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Submotion Orchestra Comes to KOKO.

| Music | 19/11/2013

Submotion Orchestra

On the 15th November, Camden’s KOKO hosted the remarkable sounds of Submotion Orchestra promoting their new EP 1968. This seven-piece band formed four years ago in the city of Leeds has acquired quite the dedicated following – and for good reason too. The band returned to KOKO on Friday following their sell out show in 2012 which was promised to be ‘an experience neither your mind nor your body are likely to forget’. To learn, therefore, that my name had been accidentally missed off the guest list, I watched with rising concern as the elated crowds poured in.

Once the mistake had been quickly resolved, I made my way into Camden’s celebrated music venue to see hundreds of animated fans filling every tier of the converted theatre. The crowd was surprisingly diverse, with people of all ages turning out to hear Submotion’s new releases. Supported by the recently signed Electronic Soul Duo The Equals (watch out for their new EP, set for release in 2014), the crowd were suitably warmed up for the main act.

Submotion Orchestra delivered at KOKO in 2012 and certainly did so again this year. Blending various components of jazz, soul, electronica and dub, the group created exhilarating music with haunting undertones, complimented stunningly by Ruby Wood’s strong but silky vocals. Despite minimal movement on stage, the performance remained dynamic notably as a result of Wood’s confident stage presence. The band’s set up was simple but effective, positioned with an eclectic collection of masterfully played instruments in an arc around the lead singer, the group gelled visually and aurally. Similarly, the evolution of the band’s sound throughout the night was enhanced by the gradual change of lighting, from cold yellow to deep orange flooding the room as the music became darker and more powerful and the crowd, more relaxed and responsive.

However, it must be noted that, on occasion, Submotion’s studio recorded tracks that can be heard via SoundCloud or YouTube, run the risk of sounding too much like atmospheric dinner music; music played for the purpose of providing gentle ambience but that ultimately goes unnoticed. The sublime hanging notes in ‘Broken World’, for example, can only be appreciated in a live setting, adding texture and depth. Thus, the band’s strengths undoubtedly lie in their live performances, adding an essential richness and personality to the band’s sound. If only the tour had not been so short-lived! Keep an eye on this band, their gigs aren’t to be missed.

By Lauren Sutherland

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