Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #81 Cinematic Orchestra
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#81 Cinematic Orchestra
Although The Cinematic Orchestra has released five full-length albums, as well as a live album, there are two records that truly define the group: 2002's Everyday and 2007's Ma Fleur. There are several similarities between the two records. Both are pristinely recorded and masterfully produced. And, both albums are examples of how jazz and classical music can be extremely accessible, despite the bad rap they occasionally receive. One of Swinscoe's best attributes as a composer, which was evident on both Everyday and Ma Fleur, is his patience. His use of space within his songs are awe-inspiring and comparable to that of David Sylvian. On Ma Fleur, he brushes "Breathe" with the lightest of colors, using a subtle acoustic guitar and the powerful, yet distant vocals of Fontella Bass, only to build them into a climax of crashing cymbals and snares. Similary, "To Build A Home" begins with a soft piano note, complimented by Patrick Watson's soothing, yet robust voice. As the tempo of the piano rises and chords come into play, the vocals break free and float around the piano like soft feathers. Everyday's "All that you Give" and "Burnout" were built like skyscapers, starting slow from the base, but resulting in a towering presence that drifts off into the sky.
Although these two albums have such similarities, there is a significant difference between the two. The contemporary jazz approach that painted the landscape of Everyday was replaced by a contemporary classical approach on Ma Fleur, as if Swinscoe is painting with softer, cooler colors. Conceived as the soundtrack to an unrealized film, the album was composed with the emotions that result from love lost, along with the physical and emotional wandering that results from such loss.
Paradoxically, Ma Fleur and Everyday have the ability to lift your spirits and crush your heart at the same time. They are as much uplifting as they are melancholy. They can simultaneously bring you tears of joy and tears of sadness. Swinscoe used his best talents of subtle melodies, open space, and patience to create these contemporary classical and jazz pieces with signature elements of downtempo intertwined, which, ultimately, have made The Cinematic Orchestra one of the most influential artists of the decade.