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The Orchestra: Look Away Now

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The dramatic role of soundtracks in movies is undisputed. Try to imagine Jaws without the scary “here comes a big shark” theme, or a horror film without the spooky church-organ or theremin. Very few movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, have challenged this approach, proving that you can build tension without music.

In contemporary music it has become somewhat vogue to produce soundtracks for imaginary movies. Judging by recent efforts, it seems that the exponents of this style mentally inhabit the mean streets. One group which is musically more dry-martini than narcotic is London’s The Orchestra. Comprised of classically trained musicians and a DJ, this 22-piece outfit strikes out into new territories with its own unique blend of electronica, clattering beats, horn stabs and silken, soaring strings. Having spent the past the two years honing its live reputation, the Orchestra finally released its debut album, Look Away Now.

Musically, this is textbook spy movie. However, in this case it's a very 21st-century James Bond – one who owns a laptop and drum machine. Their cinematic style has much in common with the widescreen textures of Goldfrapp, but it differs from its predecessors. Because these are real musicians, the resulting feel is very organic and immediate. Rather than being repetitive, it sounds structured. A standout track is “Suffering,” which blends smooth strings, '60s cop show flutes, synth-washes, a nice sax solo, harp swells and a killer bass line. The closing track, “Tune Three,” is 007 at his most aquatic, swimming through the dark water pursued by sinister men with harpoons. On the downside, the whole album clocks in at a meagre 32 minutes, and you can’t help but want a little more. All in all, a perfect soundtrack for those cold winter nights in your secret base inside on top of the mountain. You can almost hear those choppers approachingï

Track Listing: Best Before: 2019, Freaky Phobia, Infrasonic, Suffering, Guest Star, Tune Three.

Personnel: Fiona Brice, Gillan Cameron, Ruth Gottleib, Anna Morris, Roy Theaker, Lucy Wilkins - Violin; Reiad Chibah, Katherine Shave - Viola; Ian Burdge, Chris Warsey - Cello; Richard Pryce - Double Bass; Ruth Buxton - Clarinet; Nick Cartledge - Flute; Pete Wareham - Tenor Sax; Clare Hutchings - French horn; Tom Rees-Roberts, Nick Etwell - Trumpet; Barnaby Dickinson - Trombone; Colin McCann - Percussion; Tim Weller - Drums; Eilidh McRae - Harp; Andrew Skeet - Musical Director/Keyboards; Luke Gordon - Programming

Title: Look Away Now | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Drummond Street


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