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December 17 - 24, 1999

[Music Reviews]

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*** The Cinematic Orchestra


(Ninja Tune)

The latest offering from the Brit beatheads at Ninja Tune is a surprisingly subdued affair with acoustic bass vamps, horn arrangements, and serious sax blowing, all of which take precedence over the label's usual turntable trickery and pomo cut 'n' pasting. Despite the jazz feel, Motion is not another tired acid-jazz session but a curious electro-jazz hybrid that draws from both the spacy late-'60s-era fusion of cats like Donald Byrd and the moody film noir atmospheres and orchestrations of Lalo Schifrin. These influences are filtered through the production techniques of composer, producer, and mastermind J. Swinscoe, who combines the jazzy vamps and horn charts with angular Art Blakey-esque drum programming, sultry Nina Simone samples, and dubbed-out ambient textures. It's mood music that operates on many levels -- organic and electronic, improvised and arranged, background and foreground; yet it's all so seamlessly arranged that you hardly feel any tension.

-- Michael Endelman
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