Cinematic Orchestra

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
Genres Nu jazz, downtempo, acid jazz, electronica
Years active 1999-present
Labels Ninja Tune, Domino Records
Associated acts DJ Food
Members Jason Swinscoe
Phil France
Luke Flowers
Tom Chant
Nick Ramm
Stuart McCallum
Past members Jamie Coleman
T. Daniel Howard
Federico Ughi
Alex James
Patrick Carpenter
Clean Sadness


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.

Song appearances

“To Build a Home”, from the album Ma Fleur and featuring the vocals of the Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson, has been used extensively in film and television. In 2008, the song was used for the Chivas Regal Live with Chivalry advertisement. It was used for Sam “OB” O’Brien’s departure in a 2008 episode of the British soap Hollyoaks. It has been featured in the films Trinidad, The Tree, “Polytechnique (film)”, and the 2011 shorts Rapha Continental and This is Brighton. The song had also been used for episodes of jPod, Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Criminal Minds, Packed to the Rafters, Ugly Betty, On Thin Ice, Suits, Top Gear, on the 2013 broadcast of comic relief, on Supersize vs Super Skinny, the Australian reality series The Block Sky High and on The Big C. It was also featured in August of 2013 for an extended trailer of the upcoming third series of Homeland on Showtime. It appeared in the 2009 documentary Ingredients: Who’s Your Farmer? about the local food movement. The song’s slow, melancholy melody provided an easy, smooth transition from the first half of the documentary to the next. In 2012 the song was used in a video named “The Most Astounding Fact,” in which science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson answers a question posed by a Time magazine reader. The video was edited by freelance videographer Max Schlickenmeyer who posted it to YouTube, where it garnered more than 5 million views. In 2013, the song was used in an advertisement for Guinness featuring wheelchair basketballers. The song was also used in a UK advert for Sky Atlantic featuring Dustin Hoffman in front of a New York skyline. The advert was produced by WCRS. It is featured in the concluding scene of the 2014 Vanessa Hudgens film “Gimme Shelter.”

A shorter version of the song “That Home”, with a slightly different composition, has also been used on occasion, such as an episode of Teen Wolf, in an episode of Suits, in the trailer for the 2011 Sundance award-winning film Another Earth and in the ABC drama Defying Gravity. It also featured in the seventh season finale of the FOX dance competition So You Think You Can Dance. It was also featured in a trailer for the NBC drama Awake. Most recently it was featured as one of the dance performance songs in the 2012 motion picture Step Up Revolution. The Public Radio International radio show This American Life often uses The Cinematic Orchestra song “Drunken Tune” from the album Man with a Movie Camera.

The final scene and closing credits of the 2006 film Kidulthood feature the song “All Things to All Men” from the album Every Day. An instrumental version of the song had previously been used in the British television drama Hustle. The song also featured on the British soap Hollyoaks in December 2009, and appears on Wonders of the Solar System briefy (Thin Blue Line), narrated by Professor Brian Cox.

In December 2012, the song “Arrival of the Birds” from the soundtrack for The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos appears in a commercial for the women’s perfume Acqua di Gioia by Giorgio Armani.

An excerpt near the 16 minute mark of the “In Motion #1” track “Entr’acte” was used in part two of “Top Gear’s Africa Special” that originally aired on 10 March 2013.

The song “Channel 1 Suite” was used in a trailer for the TV series Lost directed by David LaChapelle for Channel 4.


Studio albums

Year Album Peak positions
1999 Motion  –  –  –
2002 Every Day 124  –  –
2007 Ma Fleur 71 37 94

Other albums

  • Remixes 98–2000 (2000)
  • Man with a Movie Camera (2003)
  • Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2008)
  • The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos OST (2009)
  • Late Night Tales : The Cinematic Orchestra (2010)
  • The Cinematic Orchestra presents In Motion #1 (2012)


Year Single Peak positions Album
2012 “To Build a Home” 113 Ma Fleur
  • “Diabolus” (1999)
  • “Channel 1 Suite”/”Ode to the Big Sea” (1999)
  • “All That You Give” (feat. Fontella Bass) (2002)
  • “Horizon” (feat. Niara Scarlett) (2002)
  • “Man with the Movie Camera” (2002)
  • “Breathe” (2007)
  • “To Build a Home” (2007)
  • “Entr’acte” (2011)
  • “Manhatta” (2011)
  • “Arrival of the Birds” (2012)