Monday, October 29, 2007

Man With the Movie Camera Phone

Saturday saw the return to Manchester of part local band The Cinematic Orchestra. Drummer Luke Flowers and guitarist Stuart McCallum are regulars on the Manchester jazz circuit and have been mentioned numerously on this blog already. The bass player Phil France is mcr based as well I think and the Cinematics used to have both local boys John Ellis and Steve Brown on keys at different times in the past. I'm a really big fan of the Cinematic Orchestra but to a certain extent I wasn't looking forward to the gig as much as I might as I'm not a fan of the Manchester Academy venues at the best of times. They are essentially little more than sports hall spaces that utterly lack atmosphere to my mind. I'm also if I'm honest a bit disappointed with the latest record 'Ma Fleur' that I don't think matches the previous two records, albeit having a few really great tracks. Nevertheless it wasn't a bad gig. The band are near the end of a long tour and looked a bit haggard but the playing had energy.

They are a much more improvisational group than I've seen in the past which some folk may see as a step in the right direction, but I really liked the tight and sparse arrangements of the 'Man With the Movie Camera' era. As much as I love the guitar (being a player of one), I'm not sure it adds to the their sound. In many ways what I liked about the Cinematics was that they sounded very different to most other groups, being both er... 'cinematic' and 'orchestral' as per their apt name and I think this has been lost to some extent. Overall the sound is much more dense and busy. Still, this may be welcome to some and there's now more homage to the 'Art Ensemble of Chicago' influences with a few quite intense free improvisation sections in the set, latterly in the 'Man With the Movie Camera' track itself. Mr Flowers was, as usual, excellent and clearly lapping up the applause at the end of the show. In summary, good but I know can do better.

Short extract of 'Child Play':

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