was occupied by someone else, someone whose absence is palpable and whose influence can be felt throughout the record she helped shape. “It’s not that this song is about her,” Nielson sings in the album’s hypnotic title cut. “All songs are about her.”



“I’d never heard of polyamory before and I wasn’t interested in the idea of it,” Nielson tells me after dinner, during a long walk through his neighborhood. “I just wanted to pretend that no one had ever thought of it before, to stumble into it blindly.” He scratches nervously at his chest, over a tattoo of an open eye etched between his collarbones. “I feel like I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying to live last year down. It was such a beautiful time.”

In February 2013, while exploring Tokyo on a day off from touring, Nielson wandered into a club. From across the room, he remembers spotting a strange, singularly beautiful 18-year-old woman [Laura] and then awkwardly and inexplicably waving to her the moment they made eye contact....

After taking repeated notice of their blossoming friendship, Jenny asked her husband to have Laura send along a selfie. “Wow,” she told him when it arrived. “Let me talk to her.” Nielson introduced them. Before long, Jenny and Laura started corresponding on their own — online at first, and later, through handwritten and increasingly intimate letters. It was at this point that Nielson began to worry. “They had turned into love letters,” he says. “[Jenny] told me that I could read them if I wanted to, but I didn’t and I still don’t. It’s kind of terrifying to think that she was being intimate with another person. I didn’t get angry or upset. I just thought, ‘Oh, what have I done?’”

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...Jenny approached him with a plan: Laura was going to come to stay with them for a while, and the five of them [including their two kids] would try living together.

“I had two thoughts,” Nielson says, revisiting that moment. “The first was, ‘Holy shit, I I’m fucked. I’m no match for this girl.’” His second: “‘This is fate. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. If this is the end of my marriage, then this will be the album that documents it. There are a million ways for this to go wrong for my life — but there’s no way for this to go wrong for me artistically, as long as I keep my eyes open and I’m brave.”

Nielson says what followed was like “a crazy awesome dream.” The three of them bonded almost immediately, and the kids, whose response was always a major concern, took to Laura just as quickly. “‘Let’s do this forever, this is the ultimate state of being,’” he remembers thinking, that first week they were all together.

Ruban Nielson in his basement studio in Portland. (Photo by Leah Nash).

...After those first few weeks together last May, the relationship between Jenny, Laura, and Nielson began to show signs of strain. As a relative newcomer, Laura couldn’t help but feel excluded when faced with the history and understanding that Nielson and his wife had developed over more than a decade together. But some mornings, Jenny would wake up to the sound of her husband and Laura on the couch, laughing and binge-watching a television show that they started without her. Talking about his own insecurities, Nielson says, “They would discuss something feminist, and I would just sit there, like, ‘Well, I think men are shit, too, but I’m the man in the room.’” For days, he would sulk around the house while Jenny and Laura carried on, toiling in the basement rather than confronting them both with his feelings. “Think about the two most serious relationships in your life so far, and then experiencing them simultaneously,” he tells me. “It makes you wonder: How much can a human being deal with emotionally? How well-adjusted are you?”

All of it made its way into the music, just as he had planned. In August, Laura’s tourist visa expired and she was forced to leave the States until she could obtain another. For six weeks, Nielson and his wife pined for Laura as she worked on a project in the Peruvian rainforest, while also trying to carry on with their lives....

When Laura returned in September, unannounced, Nielson was committed to the idea of continuing the relationship. They all took trips together and celebrated Halloween with the kids. They told their neighbors and close friends in Portland, a few of which reacted unfavorably, out of fear....

Shortly after last Christmas, as Laura’s visa expired again, her attempts to renew it were denied and she was forced to leave once more — this time indefinitely....

When the kids ask about Laura now, Nielson and Jenny tell them that she was forced to leave. “It just got suspended in no man’s land,” Nielson says of the relationship. “It’s brutal. The reason why she’s not here is out of our control, but we’re trying not to be maudlin about it. It’s hard to say that you’re sad because there are only two people in love now instead of three. But we were all in love. It was a real thing. It worked. I’m more alive now because of it.”...


Read the whole article (May 12, 2015), with links to more of Nielson's music.

The article got him a short writeup in newspapers in New Zealand, where he grew up and used to play in the Mint Chicks.

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