Unknown Mortal Orchestra have shared their annual Christmas track for 2021: a sprawling, pseudo-tropical slow-burner titled ‘SB-09’.
The instrumental song is, as its title suggests, the ninth instalment of the New Zealand psych-rockers’ yearly ‘SB’ series. But despite its towering length, year’s edition actually comes as one of the series’ shortest – for reference, ‘SB-03’ is the shortest, clocking in around 12 minutes, while ‘SB-05’ takes the cake for the longest with its runtime nearing 28 minutes.
For the first passage of ‘SB-09’, UMO frontman Ruban Nielson plays a warbly, droning guitar run flickered with hints of surf-rock and reggae, while a distorted phaser hums along in the background. It cuts to a cleaner, more blissful chunk of acoustic noodling around four minutes in, before the song is broken up by a foreign conversation and some barking dogs.
From there we get a breezy, sun-kissed section of jaunty reggae-rock, with the song ending on an outro passage spanning a little over six minutes. In it, the aforementioned phaser returns to buzz over the foreign group from the earlier interlude.
Have a listen to ‘SB-09’ below:
The new song comes as UMO’s third for 2021, following the standalone singles ‘Weekend Run’ (which landed back in June) and ‘This Life’ (which followed in August). The group also minted a remix of Arlo Parks’ track ‘Too Good’, which she described as “a sense of intimate, hypnotic hurt”.
‘Weekend Run’ ended a short hiatus for the band, whose last release before it was the 2018 album ‘IC-01 Hanoi’. Outside of their own releases, though, UMO have kept busy featuring on numerous tracks by other artists, such as Free Nationals‘ ‘Beauty & Essex’ in 2019, and Aminé‘s ‘Buzzin’ in 2020. The band also featured as part of Gorillaz‘s ‘Song Machine’ series last year, appearing on the track ‘Severed Head’ alongside GoldLink.