For the uninitiated, The Cinematic Orchestra’s small and intimate gig on Saturday 24th June 2017, at Tramshed Cardiff, may have seemed like a bit if a misnomer. Yet those in the crowd familiar with one of the original pioneers of Cold Cut’s Ninja Tune label knew better. While the signature screen that usually accompanies the band may have been absent, the limitless swell of emotion ebbed over the crowed was more evocative than powerful scenes from the silver screen. Likewise, each member of The Cinematic Orchestra’s 8 piece are deftly capable of producing something more substantial than tens of musicians in tuxedos.
Even without a screen and projected visuals, The Cinematic Orchestra provide an entertaining narrative. You’d be hard pushed to find a tighter and more trusting band. It’s clear that each member is a master of their particular section (even the sequence work of Dorian Concept) and the ease with which each member can turn their performance up or down is a real delight. Watching the band/orchestra members take cues from and add to one another is probably one of the most satisfying musical experiences you can have. Gladly, none of the musical musing derail any of the sublime symphonies. All are careful to not go too far from the track’s blueprint. Even when freestyling, the original melodies are adhered to, even if the structure isn’t. This is, in no small part, thanks to band leader/composer, Jason Swinscone. His conductor’s platform may be replaced with a table, awash with sequencers and EQs, but he nevertheless wrangles the musicians into a deftly organised chorus. Swinscone’s focus and nimble ear allows him to feed just as much from the band as he does the audience. The result is a wonderful mixture of instrumental jazz that ruminates rather than meanders.
Whatever rhythm you like, seemed to be the order of the day. The Cinematic Orchestra’s pieces intertwine instrumental, jazz and score music, but much of the offerings should contradict one another. Instead the staccato beats frame some of the most elegant movements to bless your ears. Even the electronic sequencing cradles the musical passages instead of a jarring mish-mash. You can pick to be swept up in the soundscape or head-bop to the beat.
Like any good band should, there’s a brilliant mix of old favourites and works in progress. Crowd-pleasers like Channel 1 Suite and Familiar Ground make certain there were no flat hairs on the necks of any audience members. Then the new vocal offerings for the upcoming albums entranced head-boppers and leg-swayers alike, freezing all to the spot. Somehow an audience member persuaded the band to stay for one more after the encore. The result was a delicate rendition of the (Grey Reverend Version) of Build A Home. While the most accomplished bands can offer alternate versions of coveted tracks, it’s rare that fans are treated to something quite so intimate…let alone beautiful.