Submotion Orchestra - Colour Theory

Submotion Orchestra – Colour Theory


Pinning Submotion Orchestra down to one sound is near impossible. The Leeds seven-piece cross over the worlds of dub, jazz, ambient, soul, and I’m sure many more, with ease somehow avoiding the perils of over-complication. They were originally pioneers of the dubstep sound, forming only to play a huge live dubstep gig after receiving funding from the Arts Council. And from that short-lived era they are just one of very few acts that have made it through the noise.

Change has long been the secret to their success and tonight, we are witnessing their biggest change yet – a performance without their lead singer Ruby Jones; she has just given birth and has taken a backseat on this record. The most whole-hearted fan can deal with a lot of change but would this be a step too far?

We didn’t know during their first song ‘Doppelganger’ as it is an instrumental that showcases the talents of the musicians that make up Submotion Orchestra. Only when Alyusha, a London-based writer and composer, steps on to the stage can we tackle this change. She performs a set of three songs with the band, ‘Time Will Wait’, ‘Red Dress’ and ‘Blind Spot’, and while thoughts initially question whether she is quite Ruby, Alyusha demonstrates a vocal where she can both soothe yet soar. On ‘Blindspot’ she wails into the mic as the drums dance effortlessly behind her and washes of white light happily blind us. She clearly wins the acceptance of the crowd and flourishes in that feeling.

Billy Boothroyd, the vocalist who sings on the second track from their most recent album, ‘Red Dress’, then joins the band. Unlike Alyusha, his voice doesn’t quite carry the same power and at times it is overpowered by a bass that rumbles like a pneumatic drill, causing the band to eye each other alarmingly.

Any thoughts that Submotion Orchestra have reached the peak of their performance are then dispelled with ‘It’s not me, it’s you.’ It is one of their most accessible songs and hits one of tonight’s top notes when Alyusha, now back with the band, shouts the main hook out in line with the bouncing drums causing a riot of dancing to break out.

‘In Gold’, one of the standouts from the new album, originally features Ruby so it seems a strange choice when Billy takes up the vocals. A wise choice though it proves as he matches the gold-dusted, polished production with an overlording vocal not unlike Antony Hegarty (Anthony & The Johnsons and Anohni).

For their final song and biggest smash to date ‘All Yours’, Alyusha and Billy join together for the first time. It’s potentially the biggest risk of the night as the song is so identifiable with Ruby, but as with all of tonight’s performance the song is played out with such perfection that you can barely feel Ruby’s spirit.

While an appearance from Ruby would have undeniably added to tonight, Submotion Orchestra have proved tonight that their sheer wall of noise is not broke nor damaged by the temporary loss of Ruby Jones. In fact, the bricks they’ve added have made it more durable, appealing and most importantly, proved to us that they can rebuild it all again and still have us frothing at the mouth.

Recent interview with co-founder, drummer and lyrics writer, Tommy Evans here

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.