Unknown Mortal Orchestra have released their annual Christmas track, which they have done annually since 2013. It’s called “SB-09” and it’s an almost 19-minute instrumental with bandleader Ruban Nielson’s brother Kody on drums. It’s a track, free of the commercial holiday trappings, just good, funky, tasty, and meandering guitar, fit for a basement practice room in Portland, Oregon, to satisfy the music head’s itch during the holiday.
With a few sampled breaks, perhaps the neighbors catching the band on the stairway: “But we having class too…music.” A drone under peals of laughter, at a neighborhood party. They capture the feeling of camaraderie and celebration that happens around this time of year. “Here we know that Christmas will be clear and bright / The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night,” a youth sings to end the piece.
With its extended length, the song plays as a little montage, like snippets of four or five songs, showcasing Nielson’s penchant for dreamy, psychedelic rock and perhaps to satisfy the need for something like an album in between albums. In releasing it, he also satisfies the need for human presence during this Covid Christmas: a man and his licks, and man and his neighbors, and man and the music that has comforted his and others’ lonely souls for ten plus years.
Since their 2018 album Sex & Food and instrumental record IC-01 Hanoi, they have released two singles this past summer, “Weekend Run” and “That Life.” This track is put out on Jagjaguwar and hopefully is a harbinger of more music to come in early 2022 from Ruban and the band.