Five albums deep and Submotion Orchestra show no indication of slowing. The seven piece band formed in 2009 in Leeds have wowed listeners and audiences with their unique mixture of jazz, dubstep, soul/neo-soul, ambient sounds and dub. If that seems like an awful lot of genres of music to combine, that’s because it is.
Their newest effort ‘Kites’ (the follow up to their 2016 LP ‘Colour Theory’) is as impressive as the albums preceding it. The album opens with ‘Prism’ (the second single released), a slow building but powerful song that features resident Submotion Orchestra vocalist Ruby Wood punctuating the track with a few lyrics amongst a growing wave of sounds. Whilst this isn’t something that is new on a Submotion Orchestra record, it is something they typically do so well that each time a new soundscape is created it’s exciting.
It’s worth noting that as well as the opening track ‘Prism’, the three tracks that follow it; ‘Variations’, ‘Night and ‘Kites’, were all released as singles. All four of these tracks are relatively slow, brooding and ethereal (although ethereal could be used to describe most of the Submotion Orchestra discography). Whilst slow tracks are definitely within their usual repertoire as they have a lot of successful and emotive down-tempo songs on previous albums, these four tracks really set a precedent for the rest of the ‘Kites’ album as it remains a relatively melancholic, and subdued project for the majority of its 45 minute run-time. The album drips of reverie, nostalgia, and quiet musings.
In addition, although featuring artists has been an exception rather than a normal occurrence on Submotion Orchestra projects, the lack of any featured artists at all gives ‘Kites’ a very personal feel. In contrast the previous album ‘Colour Theory’ had five tracks with other artists featured; the most of any Submotion Orchestra project.
Subjectively speaking, this is not the most exciting Submotion Orchestra album; in fact it’s far from it. It is however a very emotive and interesting project that seems to have the seven-piece band returning with more insular and personal themes. With a mix of purely instrumental tracks (the impressive ‘Bridge’ and ‘Tunnel’ respectively) and vocalist lead tracks, any fan of Submotion Orchestra will enjoy ‘Kites’ although the highly introspective nature of the project may put off newcomers. Either way, ‘Kites’ is another solid body of work from a group that continues to gain momentum.
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The full track list for ‘Kites’ is as follows…