News & Reviews
The Cinematic Orchestra leaves SF lounge lizards basking in bass
Review by BPM Smith
The Cinematic Orchestra
Saturday night at Bimbo’s 365 Club here in San Francisco, and the
UK-based troupe sure put on a euphoric show. After a rough patch in
their very first song -- the highs on Jason
Swinscoe’s electronic effects were too high for a second which
totally burst my bubble -- they recovered to do a fantastic set that
combined tracks from their new album "Ma Fleur" with some old time
favorites from "Man With a Movie Camera" that had catapulted them to
cult status among American Downtempo fans and stoners worldwide.
Highs: The Cinematic
Orchestra stretched out their old five and six minute tracks into
seamless, 20-minute jam sessions. At one point I had to leave my
martini and beer-filled table to dive into the large crowd in front of
Bimbo’s stage to feel, not just hear, the heavy bass. Cinematic often
churned out double bass lines, combining the Electronic-generated Hip
Hop beats of Swinscoe with the adroit rhythms of bass player Phil France. Providing soaring
meldies for the set was Tom Chant,
who played both the alto and soprano saxophones.
New vocalist Fontella
Bass (pictured left), of the Art Ensemble of
Chicago, added a bluesy feel to Cinematic’s layered tones of jazz
instrumentation, Electronic effects and thumping bass. Her gorgeous
rendition of their new track "As The Stars Fall" was simply ethereal
and lifted the audience into a dreamlike state.
Lows: The table full of
bird brained bitches who wouldn’t stop cackling at the top of their
voices even while The Cinematic Orchestra played. Why would you want to
hear yourself talk about nothing when one of the world’s best Downtempo
bands is playing in San Francisco for the first time in four years?…
Parking in North Beach on a Saturday night, of course.
The Club: Bimbo’s, with
two elegant table and chair filled rooms that could’ve shot straight
from the 1950s, has a long-standing tradition of scheduling top
Downtempo Electronica bands from around the world. Past performers
include the legendary Kruder &
Dorfmeister, and later this week French band Air will play during two consecutive
nights. Bimbo’s draws a chilled out crowd of twenty and
thirtysomethings ranging from urban hipsters to stoned granolas. As a
result, security is much more pleasant than most San Francisco clubs,
where burly bouncers often have a chip on their shoulders. They handled
guest listers and will callers in a prompt, friendly manner.
Endnote: In a
meet-and-greet after the show, one would-be groupy cooed, "You guys
played a rough and juicy show" with obviously sexual connotations.
Earlier I spotted Chant smoking a rolled "cigarette" before the show.
Guitarist Stuart McCallum
meanwhile told WORD’N’BASS that The Cinematic Orchestra’s next project
will be a long-rumored live performance, saying American fans should
"watch for a live album soon." Also, I was able to score both vinyl and
CD copies of "Ma Fleur," so watch for some phat remixes in my upcoming
Downtempo sets during the WORD’N’BASS Show.
WORD’N’BASS.com Editor BPM Smith
is a financial journalist, Drum & Bass DJ and author. After
finishing his new novel "Bistro de Mars," he will spend his time
searching for actress Vanessa Hudgens
to give her the spanking she
deserves. He enjoys heavy bass, literature and martinis consisting of a
50-50 split between quality dry gin and vermouth -- shaken, ice cold
and never dirty. E-mail him your comments, gossip or shout-outs at
editor (at) wordnbass (dot) com
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