The Cinematic Orchestra

The aptly named LateNightTales series returns after a six month break with a mix from The Cinematic Orchestra.  Marking ten years of the conceptual compilation series, this twenty-third release seems to be one of the most honest expositions of the ‘late night’ philosophy.  Preceding this release, Snow Patrol and Matt Helders of Arctic Monkeys compiled the most recent selections.  Though these were enjoyable listening experiences, they seemed more reflective of artist influences and interests, rather than the traditional night-time expositions which the likes of Groove Armada have intricately crafted for the series (twice no less) in the past.  With the TCO at the helm of this latest offering, LNT seems to take a retrospective step back, to return to the jazz-fused origins of the series.

Having spent many an insomnia-plagued night in bed, falling away with LateNightTales when I was young, I decided to uphold this practice for my first foray into this CD, and sat down in the witching hour with a substantial supply of wine and cigarettes to once again transport myself on a retrospective step back of my own, through another musical journey.
And to be honest, this is no doubt the most arresting way to enjoy this compilation.  From the start, with Flying Lotus’ enveloping elegy to Alice Coltrane’s majestic harp mastery, the selection is masked in a midnight mystique of enthralling cadence and smoky perception that perfectly encapsulates the cinematic style of TCO’s own compositions.  The elusive finger-picking of Nick Drake, himself a famed night dweller, appears from Auntie’s Harp not as a separate track, but merely as an extension, accompanied by the subliminal crackle of the phonograph.  This delicate tapestry of instrumental styles and patterns develops well throughout the whole mix; a testament to the musical ingenuity and meticulous attention TCO have given to making this compilation one of the best in the series.  By the time you reach Terry Callier’s soulful twang, and DJ Food’s organic, rolling percussion-play, you are well and truly inaugurated onto the late night train journey.
Considering the arrangement of the selection, the eclecticism of the artists exhibited is quite an achievement - from those already mentioned through to the electro-acoustic coalescence of Thom Yorke and Bjork, through to the rhythmic rolling vibes of Songstress and the more melancholic city-scape fizz of Burial.  Yet the fluidity of the mix formulates an acknowledgement for the pacing and development of these contrasting styles, establishing an almost unfolding episodic narrative.  Perhaps the plethora of musical styles on offer is too disparate, but it gives a wayfaring, drifting sentiment to the assortment, owing well to the ‘latenight’ epithet.
In traditional LateNihghtTales style, the mix ends with an exclusive cover version by the compilers: TCO choosing the track Talking About Freedom.  Originally recorded in 1972 by long-time collaborator Fontella Bass, this cover is rhythmically slower, reflecting the burnout of the midnight oil as the compilation comes to a close.  Will Self contributes a discombobulating, grotesque nightmare to put the selection to bed, as only he knows how.  However, his strange story is not enough to challenge the musical infallibility of this excellent release.  LateNightTales have excelled in their own game here, and with TCO as their architects, they’ve formed a new benchmark for the afterhours compilation genre.    

Tracklist:The Cinematic Orchestra - LateNightTales

1. Flying Lotus - Anties Harp
2. Nick Drake - Three Hours
3. Eddie Gale - The Rain
4. Terry Callier - You're Gonna Miss Your Candyman
5. The Freedom Sounds feat Wayne Henderson - Behold The Day
6. DJ Food - Living Beats
7. Shuggie Otis - Aht Uh Mi Hed
8. Thom Yorke - Black Swan
9. The Cinematic Orchestra - Restaurant
10. Steve Reich - Electric Counterpoint
11. Bjork - Joga
12. Imogen Heap - Cumulus
13. St Germain - Rose Rouge
14. Songstress - Sea Line Woman
15. Sebastian Tellier - La Ritournelle
16. Burial - Dog Shelter
17. Burt Bacharach - South American Getaway
18. The Cinematic Orchestra ft Fontella Bass - Talking About Freedom (Exclusive Cover Version)
19. Will Self - The Happy Detective Part 3

Ashby Field