Release Date: Jun 25, 2012
Record label: Ninja Tune
Genre(s): Electronic, Classical, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Chamber Music, Modern Composition
The Cinematic Orchestra's Jason Swinscoe is taking the idea behind his artist persona's name to its ultimate realization. On the latest from Swinscoe, In Motion #1, he enlists Dorian Concept & Tom Chant, Austin Peralta, and Grey Reverend to join him in creating music for visually compelling films. Swinscoe uses this opportunity to show off his obscure film knowledge: among the pre-chosen short films are Austrian Peter Tscherkassky's Outer Space (2000) and Dream Work (2002), James Whitney's animated Lapis (1966), Mannus Franken's and Joris Ivens' Dutch documentary, Regen (1929), Standish Lawder's Necrology (1971), Rene Clair's Entr'acte (1924), and the documentary Manhatta (1921).
The Cinematic Orchestra isn't really an orchestra (membership seems to hover around seven or eight people) and in any case this isn't really a Cinematic Orchestra album -- it's a compilation of pieces ("songs" would not be the right word) by Grey Reverend, Dorian Concept, and Tom Chant, and Austin Peralta, plus three tracks by the Cinematic Orchestra. Interestingly, one of the Cinematic Orchestra's contributions is the least orchestral entry on the program: "Necrology" is a sort of minimalist jazz fusion; despite its deceptively lush texture there's not a lot of harmonic movement, and the piece tends to sort of circle in place while lots of interesting little things happen among the instrumental parts. "Entr'acte" is much more classical, a quiet and utterly gorgeous piece that starts and ends in a pastoral mode with a brief interlude of chromatic intensity in the middle and a long, rockish outro that subsides into a quiet dénouement.
Blame it on guilt by association, but Jason Swinscoe and the Cinematic Orchestra never entirely deserved the cocktail-lounge reputation that was dumped on their heads when the trip-hop hangover set in. It's sit-down music by any measure, but casual wine-and-cheese conversation doesn't suit it quite like sitting in a darkened room to the accompaniment of some motion-picture visuals-- an experience that amplifies the music's actual purpose instead of letting it aimlessly float around in the background. This has long been the relationship between music paired with film-- Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack for Vertigo and Jerry Goldsmith's Alien weren't made to accompany early-morning jogs, and they'll make your dinner party more unnerving than is necessary, but when bodies are falling and monsters are stalking they sound absolutely peerless.
The above quotation, which appears on the Web site for In Motion #1, has always been an integral part to the spirit of the Cinematic Orchestra. Post-rock isn’t the name of their game, but they live up to one of its credos, namely “making music for imaginary films.” If their name wasn’t a dead enough giveaway, their music more than speaks to that fact. The spare, ringing chords of “To Build a Home”, one of the most memorable cuts from their 2007 effort Ma Fleur, could easily serve as a sonic backdrop to some introspective art-house flick.