Setlist: The Cinematic Orchestra @ the Walt Disney Concert Hall on 11.23.19

Now that I’ve had a bit of break from the blog, with a few random postings in between, I think I’m ready to start back up again. It’s not going to be a full-on return. But it will be a return … meaning a somewhat greater increase in post frequency, if all the forces align the way I’d like them to.

So without further delay, I’m going to begin with a bit of proggy inspiration from UK’s classy electro-jazz outfit The Cinematic Orchestra. They’re primarily an instrumental act, with occasional vocalists, that deal in freeform downtempo and classical/jazz riffs, slightly trip-hopped with a 20 year foundation in the London electronic scene. They’re signed to Ninja Tune, which, if you know the label, tells you plenty about the level of quality these Brits operate at.

Musically, the Cinematic Orchestra creates sprawling aural landscapes that move and groove, shuffling in several seemingly wanderlust directions of exploratory improvisation. Yet, behind all the riffing keys and sax solos, they travel with focused determination, which, when viewed from the outskirts of the bigger picture, represents a remarkably well-crafted arc of sonic storytelling.

Prior to Thanksgiving, The Cinematic Orchestra, comprised of founding member Jason Swinscoe and an additional 12 members, including a four-piece string section, performed The Walt Disney Concert Hall to commemorate their first album in 12 years, “To Believe.” I don’t exactly recall when they last toured the states. But I’m guessing it’s a comparable number of years. And I doubt it was as fully realized as it was for this Nov. 23 performance.

I don’t actually have any footage of this show, since recording wasn’t allowed. But I can confidently say this was one of the finest performances I’ve seen this year. It’s one of those shows where you can just drift off into the lofty peaks and spatial crevices of these intricately inviting tunes, and just kind of lose yourself for a warmly chilled hour and a half of sound-driven dreamtime.

They featured quite a few vocalists, which came as a surprise to me, since I’ve always viewed them through the lens of instrumental composition. But then again, they placed the show’s focus primarily on the new album, which I actually love , and which features a number of lyrically motivated tracks. I’m particularly fond of the torchy lounge cabaret of “A Promise,” the inspirationally soulful “Wait For Now”/Leave the World,” and the laidback euphoric tension of the smooth “Zero One/This Fantasy.”

In the absence of some of the typical footage fare I tend to bring to the table, I’ve assembled the setlist as a playlist for the show. It includes the aforementioned, as well as a few classics for those paying attention during their 20 year tenure, namely “Chanel 1 Suite” and “Man with the Movie Camera.”

That’s all for this evening. Enjoy!