Ninja Tune - 2003 - 61 minutes
Jason Swinscoe's widescreen melancholia takes a literal turn on the latest release from his Cinematic Orchestra. Perhaps he was tired of that downbeat cliché - the soundtrack to an imaginary film. Instead he has crafted a score for a real film, Dziga Vertov's classic silent documentary, 'Man With A Movie Camera'.
Beginning with a crackly, old-time East European melody, the album soon settles into the style familiar to Cinematic Orchestra fans, with some tracks even being recycled from previous J Swinscoe releases.
'Dawn' and 'The Awakening Of Woman (Burnout)' bear many of his signature motifs, mournful strings and tasteful percussion, with the latter enjoying the richer palette as organs and vintage synths visit the mix.
'Reel Life's vaguely drum'n'bass beat patterns and Postlude's stripped back abstraction shows that there's a few tricks in the bag, but by 'Evolution' we're back in strings, pianos and beats land. It's all perfectly assembled if somewhat austere, so by the time Swinscoe finally rips out some Hammond heavy funk on 'Theme De Yoyo' it's a long-anticipated relief.
It's a jazz album really, but one so centred on its partnership with the moving image that it's not really satisfying as music in its own right. Movie music is popular, but by nature full of repetition and ham-fisted gestures.
'The Man With The Movie Camera' is definitely a superior offering, with the closer 'All Things' paying beautiful homage to two of the genre's greats - Ennio Morricone and Philip Glass. But the suspicion remains that it'd all make a lot more sense booming from the Dolby Surround system of your local multiplex than on the home stereo.
Tracklisting: The Projectionist - Melody - Dawn - The Awakening of a Woman (Burnout) - Reel Life (Evolution II) - Postlude - Evolution (Versao Portuense) - Work It! (Man With the Movie Camera) - Voyage - Odessa - Theme de YoYo - The Magician - Theme Reprise - YoYo Waltz - Drunken Tune - The Animated Tripod - All Things