By definition a gig is a musical experience. It may be a good experience, a bad one, a happy one, whatever, but the really good gigs are experiences that cannot be qualified. Submotion Orchestra playing at the Kazimier was an experience for me, not one I will forget quickly. The support act, the local GhostChant pulled off a fairly sublime performance which was remarkably well packaged for what is essentially a one man band. His set comprised of a varied and unique sound, sampling several live instruments, augmented with confident yet melodic vocals. I’d suggest catching GhostChant play with Gold Panda and Brolin on the 23rd at EVAC if you can, to know what I’m on about.
Despite a solid set, in the Kazimir the crowd had come for Submotion Orchestra and so had I. Whilst watching them shuffle onstage, I sipped my pint and listened to the excited chatter about me; all half caught conversations were directed towards the next act. Having released a new EP not a fortnight previously, and two albums already, there was a significant amount of material that might be played, I speculated with my beer sipping fellows. As it happened, the focus of the evening was not on their most recent EP release in particular, (though three out of five songs were played), but rather on producing a live set where each individual performance was totally harmonious with the next. Vocalist Ruby Wood led the band through each composition, flowing on and off stage as easily as the songs melted into each other. The six members of the Orchestra were distinct artists, all the while collaborating to resolve their component parts into an incredible auditory experience. Perhaps one of the only artists I have seen to employ both a drummer and a dedicated percussionist, the extent of the distinction is particularly noticeable in the flesh, they played a slew of B-Sides and unreleased tracks to highlight that differentiation. With so many people on the stage, it was almost expected that there would be some confusion, some cock-up to be forgiven, though nothing of the sort occurred. Instead, each member fed off the creativity their respective bandmates, at all moments aware of their surroundings and alert to their crowd. Opening with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Backchat’ from their 2011 debut album ‘Finest Hour’, working through such gems as ‘Blind Spot’ and ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ from their Jazzy cum Electronic Bass 2012 album ‘Fragments’. The latter song took my breath away, with rich bass guitar contrasted with a complex trumpet sequence to set the hairs on end and prick the ears. Each song is produced live by their dedicated soundtech bandmate, creating an electronic experience that is so consistently outstanding, it begs the question why they are still viewed as underground. ‘Hard To Stay’, taken from the new EP, is a touching slow dance to warrant fogging of the eyes, just as the dancy ‘Damn Hot’ warrants groovy bopping and a enthusiastic, eyes closed sway. I’ve waxed lyrical of Submotion Orchestra’s talent enough, as in reality their music speaks for itself, their latest release being no exception; their encore consisted of it’s title track ‘1968’ and the aptly named ‘Perfection’. No words of mine can replicate exactly how perfect those last five minutes were, listening to beautiful music, a beautiful singer, a beautiful band with beautiful people; albeit by this point I was slightly pissed. Big up The Kaz, big up Submotion Orchestra, for being totally outstanding.
/ Jon Ferguson