Introducing Submotion Orchestra. Here’s their latest video:
DJ/ producers live in a world where a great deal of the creativity occurs via conscious and deliberate tweeks to a record done over a long period of time. I always get the image of one man surrounded by computers, tweaking sounds and combining samples to create a mood, or make a point.
Conversely, live bands can make use of a much more subconscious creative process. Otherwise known as the “jam”, it’s how I’ve written most of my drum parts to this date. A musician playing an instrument practices and hones their craft, perfecting techniques, which can cause unexpected combinations and interesting noise when they jam with other musicians.
Watching Submotion live, the physicality of the performance is as controlled and perfected as their sound. The slim statuette of their singer Ruby Wood on a brightly lit stage, bordered on all sides by boxes spewing wires out of every available hole, provides a striking image. Surrounding her are the men responsible for operating the musical machinery, all intently focussed on performing their part in the cacophony of sound.
Bandleader Tommy Evans sits behind the kit, providing an energetic and dynamic backdrop both musically and visually. There are few moments where the offbeat is left empty, Tommy’s grooves masterfully utilise it to create momentum or rhythmic interest.
Giles Peterson describes their sound as: “somewhere between the Cinematic Orchestra and Dubstep.” Although this hits the nail on the head rather succinctly, it doesn’t do justice to the magical blend of jazz trumpet sounds, electronic groove, soul and world music influences that layer on top of an organic musical essence. The more I listen to their album, the more it feels like it’s crying out for it’s own reward: “The World’s most contemporary and accessible Jazz album for people who don’t know if they like jazz yet.” I might have to work on a snappier title, but that one will do for now.
Which is why they stand out. There are plenty of instances of electronic music sounding too machinated, and live bands can fall into the trap of becoming too restrictive over their own sound, losing any human element. Submotion Orchestra never lose the persistently natural flow throughout their whole set. Even in the most dubstep of moments, their music sounds alive, pulsing with its own powerful heartbeat.
Check out the Concorde 2’s interview with Ruby and Taz here:
My personal favourite Jojo Mayer video, discussing his work deconstructing and replaying electronic beats: