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Ma Fleur

4.1 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 May 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ninja Tune
  • ASIN: B000KB6D9Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,992 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. To Build A Home
  2. Familiar Ground feat Fontella Bass
  3. Child Song
  4. Music Box feat Patrick Watson
  5. Prelude
  6. As The Stars Fall
  7. Into You feat
  8. Ma Fleur
  9. Breathe feat Fontella Bass
  10. That Home feat Patrick Watson
  11. Time And Space feat Lou Rhodes
  12. As Much As I Ever Could

Product Description

BBC Review

Ma Fleur, long-awaited fifth composition from suave electro-jazz pioneers, The Cinematic Orchestra, is a reeking letdown - and in a way which only a British album could be. Listening to it is not unlike waiting for a train which never turns up.

You're longing to be transported somewhere - preferably to that realm of euphoria to which critics testified in their ardent praise of previous Orchestra efforts. And, quite typically, nothing comes. When the album finishes you're still slumped in the same spot - fifty-four minutes older and a good deal more jaded.

Opening track ''To Build A Home'' is a dismal forecast of things to come. It's cheerless and aloof, and its wandering vocals and plodding piano will leave Orchestra fans heartily holding back Coldplay comparisons.

Follow-up, ''Familiar Ground'', is a rare highlight, thanks to the sturdy vocals of accomplished soul singer Fontella Bass.

But it isn't long before normal service is resumed, and we're soon left tutting and sighing once more. The clutter of instrumental tracks in the middle of the album is painfully barren. The Orchestra seem far too eager to make an emotional impact. The result is clumsy and uncomfortable, with their sweaty-palms failing to get the slightest grip on our heartstrings.

In interviews, Orchestra main-man Jason Swinscoe has described Ma Fleur as the soundtrack for an 'imagined film'. And we should be grateful for that - without the make-believe storyboard, it's not hard to imagine this record lapping over into structureless self-indulgence.

On an emotional level Ma Fleur is far too acute and dreadfully artificial. Soundwise it's dreary and directionless - most unlikely to secure your affection. Far more interesting will be the sound of multitudes of music critics, as they rush to retract their premature hailing of Swinscoe as a nu-jazz genius. --Robert Jackman

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Review

"A raw and overwhelming surge of soul. Deeply moving." -- Mojo, 4/5 - A Lead Review

"Achieves a rare kind of poise, hovering between jazz, soul and orchestral soundtrack. They have never sounded so convincing than on this." -- Q

"Something Special." -- Observer Music Monthly 4/5 - A Top 10 Album

"The Cinematic Orchestra move closer towards a plain occupied by no other. Honest and pure. Jason Swinscoe's compositions stun with their originality." -- Blues and Soul

"You'd be very fortunate to hear another record this incredible this year." -- Word

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By BJ on 13 July 2007
Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
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.
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