Submotion Orchestra, Cornelia: Eric’s, Liverpool

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Submotion Orchestra live at Eric's Liverpool.jpg
Smooth, sexy and seductive, Submotion Orchestra bring their syncopated swells to Liverpool, Getintothis’ Tom Jefferson is suitably impressed.


With dub, electronics and jazz on the menu, tonight’s gig is as far from the punk and post-punk the Eric’s of old was renowned for.
And on this writer’s first visit to the new Erics, although there is a hint of the old magic in the walls, it feels far removed from the original.
A huge soundsystem powerfully rattles and hums low bass frequencies into the old bricks and this underground lair is awash the O.T.T swirling lights, more akin to Flares a little further down Mathew Street than a rock and roll club.
Yet, the vibe is good with a mix of youngsters, students and older heads forming a strong crowd for tonight’s support: Cornelia is a unique one-woman band who switches between playing synths and wielding a Japanese built 80s synth, come harpsichord guitar that produces some pretty wild sounds.
At her finer moments she has the wild experimentation and confusing arrangements of a Kate Bush or Bjork.
She plays the persona of dubstep princess; all sinewy movements and sparking sequins, and although she has a great voice and some skill in the art of electronic manipulation, something about her performance doesn’t quite ring true.
For every track with the bizarre and intriguing time sequences and arrangements of The Meaning Of That Day, there is a dull bandwagon, fame-chasing, radio-friendly track like her latest single Stormy Weather.
Time will tell where she chooses to take her sound.

We don’t have to wait long for Submotion Orchestra, the band take to the stage and immediately break into Intro, the opener from new album Fragments.
Creepy tinkling piano builds and offsets the dub-laden syncopated drums, while trumpet blasts breathe life and melody into what evolves into an epic opener.
Singer Ruby Wood then takes to the stage to complete the group. She has the voice and face of an angel and she owns the stage with an almost diva-like confidence and ease.
Recalling the likes of Fat Freddy’s Drop and Dub Pistols, yet Wood’s vocal immediately asserts a more soulful tone to proceedings akin to Zero 7 on tracks such as Blind Spot.
There is plenty of visual stimulus, as this 7-piece present a plethora of instruments are on stage with two drummers, keys and synths, trumpet and flugelhorn, which comes to the fore on Sunshine washing the sound with a truly beautiful, mellower vibe reminiscent of the superb Bonobo.
It is these sexy, organic sounds that give a smooth sheen over the rougher electronic dubstep elements, while still containing all the euphoric highs associated with dance music.
There is a warmth to it that is even more spine-tingling to the senses than it’s purely electronic counterparts, but just as we start to settle into the comfort of their ambient, yet bass-fuelled sound, the band break out into a full on instrumental dubstep jam.
The force and power behind it is surprising, energizing Eric’s young crowd from a slow groove into a full on rave.
It is followed in stark contrast by the hauntingly beautiful All Yours from their debut album Finest Hour, and perhaps their stand out track. Growing quietly to epic proportions; the bass hums, drums echo, and swelling trumpets all mingle with Ruby’s effortless vocal to awesome effect.
What is most interesting about SMO is their ability to switch between the mellow soulful jazz to intense dubstep.
What could easily be a one trick pony, albeit a very pleasant one, but which at times threatens to sound like an Ibiza Chillout CD, is subtly evolved into a sprawling and intense, awe-inspiring soundscape.
This blend continues to draw crowds from far and wide; the average age of the crowd tonight cannot be more than 21, and all of them seem to appreciate the mellower, jazz-tinged moments as much as the harder, bass-fuelled moments.
They finish on their most radio friendly number It’s Not Me It’s You, which is an all round dance floor smash which celebrates all their components.

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