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With an excess of review fodder dropping through the mail slot on a daily basis, it is always heartening to be presented with a release that does not fit neatly into standard categories. And the debut long player from Submotion Orchestra definitely is out on a limb of its own.
I can't say this electro-cum-nu-soul mishmash was really on my radar beforehand, save for a whiff of approval from Gilles Peterson for an early single. But I have since learned that the collective is based in Leeds, and came together partly in response to an Arts Council commission for a live dubstep work to be staged in Yorkminster Cathedral. Only happen in Britain, right?
At the core of the group is noted producer/DJ Ruckspin and drummer Tommy Evans of Gentleman's Dub Club. The supporting cast includes experimental jazz trumpeter Simon Beddoe, likeminded keyboardist Taz Modi (of Monkey See Monkey Do), salsa-fied percussionist Danny Templeman (who has worked with both Macy Gray and Andre Tanker), and London-based bassist Chris 'Fatty' Hargreaves. And the icing on the cake takes the form of vocalist Ruby Wood, whose sweet jazz and soul tones inject an aspect of melodic moodiness, despite often sounding at odds with the backing material.
Finest Hour has been cut in magnum opus mode, so there is no real break between tracks, giving the work a seamless quality, even as it drifts between genres. Broody opener Angel Eyes begins with full orchestration before dropping down to drum'n'bass basics; Back Chat starts out sounding like Richard Clayderman attacking Nadia's Theme, until raspy bass warbles soon remind that we are heading for the dubstep zone. Always has a pick'n'mix feel, and Hymn for Him has down-tempo minimalism; All Yours could be Sade gone acid, while Pop and Lock and Secrets merge skewered jazz and broken d'n'b to fine effect. And even if songs like Suffer Not and Finest Hour seem unnecessarily sentimental, the dub-wise element of each lends a sensation of infiniteness. By the time we reach the closing Perfection, the journey has been a quietly bewildering one, becoming only marginally more familiar on another spin.
Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing them perform yet, the unit are said to be able to skilfully replicate the experience live. If you have even a passing interest in dubstep or avant-garde jazz, this intriguing debut suggests the group as one to keep an eye on.
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Top Customer Reviews
I love the ideas behind this album - and in some place the fusion of genres works very well but in total the album doesn't do it for me.
There are some highlights - Ruby Wood's voice for a start, and Hymn for Him is a great track, as is Backchat (although at times the piano part reminds me a little too much of Massive Attack's Weather Storm). But if I listen to the album all the way through I just start getting bored, which isn't what I want.
It's obvious that this album is quite polarising - some love it, others really don't take to it, so at the very least ensure that you listen to the album on their website before you purchase to avoid disappointment.
I have to say this album is as silky smooth as "lost where I belong" by Andreya Triana but in my opinion it is a better album. Ruby Wood provides vocals that make you want to melt, if you like zero 7, Bonobo or Sia, I am sure you will love this.
This album starts with the very chilled out "Angel Eyes" and on first listen I expected that to be the theme of the album, a chilled late night Zero 7 like chill fest, but no. This album has more depth with upbeat numbers like "pop and Lock" that almost take you into a sort of jazz garage vibe (yes I made that up). The one thing that I keep thinking when listening to this album is that I should be in a very expensive, very cool bar in the coolest part of town drinking something I can't afford. This album is the best album I have heard all year, I haven't been this excited about an artist since I discovered Bonobo all those years ago. Now click that mouse and buy it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic, melodic, satisfying and lovely. Give it a spin for yourself.Published 5 months ago by Roland Glover
Poor, asinine stuff, but a slight improvement on the sub-par (v)Alium.
Avoid unless you're quite musically conservative.
Superb music, every track brings something new to the album. Mixing and Vocal processing are perfect too! CD arrived in new condition plastic wrapped.Published on 31 May 2014 by M. G. Price
This band are fab!! A must see live band. Play this CD so much!, it's like the finest hour when it's on...Published on 1 April 2014 by KM1