Submotion Orchestra

ALIUM
COUNTER RECORDS

Each LP released seems to further unfurl the rather juxtaposed compound of sounds of which the seven-piece assemblage that is Submotion Orchestra is capable. Currently in their fifth year, and off the back of two critically acclaimed albums, this November sees the release of their third collection, Alium. I assume the band uses the accusative Latin translation of the album title to mean ‘another’ (alius), as opposed to the literal translation of ‘garlic’. However, with artists, one can never be too sure.

You only need to follow uptempo ‘Chrome Units’ with the soft vocals of ‘Rust’ to be taken along the intended diverse sojourn. ‘The Hounds’ sees deep jazz instrumentals reminiscent of their earlier work immersed in the signature synth melody, painting a picture synonymous with its title. ‘Swan Song’ proves a rather contagious number and one that would not be out of place in today’s charts. Take from that what you will. ‘Time Will Wait’ reinforces the group’s transition to a slightly more evolved and energetic album when compared to the existing discography.

The vocals on ‘Ruby Wood’, now synonymous with the vivid bass sound, maintain that contrast to the heavier electronica that ensures the band’s unique ambiance. Those who have already had the pleasure of seeing Submotion Orchestra perform will revel in the thought of a live reproduction of this sonorous album.

Charles Veys

Submotion Orchestra perform at Gorilla on 8 November.

Trojan Horse

World Turned Upside Down
Bad Elephant Music

Sounding like the result of a bunch of excitable adults locked in Jonny Roadhouse for a week with only catnip and Haribo for sustenance, Trojan Horse’s album World Turned Upside Down is a fidgety and bonkers romp through bizarre musical co-ordinates.

It seems as if every instrument ever to exist appears at some point in tracks like ‘Hyprocrite’s Hymn’, ‘See Me At The Cow Bridge’ and ‘Jurapsyche Park’. From wobbly Korg keyboards, violins and brass to wailing guitars and sounds sampled a gazillion times through a prog-matronic ray gun, it’s all there. The tunes aren’t always vocally driven and if there’s vox present in numbers like ‘Sesame’, it’s either the cutesy pipes of a toddler singing, “Pia-pia-piano!” or a male chorus arranged in a patchwork of overlays making duck noises or screaming, “I can’t see this going anywhere”. In the course of one song you can hop from a smooth synth soundtrack of theremins, comfy drums and spacey keyboards to restless medieval-esque chanting, followed by a wall of jumpy riffs.

‘Scuttle’ opens with a strangely Egyptian sounding melody that shifts into a purposefully tuneless piano and then a bouncy, almost punk number. Of course, this doesn’t stay punky for very long and swerves into an eerie fairground world of husky vocals and shivery harpsichord garnish.

Listening to this album is a real commitment if you’re trying to do anything that requires concentration, or a consistent time signature. Hyper happy fury guaranteed.

Stefanie Elrick

Marconi Union

Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol 2)
Just Music

Evolving from their eight-minute track ‘Weightless’, originally created upon request for the British Academy Of Sound Therapy, Marconi Union have provided another beautiful, tranquil piece of music that is guaranteed to make the hairs on your arm stand up, but also calm you down in the most stressful situations of your everyday life.

‘Weightless’ gained worldwide praise and even managed to breach TIME magazine’s Top 50 Inventions Of The Year, so it is no wonder that they have extended this hypnotic, harmonious piece into a full length album. The perfect balance between electronics, percussion and instrumentation creates such a perfect space-age feel that you can imagine yourself floating about up there in mankind’s final frontier. When listening to the album you feel a great sense of infinity, which is exactly what you would expect from a piece of music created to lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate.

Some tracks, or sections, are definitely more upbeat than others, such as ‘Part2’ and ‘Part5’, where you hear more of a clear, constant beat on the cymbals. The album takes you through a series of rises and falls, building and receding, ending with a single note. There are no bad words that could ever be said about this release. It is peaceful and subtle, with enough silence to separate your mind from the hustle and bustle of life on earth. This is possibly the greatest piece of ambient music I have ever encountered.

Sara Tonge

Jim Noir

Finnish Line
My Dad Recordings

For the un-anointed amongst you, ‘Finnish line’ is a term used to describe the moment you run out of alcohol, usually after a monumental binge. This album is Jim Noir’s moment of clarity written and recorded when he “stopped drinking for two months”. Songs such as ‘Strange Range’ and ‘Piece of Mind’ attest to the sleep deprived excess during such bouts as well as the harrowing consequences that the morning after brings.

Unlike his more recent releases which were recorded in his home set up, Finnish Line has received the full orchestral treatment of a working studio, emulating the recording techniques of 60s groups like Tommy James and the Shondells and Revolver era Beatles. However, despite the sonic omnipresence of such influences, the songs are distinctly his own.

Following on from the eclecticism of his last LP, Jimmy’s Show, in which he recorded a new song every month for a year, this record feels more cohesive and personal – indicative of a narrower time frame. In ‘Stone Cold Room’, he eschews his self-deprecating lyrical style for brutally honest insights, which lends the album closer a tinge of melancholia worthy of a bravely reflective collection of songs.

William Wilson

Jim Noir plays at Soup Kitchen on 27 November