Submotion Orchestra: Finest Hour – review

(Exceptional Blue)

When the arts council commissioned a live dubstep piece in York Minster, a group of Leeds music scene luminaries created the Submotion Orchestra, who aren't really dubstep at all. Beloved of Gilles Peterson, their long, woozy adventures dip into funk, dub, drum'n'bass and jazz. The collision of Ruby Wood's sublime, airy vocals and sub-bass grooves end up like Sade fronting Massive Attack. The band's tendencies towards muso, clothes-shop Muzak are mostly kept at bay, although there aren't so much great tunes as stunning segments: the melancholy hanging notes which conjure up the tense, tragic atmosphere of films such as Don't Look Now and Scandal, and Taz Modi's shimmering keyboard runs (reminiscent of Mike Garson's work on Bowie's Aladdin Sane.) Wood's purrs reach a sublime peak on Hymn for Him and the title track, and while it's hard to shake off the feeling that there was a lot of this stuff in the 1990s, they won't be short of admirers.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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