The Cinematic Orchestra is a British jazz and electronic band, created in 1999 by Jason Swinscoe. The group is signed to independent record label Ninja Tune. In addition to Swinscoe, the band includes former DJ Food member PC (Patrick Carpenter) on turntables, Luke Flowers (drums), Tom Chant (saxophone), Nick Ramm (piano), Stuart McCallum (guitar) and Phil France (double bass). Former members include Jamie Coleman (trumpet), T. Daniel Howard (drums), Federico Ughi (drums), Alex James (piano), and Clean Sadness (synthesizer, programming). The most recent addition to the band is Mancunian guitarist Stuart McCallum. Swinscoe and Carpenter (PC) have also recorded together under the band name Neptune.
The Cinematic Orchestra's sound, in both live and studio contexts, employs a live band which improvises along with a turntablist and electronic elements such as samples provided by Swinscoe. In their studio releases Swinscoe will often remix the live source material to produce a combination of live jazz improvisation with electronica, such that it is difficult to tell where the improvisation ends and the production begins.
Swinscoe first formed a group called Crabladder in 1990, whilst studying Fine Art at Cardiff College, releasing one official single on his own Power Tools label. In 1994, Swinscoe was given a DJ spot on Heart FM, a pirate radio station in south London.
Their debut album, Motion, was released in 1999. The critical success of that album led to them being asked to perform at the Director's Guild Awards ceremony for the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to film director Stanley Kubrick.
The band were asked by the organisers of the Porto European City of Culture 2001 festival to write a new score to Dziga Vertov's classic 1929 Russian silent film Man with a Movie Camera, to be performed live in accompaniment with a showing of the film. The work differed from the band's usual compositions due to its live performance, ruling out the post production work that was present on Motion. The Cinematic Orchestra toured with the work and later released it on an album of the same name. Many of the compositions originally created for Man with a Movie Camera were later adapted from live form (adding in vocal tracks and electronic elements, among other changes) for their next album, Every Day. It reached #54 in the UK Albums Chart in May 2002.
In 2006, The Cinematic Orchestra created a cover version of the Radiohead song "Exit Music (For a Film)" that appeared on an album titled Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads. In this piece the band slowed down the tempo of the original, divided the timbre into four sections beginning with saxophone, to the classical guitar, to the electric guitar, ending the piece with the same simple acoustic guitar rhythm as the original version.
The Cinematic Orchestra released the album Ma Fleur on 7 May 2007. Several songs feature Patrick Watson, Fontella Bass, or Lou Rhodes on vocals, with Rhodes and Watson sharing vocals on one song.
The Cinematic Orchestra recorded the soundtrack to the Disneynature film The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (in French: Les Ailes Pourpres: Le Mystère des Flamants), released in France on 15 December 2008. The score was performed live with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at The Union Chapel, Islington on 17 September 2009 and won the award for best original score at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Festival In Wyoming, USA on 1 October 2009.
Ninja Tune invited the Cinematic Orchestra to perform at the twentieth anniversary gala performance of the label at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2010.
In 2011, the Cinematic Orchestra commissioned a series of compositions for avant-garde short films that were performed at the Barbican Centre under the auspices of its curating a series entitled "In Motion," (also featuring Dorian Concept with saxophonist Tom Chant, Grey Reverend, and Austin Peralta), and it subsequently released an album under this title in 2012.