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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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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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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 10 August 2007
I am compelled to write a review for this album purely from seeing some 'reviewers' giving it 1 and 2 stars. I am all for people having an opinion, but seriously, from whatever angle you approach the Cinematics latest, it just delivers on every level. For those who cannot see this, I truly feel sorry for them, because in my humble opinion this may be one of the best albums I have ever heard.
Having waited a long time since Everyday, and having been a Cinematics fan since day dot, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I inserted Ma Fleur into my stereo for the first time. Everyday was a classic, and easily one of my favourite albums. How could they possibly top that? A few chords into 'To Build a Home', and I knew they had created something special.
The opening track is such a deep, moving piece I defy anyone to listen without a shiver along the spine or a tug at the heart. I have a friend who is always interested in what I am listening to, hoping to pick up a gem or two. He popped over one evening and I sat him down and told him to listen. After letting the song breathe all the way through I turned to him and asked what he thought. "That is one of the best pieces of music I think I have ever heard" was his reply. He bought the album the next day.
From there Ma Fleur ebbs and flows, becoming more a than the sum of it's individual parts. It is so meticulously crafted, the melodies so beautifully produced, that whether you look at it from an emotional, technical or musical standpoint, it is a masterpiece, and something Jason Swinscoe & co should be incredibly proud of. By the time the last string fades on 'Time and Space' you will have been on an aural journey the likes of which you will probably have never been on before. Ma Fleur will be revered and most likely imitated for years to come.
I see albums on here all the time with 5 stars. Some I have bought, regretably, on the strength of that. Ma Fleur has 4 stars. Even by the extraneous nature of the Amazon rating system this feels like a grave injustice.

So, to anyone thinking about purchasing this album, stop thinking. Just buy it. Take no heed of those 'fans' who believe this album to somehow disappoints. This is the evolution of the Cinematic Orchestra, and it has been worth the wait.

In a word; Astounding.
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on 26 April 2015
Gentle, well written and warming music for the autumn and winter lazy days and nights. I think that the C O stand out so well because they have an understated unique beauty to their sound which to me stands out beyond so much typical sounding chillout.
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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 29 June 2007
I don't think i've ever known an album to split opinion quite so much. Is this the sign of a truly great album? Possibly. Yes it's a bit different to their last albums, but look at other bands born out of the big chill / nu jazz scene, where are they now? Exactly. They have matured, these songs are growers, they're unpretentious, universal. There is no other album to compate it to, it stands alone and complete. If Autumn leaves could sing this is how they'd sound. There are less beats tho, its folkier so that might be a clue as to whether you'll like it or not. BUt i find it refreshing, modern music is based too much on beats, its nice to have such a chilled listen, and when the drums do kick in it sounds all the better for it.
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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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