Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Reviews, Live Shows

220213 Breathing Forests by Gabriella Smith (world premier)

Sobbing beneath our masks

211203 "Seven Pillars" premier at Emerald City Music

Inspiring composition, mind-blowing performance

210911 Sylvan Esso at The Greek

Standard production, amazing music

210911 Tune Yards at Ford Amphitheater

Low expectations, high reward!

210129 Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Monochromatic, but enjoyable.

201201 Sylvan Esso "With Love" streaming

Heartfelt performance by one of my favorites

201010 NDT2: Dare to Say

Proving that streamed dance performances can move

201010 NDT: Endlessly Free

The Other You is my favorite choreography ever.

201010 Kaoru Watanabe: Haruka and Akira

"Kibou no Hikari" made me cry

200411 Arugakki at JCCC Montreal

First steps: shaky, exciting

200322 Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

Vladimir is mind-blowing

200221 DRUM Tao at Jorgensen Center

pina colada cotton candy

191116 Sylvan Esso at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Moving music, delightful dancing, incredible sound

191115 Ohmme at Teragram Ballroom

Fantastically quirky

191025 Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

Amazing music, over my head

191023 Frances Cone and Delta Rae at Bootleg

Introspective, thoughtful music vs showboating

191017 Cosmo Sheldrake at Echoplex

Great samples, less-inspiring looping

191013 Oregon Symphony premier of Andy Akiho Percussion Concerto

My new favorite piece of classical music.

191009 GoGo Penguin's Koyaanisqatsi at Regent Theater

A worthwhile addition to an iconic movie

190925 Cornelius at Echoplex

Bright lights, big music.

190726 New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Craving a "composition"

190717 Mitski at Hollywood Palladium

How to make pop songs performative?

190614 Imogen Heap at Greek Theatre

Hide and Seek and not much else

190601 Snarky Puppy at Orpheum

So Snarky!

190319 Monterey Symphony: Sound Waves Concert IV

A drifting concert. Water Concerto anchored by Chris Lamb

190316 Miyamoto is Black Enough, at Wallis

Holy shit this was a good show!

190127 Hidaka at International Dinner 2019

Go Hidaka Taiko!

190116 Third Coast Percussion with Hubbard Street Dance

Unsure why I was unmoved

181120 Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Solid show to adoring fans

181108 Birdtalker at Hotel Cafe

A special band, early in their career

180623 Olafur Arnalds at Cathedral Sanctuary

The power of sweet/sad melody!

180614 Dirty Projectors at El Rey Theater

Amazing quirk-pop!

180310 Miyake x UnitOne

UnitOne shines!

180224 Batare at La Mirada Theater

Laudably ambitious but scattered.

180223 QuiltCon 2018

Inspiring works, inspiring community.

180131 Kagami Kai at Asian Art Museum

Amazing mochi-making skills, frustrating calligraphy, and take-home encouragement

170416 Sigur Rós with LA Phil

Amazing concert with a few missed opportunities.

170115 A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai

Overwrought concept, thin music, tragic flowers

160927 Sigur Rós at Hollywood Bowl

Amazing sound needs mixed set-list

160918 Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Ambitious new work!

160409 Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

thought-provoking, inspiring, exhausting

130514 Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Powerfully uneventful ending

081012 Byron's Bottled Water Operas

Welcome. Stay and think.

Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A Home" is one of my go-to sad songs.  It was the only song from their catalogue that has really connected with me, but after finishing our livestream of Harbor and wanting to see how other bands approach the medium, Minh and I got a ticket for this show.  We were pleased we did.

The music was thoroughly enjoyable.  I liked many of the pieces a lot, especially songs two and three of the setlist where the drumming took more of a lead role.  The final song was my least favorite but is apparently popular with others, so I'm in the minority.  My guess is that the show was pre-recorded and not live, as small parts of the stage setup changed between songs.

To my ear, Cinematic Orchestra's music emphasizes tone and timbre over complicated rhythmic or melodic structure.  The builds are gradual, there are many layers, and the mix is thick, with no one instrument standing at the front.  It feels like "zone improvisation", where everyone vamps in a certain mood until Jason Swinscoe gives the signal to move on.  I sometimes craved more space in the mix, and I wanted the band to build more gradually behind soloists; the saxophone and the rhodes features felt unsupported.  And I'll admit I was bored at times, but that's subjective.  Without question, the music was intentional and well executed.

Livestream lives or dies by the videography, and this succeeded.  The shots were artful without overstepping.  Some of the multi-pane graphics drew too much attention to themselves, and the non-musician shots were distracting when they were moving-camera shots (like a shot of the camera moving down the isle in the audience seats), but these are silly quibbles.  The camera followed the musical action well and beautifully framed the players.  The lighting and staging were similarly tasteful.  The only major fault I found with the direction was the use of slow-motion shots.  For me, these miss the essential goal of a live show: to connect you to the musicians.

Setlist (from memory)

  • ?
  • ?
  • Sunsweep
  • You Are the Only One (?)
  • Channel 1 Suite
  • Flite
  • All That You Give


  • Jason Swinscoe, electronics
  • Luke Flowers, drums
  • Phil France, bass
  • Tom Chant, saxophone
  • Nick Ramm, piano / rhodes
  • Stuart McCallum, guitar
  • ?, upright bass
  • ?, vocals
  • ?, vocals
  • Leander Ward, director

Notes for self

  • Avoid conducting.  Remember to let Minh and others lead.
  • Find believable way to use lights as props.
  • In grooves, be patient but not static.