|Colour Theory (February 19, 2016)|
Submotion Orchestra — Colour Theory (February 19, 2016)°¨° Submotion Orchestra are one of the most interesting and exciting projects working in the UK today. Drawing upon electronica, soul, ambient electronica, jazz and dub, their unique music is at once delicate and heavy, spacious and dense, highly atmospheric but firmly rooted.
Location: London, UK
Album release: February 19, 2016
Record Label: Counter Records
01. Red Dress 4:37
02. More Than This ft. Billy Boothroyd 5:11
03. Kimono 4:39
04. In Gold 5:36
05. Amira 4:59
06. Needs ft. Andrew Ashong 5:37
07. Empty Love ft. Ed Thomas 3:32
08. Jaffa ft. Still 5:09
09. Illusions 4:48
10. Ao ft. Catching Flies 5:33
By Laura Sciarpelletti, Published Feb 17, 2016; Score: 9
°¨° On their fourth album, UK electronic group Submotion Orchestra chose to focus on the wide–ranging musical talents of each of its seven members. An immensely polished collection of tracks that fuse ambient electronica, dub and jazz, Colour Theory has a very emotional, human side to it, expressed through vocals that explore one’s place in the universe. Colour Theory’s essence is that of introspection, carried by lyrical and instrumental poeticism.
°¨° Off the bat, with opening track “Jaffa” (featuring Still), Submotion Orchestra prove that their intention with the LP is to be radically different. “More Than This,” featuring Billy Boothroyd, is a lovely, lyric–heavy serenade about clear minds and beauty, with its minimalist synths and focus on subtle percussion. Thing take a hip–hop–inspired turn with “In Gold,” on which Ruby Wood’s vocals creep slowly along in contrast with dub elements. “Empty Love” carries a soft intensity that begs us to “pray for better days,” while “Illusions” is a refreshingly poetic take on electronic music. Lastly, “Ao,” featuring Catching Flies, employs ocean vibes and pulsating piano interludes to accent the album’s most nature–oriented track.
°¨° The cumulative result of these exploratory tracks is a meditative collection that stays true to Submotion Orchestra’s house background despite exploring new auditory combinations. °¨° http://exclaim.ca/
°¨° After the success of 2014’s Alium, Submotion Orchestra raise the bar yet again with their new album, Colour Theory. Renowned for their stunning live performances, for “smoky jazz, skittering live percussion and swooping synths” (Mojo), the band have this time taken a conscious decision to focus their energy and attention on to their production, shaping a record of immense poise and epic scope, where attention to detail and shape has resulted in a new dynamism and contemporary sheen. As producer Dom Ruckspin puts it, “we wanted to go somewhere radically different.” While Colour Theory is indeed radically different, it also stays true to what made Submotion Orchestra so exciting to begin with.
°¨° From the opening bars of Jaffa, it’s easy to see this record is a step up. The sheer space the band create in their music is breathtaking. A slice of broken–house groove dripping with melancholy and post–club longing, it shows the confidence and style the group have in abundance. And with Ruby Wood taking something of a sabbatical to focus on motherhood, the band have managed to mix beautiful instrumental moments like Amira with a stellar cast of guests. Billy Boothroyd uses his choral background to great effect on the sweet, poised More Than This. The wonderful Andrew Ashong (Sound Signature/ Which Way) delivers one of the standout moments on Needs. But then again, In Gold, a sparse, hip hop–inflected slowburner, reminds us how just good Ruby is and the work she delivers with sometime Chase & Status collaborator Ed Thomas on Empty Love just confirms it. Red Dress, a production collaboration with Royce Wood Jr, is the kind of smooth, slick r&b, that places the band in a continuum with The XX and London Grammar, adding an epic jazz–aesthetic all their own. The album closes with Ao, a shimmering, melancholy slo–mo house groove featuring the up and coming talents of Catching Flies. There are moments of sublime poise and beauty throughout.
°¨° This is a group which has now found the perfect balance between the chops of their seven members as individual musicians and the needs of the collective to shape this into taut, brilliant, warm and elegant music. With a recent sold–out show at the Barbican in London as one of the closing performances of the EFG London Jazz Festival and a show coming up at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire next March, this is a band who are already well–loved and acclaimed as live performers. With Colour Theory they’re set to match and even better that as recording artists.
|Colour Theory (February 19, 2016)|