Music, at its roots, is all about emotions; what separates it from the noise of the traffic outside is the emotions it draws out of the listener. Even in the modern, fast-moving lifestyle, one often finds themselves turning to music for moments of calmness and peace of mind. This is exactly what Submotion Orchestra deliver with their fifth studio album, Kites.
Hailing from the UK, the seven-piece act brings in an extremely fresh mix of gorgeous synth compositions, bass-heavy electronics, jazz percussion, some classical segments, and minimalistic ‘indie’ chord strums, to create something extremely grandiose. But this fantastic amalgamation of sounds would not have the impact it does were it not coupled with the breathtaking vocals of Ruby Wood, as they provide the real momentum to the music on Kites. This is evident from the get-go, as the album opens with “Prism”, in which the reverberating vocals take charge immediately. The mellow piano keys start playing in the background as ambient sounds build the tempo, before electronic percussion and some jazzy drum work kick in. As the track progresses further, the trumpet brings back the nostalgic charm of 70s jazz fusion, while the beats continue to lead the path towards the 80s electronics, all of it hitting the listener at once.
Submotion Orchestra pride themselves in not being restricted by genres, and this really shines out in the form of the diversity on display. This is one of the primary strength of the album. Right after the jazz-driven opener, “Variations” takes one straight onto a mash of r’n’b inspired club music without skipping a beat. On the other end of the spectrum, “Night” almost comes off as an ambient-indie track, driven by some of the most minimalistic instrumentation. Each piano note, each beat of the drum, and each octave of the trumpet on this track completely stands out. And this is the second compartment Kites and Submotion Orchestra overall truly excel in – the dynamics of the record.
The entire album was recorded live at Cornwall’s boutique Cube Studios, and the direction done by Tommy Evans deserves great praise. Each piece of instrumentation has a natural flow in its sound pattern, and no element feels compressed or cut-off. The title track “Kites” glides from a jazzy opener to a electronic-dubstep-loop with sheer grace and beauty. Midway through the track, Bobby’s trumpet section gives way to a Taz’s work on the keyboard, which in turn molds itself with Danny’s percussion into a singular symbiotic entity. In this whole span of over five minutes, at no point does any single instrument come off as harsh or noisy.
The band almost saved the best for the last, as “Tunnel” sees them bring in a bit more experimentation and variation to their songwriting. The mellow-ambient atmospherics give way to a dark industrial vibe, with the trumpet almost adding a horror-laden, eerie vibe. This track serves as a good move away from the much-more linear flow of the record, and is something I hope to see the band experiment with further down the road. Without taking anything away from the fantastic record Kites is, if one really had to go nitpicking for flaws, one could say that adding a bit more energy into the music could take Submotion Orchestra to the next level.
Nevertheless, to sum it all up, Submotion Orchestra have delivered a perfect blend of ambient, jazz, electronica, and even some soulful r&b. Minimalist in its sonic approach, there is a charm to Kites that just draws one in, and one that simply cannot be ignored.
Notable Tracks: “Prism”; “Kites”; “Tunnel”
FFO: Hidden Orchestra, The Cinematic Orchestra, Bonobo
To keep updated with the tours and music by Submotion Orchestra, do not forget to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Kites releases on 9th March, and can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp, iTunes and the bands Official Website (Vinyl/Merch).