Records Revisited: The Cinematic Orchestra – Every Day (2002)

28.05.2022
The Cinematic Orchestra - Every Day (Records Revisited)
With their second album, The Cinematic Orchestra formed the perfect match of name and music. »Everyday« builds cinematic shots through revelling jazz that hasn’t lost any of its magic 20 years later.

»An awakening bass wipes the sleep from its eyelids. Stretches in the morning light and warms the strings. The first melody of the day chimes as the city opens its eyes.« 20 years ago, with these words I tiptoed into my article about The Cinematic Orchestra’s album »Everyday« for the Goon Magazine. Without knowing it, I had pinpointed what would only become apparent a year later: That »Everyday« was based on sketches that had emerged from the musical scoring of the 1929 film »Man With A Movie Camera«.

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Jason Swinscoe and his project The Cinematic Orchestra were commissioned back in 2000 to provide live musical scoring for the groundbreaking silent film by Russian director Dziga Vertov at the Porto Film Festival. At that time, however, the result was meant to be a one-off venture. It was not until early 2003, almost a year after the release of »Everyday«, that the soundtrack and DVD were to be released.

Riding The Coltrane Vibe

What is surprisingly consistent about this coincidence of my associations and the origin of the music on »Everyday« is that Dziga Vertov’s film (without me knowing it at the time) begins precisely with such a scene of an awakening city. Thus, Jason Swinscoe had already achieved his goal with me: »There is film music which you can take away from the film, which exists on its own and it still has an idea of a story, an ieda of emotions and feelings,« as he told Planet Interview in 2000.

Despite the identical nucleus of »Everyday« and the follow-up soundtrack album »Man With A Movie Camera«, both works retain their uniqueness and thus raison d’être. One does not cannibalize the other, is not a second-rate knock-off. During my interview with Jason Swinscoe in 2002, the head of TCO kept coming back to John Coltrane.

The exceptional saxophonist and jazz composer had performed the standard »My Favorite Things« multiple times over the many decades of his music career, but with leaving himself »open to a thousand ways to recreate the song’s structures,« as Swinscoe explained. Live recordings often differed in significant ways. Coltrane, however, always kept the soul of the piece alive. »It’s all that Coltrane vibe,« Swinscoe enthusiastically proclaimed TCO’s principle over the landline phone. The music was 60s. The sound was contemporary. The principle was jazz.

The Color Brings The Artwork To Life

»Everyday« and »Man With A Movie Camera« thus form a kindred spirit but maintain independence. They are connected by dynamic brushstrokes and movements that are also central to Dziga Vertov’s film. The fluidity of the cinematic, the tracking shot, the visualization of movement and emotion flow through their veins. In the concrete finishes, however, they remain individual works.

In doing so, Jason Swinscoe followed a principle that he knew from his art studies and his love for conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s. »In music, as in painting, creation never begins with the detail but with the primary layer,« Swinscoe described his approach. »The foundational colour, which gives the work its soul. Which has the ability to touch the observer.«

Die Musik war 60er. Der Sound war Gegenwart. Das Prinzip war Jazz.

Not only did this primary color, based on Vertov’s camera movements, provide Swinscoe and his collaborators with the freedom as well as direction to work out the details for their respective conceptual approaches (soundtrack vs. studio album). »Man With A Movie Camera« ran more epic, orchestral arcs, while »Everyday« in part leaned more closely to song structure. The latter is supported in no small degree by the great vocalists Fontella Bass and Roots Manuva, who added extra soul to some of the songs.

Not only did this primary color, based on Vertov’s camera movements, provide Swinscoe and his collaborators with the freedom as well as direction to work out the details for their respective conceptual approaches (soundtrack vs. studio album). »Man With A Movie Camera« ran more epic, orchestral arcs, while »Everyday« in part leaned more closely to song structure. The latter is supported in no small degree by the great vocalists Fontella Bass and Roots Manuva, who added extra soul to some of the songs.