Formed in 2009, the septet of Submotion Orchestra have released two albums of material that won not only has won a rather loyal fan following but critical praise from the likes of The Guardian and The Times thanks, in part to sound that blurs the genre lines between electronica, jazz, dub and soul – and it’s done in a rather trippy, intentionally mind-altering fashion. Sure, that description may be somewhat familiar, when you consider bands like Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote; however unlike their contemporary Australian counterparts, Submotion Orchestra’s sound is much more approachable – in the sense that it has a pop/dance music sensibility. Recently signed to London’s famed Circus Records, based on a chance meeting with that label’s head Flux Pavilion, who had professed his undying love of their sound, Submotion Orchestra’s 1968 EP is the septet’s first release on that label. And from listening to the EP, you’ll hear icily sparse beats that scatter and skitter at weird angels, subtle hits of organ and keys – but it’s lead singer Ruby’s soulful vocals whose heat cracks the ice a bit with a subtle sensuality.
EP opening track “ Damn Hot,” bears the closest resemblance to the work of Beacon (a personal favorite of mine) but on steroids – the song gently rocks and pulsates with a dimly disguised carnality. If the track doesn’t make you horny, then there’s something deeply wrong with you. “Breathe it In” has some slick synths reminiscent of 1980s house and pop but a loose, jazzy feel that makes the song a perfect club banger. “Broken World” much like “Damn Hot” is a seductive song, full of skittering beats, a throbbing, insistent bass line, and a subtle bit of burn bursting from the beneath the surface. “Hard to Stay” is probably the most straightforward pop song on the entire EP, and it reminds quite a bit of Control and Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson.
it’s impressive because so few acts manage to be accessible while defying expectations nor do they manage to balance that tightrope between sparse minimalism and sensuality in a way that these guys do.