Formed by Dom Ruckspin as a ‘live dubstep’ group, Submotion Orchestra contains some of the Leeds College of Music’s finest musicians, who began playing together as part of an Arts Council commissioned project. Still relatively new, they made their name with the help of established world music guru Gilles Peterson, who describes them as ‘somewhere between Cinematic Orchestra and dubstep’.
Starting off with a rendition of ‘Back Chat’, Submotion Orchestra immediately showed their versatility by flowing faultlessly in and out of their studio material and bass-driven grooves that have obviously been crafted from a lot of live jam time. Like bands such as Fat Freddy’s Drop and Floating Points Ensemble, their recorded material is impressive; however it is only when you see them live that they really come into their own. The keys playing of Taz Modi is what really gives the band an edge. The combination of cold and dark yet warm tones is what happens when you fuse an accomplished and technical musician with true analogue synths.
What impressed the most was the informality of the gig. Helped by the intimate size of the venue, the crowd felt close to the creative process as Ruby Wood casually chatted to a sound technician in between jams.
Their focus is on the sound design. The balance between the piercing flugelhorn/ trumpet playing of Simon Beddoe and the dexterous percussion with Wood’s soft but powerful vocals improved every song, building up to an impressive encore.
You get the sense these free flowing performances are yet to continue to improve with time, especially with their experimental edge. With many ‘orchestral-esque’ bands emerging onto the scene in the last year or two, it is clear that Submotion are really influenced by this philosophy. With more and more music sounding the same, this is a good way to be.