Unknown Mortal Orchestra share new single ‘I Killed Captain Cook’

The band's first new music for the year is an acoustic cut that arrives alongside a video starring frontman Ruban Nielson's mother

Unknown Mortal Orchestra have shared their first new music for the year, a single titled ‘I Killed Captain Cook’ that arrives alongside a video starring frontman Ruban Nielson’s mother.

The acoustic ballad is told from the perspective of the Hawaiian who killed British explorer and coloniser Captain James Cook, after he attempted to kidnap and ransom Hawaiian chief Kalaniʻōpuʻu in 1779. According to a press release, Nielson’s mother would tell him the story as a child with pride.

“I wrote this song for my mother, who is a legendary hula dancer and native Hawaiian,” Nielson wrote on social media when sharing the song. “I made the video with my super 8 camera; my mum, my daughter, and I went to the beach at Keaukaha in Hilo, Hawaii, where mum interpreted the song in her language of hula. After some light warm rain, I ran my camera and captured this moment.”

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According to press materials, ‘I Killed Captain Cook’ is the first preview of a forthcoming double album Unknown Mortal Orchestra will release in 2023. The track follows two standalone singles the band released in 2021 – ‘That Life’ and ‘Weekend Run’.

The band’s last full-length was 2018’s ‘Sex & Food’. In a three-star review, NME said the album sees UMO “pushing their sound impressively, bending the rule book as crudely as they can before the spine breaks”.

Since ‘Sex & Food’ was released, UMO have shared a cover of David Bowie‘s ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ and remixed the likes of Soccer Mommy, Westerman and Arlo Parks. They’ve also shared a string of lengthy instrumental ambient tracks, the most recent being ‘SB-09’ last year.

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