The Cinematic Orchestra at the Southbank Centre
Films are not the only cinematic venture adapting to lockdown: The Cinematic Orchestra’s debut performance at the Southbank Centre also became the band’s first streamed event, filmed in the Royal Festival Hall in November 2020 and broadcast around the world two months later, although it feels longer. This warped sense of time seems fitting for the ensemble, whose warm sound invites the listener in only to cast them adrift in its overlapping, percolating rhythms.
The smooth ebb and flow characterises this calming hour in the hands of Jason Swinscoe and company, the electronic samples and live instrumentation combining to produce an ambient intensity. The use of saxophone and vocals keeps the set from sounding sterile, even as Swinscoe sacrifices dynamics and separation between instruments for a choral sound, blending the instrumental voices so the music appears to move as a piece. It may not be spontaneous but it sure is peaceful, creating the welcome illusion of time slowing down.
Leander Ward’s direction matches the clean, spacious quality of The Cinematic Orchestra’s sonic blueprint, shots of the empty auditorium adding to the overall serenity. The decision not to speak between songs also helps the set flow as seamlessly as the gentle motion of the camera. More home cinema than truly cinematic, The Cinematic Orchestra provide the tranquil effect of an evening spent reading Moby’s memoirs in the bath – a performance whose warmth and ambience washes over its audience.
Photos: Dan Medhurst
For further information and future events visit The Cinematic Orchestra’s website here.