“Full of brilliance and charm” The Observer
“Sizzles with late night city thrills” The Times
Since their inception in 2009, the genre-defying Submotion Orchestra have moved seamlessly between deep electronica, jazz, soul and ambient downtempo, mesmerising audiences from Iceland to India. Their unique music is at once delicate and heavy, spacious and dense, highly atmospheric but firmly rooted. Earth-shaking bass and drums combine with lush keyboard and trumpet textures to create the perfect backdrop for the fragile beauty of Ruby Wood’s vocals, and the celestial effects of producer Ruckspin.
Formed in Leeds in 2009, the band quickly made a splash on the wider scene. Their live gigs left audiences open-mouthed, and their debut EP on Ranking Records drew a rave reaction from Gilles Peterson who quickly gave the band their first Radio 1 session. Their now-legendary weekly residency at the tiny Hukaz Bar in Leeds gave fans the unique opportunity to see the band create new material up-close and personal.
The band’s first full-length album, Finest Hour became an instant cult classic on its 2010 release, receiving strong support from DJs such as 6 Music's Mista Jam and Trevor Nelson. Follow up album Fragmentsin 2012 continued to build their fanbase with sell out tours in the UK and Europe, and received heated enthusiasm from fans, DJs and critics alike for the variety of its sound, spending a week at number 1 in the iTunes chart, while appearances followed at some of Europe’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury,Bestival, The Big Chill, Pohoda and Outlook.
The band's second album Fragments followed in 2012, receiving heated enthusiasm from fans and critics alike for the variety of its sound. Radio support came from such diverse presenters as Pete Tong, Huey,Lauren Laverne and Don Letts, demonstrating Submotion’s unique cross-genre appeal. Fragments spent a week at number 1 in the iTunes charts, and the supporting tour climaxed with a sold out show at London’s legendary venue Koko.
Demand for the band had never been greater, as their reputation for staging one of the most exciting shows around grew with each appearance they made. 2013 saw them release the 1968 EP on Circus Records, which saw their champions grow to include i-D, Noisey, and Clash. The band also performed for international fans in France, Poland, Germany, Turkey, Croatia, and the Netherlands, as well as in the UK. Somehow - perhaps inspired by the whirlwind of energy around them – they found time to write their third album.
Alium was a dazzlingly eclectic record that showcased every aspect of the band’s myriad talents. Thanks to producer Ruckspin's deft touch, it also remains a satisfyingly coherent artist statement. Counter Records leapt at the chance to release it, signing the band in summer 2014. Released that autumn, it garnered fantastic support at radio and superb reviews, with Mixmag proclaiming it “drenched in sunshine,” and Clash pointing to a band who seem able “stop time, their uniquely chilled grooves retaining a zen-like peace.”
The 2013 EP release 1968 on Circus Records was followed by third album Alium, a dazzlingly eclectic record that showcased every aspect of the band’s myriad talents. Counter Records leapt at the chance to release it in Autumn 2014, with Mixmag proclaiming it “drenched in sunshine,” Clash remarking that it “stops time, their uniquely chilled grooves retaining a zen-like peace”, and the New York Times premiering it a week ahead of its international release.
The group’s reputation for stunning live performances grew with further UK and European tours, headlining the 6000-capacity Pula ampitheatre at the Outlookfestival and sold-out shows at the Barbican Theatre (for the London Jazz Festival) and The Forum. Their song ‘Perfection’ was sampled for Young Jeezy’s Seen it All album, which went to number 2 in the US album charts, whilst Bryson Tiller’s monster hit ‘Right My Wrongs’ made memorable use of ‘All Yours’. Instrumental EP III moved their sound to more electronic realms, whilst critically-acclaimed fourth albumColour Theory found the band collaborating with artists such as Royce Wood Jr., Andrew Ashong and Catching Flies, with their momentum reaching a notable peak with a headline show at the legendary Royal Albert Hall.
Now Submotion Orchestra’s fifth studio album Kites sees the band gloriously return to the smoky, jazz infused electronica which made Finest Hour the cult record that it has now become. A writing period of several months followed by a week of live jamming culminated with live recording at Cornwall’s boutiqueCube Studios. As with all great albums, the process is as interesting as the product. Musical director Tommy Evans explains:
‘In the last two years there have been a number of significant personal events for us all, including new life and family death. Using these events as creative inspiration, we each bought a disposable camera and took photos based on the themes these events represented, selecting 10 photos to be used as the inspiration for the 10 tracks on the album. Each track explores a different emotion, theme or event. All are honest, relevant and often hugely personal.’ Pianist Taz Modi continues:
‘WithColour Theory, we had taken our sound as far towards programmed electronica as we felt comfortable. Kites marks a return to how we made our early records – writing together and arranging tunes whilst playing in the same room, and so on this album all the basic tracks were recorded live in the studio.’
Honesty is something rare in music, and all too often bands find themselves trying to second guess their audience or label. Kites is emphatically not that. This is an album brimming with honesty, integrity and beauty.
Thursday 14th February 2019
Price: Doors 19:30