NOMO were conceived in 2003 when University of Michigan jazz studies graduate and multi-instrumentalist (tenor sax, keyboards, electric mbiri) Elliot Bergman and some of his acquaintances began jamming at an Ann Arbor, MI, house where many of them lived. This led to the eventual formation of the group, which recorded its self-titled EP on Ypsilanti Records that same year, after producer Warn Defever dared Bergman to bring as many people as he could to the studio.
In 2004 the band (which, with album and live appearance combined, has had over 60 contributors) issued a full-length record of the same name. NOMO's mix of African beats, avant-garde jazz, and funk caught the attention of California's Ubiquity Records, who soon signed them. With a core lineup that included Bergman, Erik Hall (guitar, Nu-Tone cymbals), Jamie Register (bass, vocals), Dan Piccolo (drums), Dan Bennett (baritone sax), Justin Walter (trumpet), Olman Piedra (congas, cajon, shekere), and Ingrid Racine (trumpet), NOMO released New Tones in 2006, Ghost Rock in 2008, and Invisible Cities under a year later