The Cinematic Orchestra, The Roundhouse, London
Wednesday 11 November 2009
The Cinematic Orchestra defy classification. Is it jazz? Electronica? Hip-hop or trip-hop? Or movie soundtrack music? What is obvious, though, is that the shape-shifting outfit formed by John Swinscoe in the late 1990s does not lack musical conviction. Which other band could perform an hour-long instrumental accompaniment to an 80-year-old silent Soviet movie and be confident of a capacity crowd?
At the Roundhouse the band presented the first night of In Motion, an audiovisual show in which a selection of short films are shown with newly created scores.
Some band history is required here. The Cinematic Orchestra's second album, the captivating Everyday, featured "Man with the Movie Camera", a track inspired by a piece of silent experimental cinema made in the Soviet Union in 1929. The band went on to write a score for the entire film – to be played in front of a screen showing the original.
At the Roundhouse, by way of a warm-up, they debuted original soundtracks for two classic short films, Manhatta (1921) and the Dada-influenced Entr'acte (1924). Mixing shuffling percussion and roaming drums with relaxed pianos, melancholic strings and jazz horns, there was no sign of the group's previous struggles with the constraints of live performance. They captivated the audience with a set of pure musical indulgence, occupying an emotional, nocturnal world.
The Cinematic Orchestra – citing the Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann as an inspiration – use a small cluster of notes to create tension and release. Even the upbeat "Burn Out" uses just three notes for the saxophone. The encore showed they can also be poppy, and the atmospheric "All Things to All Men", with guest star Roots Manuva, was a real crowd pleaser.
However, a performance of "To Build a Home", a powerful, billowing piano ballad from Ma Fleur, the group's fourth album, would have been appreciated and if there was a negative, the tension seemed at times too drawn out. The visuals, too, were not always demanding of attention – they seemed an artistic warm-up to the obligatory encore of old favourites.
In the end, it was these dynamic vocal tracks that illustrated just how well The Cinematic Orchestra combine artistic flair and great musicianship.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
- 2 Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
- 3 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland