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4.0 out of 5 stars
Ma Fleur
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2007
I'm a little tired of reading reviews by people who expect artists to keep churning out the same old stuff. It's particularly disappointing from Cinematics fans - who you would have thought would be more open minded than most.

If you're looking for a rehash of Everyday or Motion, you will be disappointed with this. It is a pretty big departure from those two outstanding records. On Ma Fleur, Swinscoe has gone for a more song-based approach. I think the most interesting comment of the reviews on here so far is the comparison with Antony & the Johnsons - the songs featuring Patrick Watson definitely share something in common with those guys. And I guess maybe that shouldn't have been such a big surprise when you combine the Cinematics' lush orchestration with broken-hearted torch songs. For me, this combination - new territory for this group - works wonderfully well.

I think the biggest disappointment for old school Cinematic Orchestra fans may be the marked absence of rhythm on this record. Luke Flowers is a brilliant drummer, and his propulsive beats were a key feature of Motion and, in particular, Everyday. He barely features here. But then this is entirely in keeping with the whole feel of Ma Fleur - intimate, downbeat, tender and heartbroken.

Is it as good as Motion and Everday? Probably not, when it comes down to it. Ultimately, I think the Cinematic Orchestra are better at creating powerful, brooding instrumentals than they are at writing torch songs. But this is still an excellent - and brave - record.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2007
I had hopelessly high expectations of this album. Mercifully, they have not just been met, but royally exceeded!

The album opener, 'To Build a Home' is simply exquisite; one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Quite stunning vocals from Patrick Watson and the legendary Fontella Bass bejewel the album on further tracks such as the beguiling 'Music Box' and the simply stunning 'Breathe'.

The arrangements throughout are immaculate and although I was in denial at first I am increasingly of the mind that this disc eclipses both of their previous herculean efforts 'Everyday' and 'The Man with the Movie Camera'.

The Cinematic Orchestra and Mr. Swinscoe are a national treasure and as such, you are urged to buy this fantastic album. Put simply, it will make your life a better place!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2014
I hardly ever write reviews. Only after reading the Robert Jackman review have I found it necessary to write this one. It is one thing for some reviewers to realise that this album is not to their taste. But for a professional critic to fail to LISTEN to this album properly that they fail to hear its quality seems to me to be near criminal. This for me is the true masterpiece from Swinscoe that he will never outdo. Even after repeated listening it remains one of my favourite ever albums, and one that will forever have a place in my listening. It has a delicacy and complexity and in its flow from track to track it achieves a true sense of a soundtrack to an imagined film - not dissimilar to the way that Come from heaven by Alpha so captures a sense of a perfect English summer. Listen to it. Give it time. It will reward you with near endless pleasure.
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on 18 July 2012
I have always enjoyed the music written, recorded and released by The Cinematic Orchestra as they blend Jazz with modern beats, synthesisers and melodies. "Ma Fleur" is quite different from their other albums in that it opens up new windows in their artistry and broadens their approach to putting together an album but, at the same time, it seems to have lost some of the quality in the music and confused the musicians, who have unforunately composed some very ordinary songs in the process.

The opener "To Build A Home" is a nicely composed Rock inspired piano led ballad with vocals that strangely resemble a combination of Damon Albarn and Chris Martin. The Jazz inspired and magical "Familiar Ground" takes its inspiration from "All That You Give" released back in 2002 and features the enigmatic Fontella Bass, who also provided vocals on the aforementioned track. "Child Song" is an atmospheric instrumental with clever changes in the melody to make it more interesting. "Music Box" is a gentle acoustic guitar led track with some male and female vocals, but is a few minutes too long and ends up being quite monotonous. "Prelude" is an orchestral ballad led by strings and is interestingly haunting in parts. "As The Stars Fall" is another uninspired instrumental which does not go anywhere and leaves me perplexed. "Into You" follows and only the addition of the vocals allows me to differenciate between the two songs. This then flows into the title track "Ma Fleur" which just sounds like a collection of instruments thrown together rather than a constructed song. Thankfully, "Breathe" is an interesting composition with an acoutic guitar led verse and a more energetic chorus with heavy beats and some original sounding vocals. "That Home" is a short track resembling "To Build A Home" and is a welcome change in tempo. The final song "Time & Space" has some good moments and is the longest creation on here.

It is not that The Cinematic Orchestra have run out of ideas, it is just that they have tried to combine too many different sounds on "Ma Fleur" without paying enough attention to the melodies. I am sure that they will do much better next time round and that this is just a small setback. Well, let's hope so anyway as this album is far from being perfect even though it has some positive moments.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2007
It never surprises me when people can be polarised on a matter of taste. For example, look at the voting on any film reviewed on IMDB - there will always be at least one person giving the film 10 and at least one person giving it 1 regardless of your perceived quality. In truth, very few works merit 5 stars in my opinion, but I simply find Jason Swinscoe's latest collection to exceed my expectations in so many ways, and it is an utter delight in life to have one's expectations exceeded.

From the percussive piano and acrobatic vocals of the hugely talented Patrick Watson to the heartrending strings to the folky soul of Lou Rhodes to the beautiful acoustic guitar arrangements to the smoky wisdom of Fontella Bass to the jazzy Rhodes to the.... it goes on an on, highlight after highlight.

Its an album of dichotomy - it is sparse but rich, melancholy but uplifting, measured but exciting. It is music pared down to the barest of emotions. I think this is the sort of music that Hans Bemman was referring to in "The Stone and the Flute".

Anyway, enough of my pseudy musings... buy it! Its an album of 11 superbly written, superbly arranged, superbly produced tracks performed by a group of professional musicians who are experts in their craft, at the top of their game and in "the zone".
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2008
Buy this record. Seriously that's all you need to know.

It doesn't matter who this is by or what they used to sound like, this collection of songs stands on its own as a thing of absolute beauty. I can't remember the last time I was so blown away by an album - and I listen to a lot of music.

This is from the very top of the top drawer. Truely exceptional.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2007
I was firmly in the 'disappointed' camp when I bought this record. I played it two or three times and went back to Motion and Everyday. Then I saw them play a blinding set at North Sea Jazz Festival, with Tom Chant in particularly stunning, reed-breaking form. They didn't play much from Ma Fluer, but what they did made me want to go back and listen again. It is true that a very elegaic tone runs through it, but if you give yourself up to the album's melancholy, it is every bit as effective and involving as the previous ones. Give it a go.
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on 30 May 2013
This music gives me faith in the future of music after a couple of bad buys recently. I was aware of the Cinematic Orchestra's work and already have "Man with a Movie Camera", which has a few great tracks on it. They've pulled out all the stops on this one though. My thoughts are that it a return to the concept album format (it seems to be roughly based around birth/death/rebirth themes). Bands used to do concept albums a lot, but it has fallen out of favour lately because of digital downloads/itunes etc. The whole piece just builds and builds towards the final track "Time & Space", which is the knock out blow to an album that I would count amongst my all time favourites.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2007
J.Swinscoe & crew had set a example with Everyday which raised everyones game in that genre with very good albums in the same vein from Loka & Nostalgia 77 so I was eagerly anticipating the next installment...and they did'nt dissapoint, although for a few horrid seconds I thought someone had slipped me a Coldplay record accidentally ...but that was only for a second or two until the beauty if the opening track took me away. There is a more melancholic acoustic feel to this album which as a concept piece works beautifully, whereas previous albums have taken me up, down & sideways this seems to keep you in the same mood & groove which allows you to feel the music more. I notices another reviewer mentioned Luke Flowers drumming and that he felt it hadnt progressed beat wise, and I can see his point, but he does the style so well why change. Childsong and As The Stars Fell being shining examples. Patrick Watson is a great vocal addition as well as teh great Fontella Bass.

Listen & Glisten.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2007
Its true that we can't expect bands to recreate the same album over and over again.... but that said neither should they forget what they are good at.

One of the things I believed was the main strength with the Cinematics was their contrast between the energy of the rhythms and the beauty of the melodies....
But where have the drums gone on this album? Did they fall out with the drummer and they tried to do it without him? Who knows.
What ever the reason, the energy is lost and with out it all that is left is something that is very very beautiful and very very dull.

Sorry guys.
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