Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Cinematic Orchestra - Sounds Like...



Overamplified and Unclear.

I put on my CD of Ma Fleur at volume 11 this morning just to reassure myself I hadn't turned up at Metallica concert accidentally last night. Loud, with HiFi, it's magical. It sounded a million time better than the shoddily mixed concert last night.

I love the jazz, love the ambient emo, just want to eviscerate whoever was behind the controls of the soundboard.

For the first few songs vocalist Heidi, 23 years old and with lungs big enough to inflate the Hindenburg was, incredibly, almost inaudible, I won't say OVER, nothing could get over that wall of noise, through the blur of the other instruments.

The bass was reverberating everywhere, the clarinet had lost all clarity, the electric quitar so enmeshed with the keyboards and the electronic stuff all at high pitch, all at maximum volume that it was like eating spaghetti with carbonara and bolognaise and arabiatta and pesto sauces all stirred in scalding hot and indistinguishable.


The over amplified guitar arrangement of To Build A Home sounded like it should have sounded incredible...

Instead it was inedible.

I recall that the guitarist (name?) indicated to the sound-mixer to turn the volume down just as he started this, but obviously if he did, it was not enough.

I was sitting maybe five rows behind where this video was taken.

I certainly enjoyed most of the concert, but when that wall came at me, as at the end of the video above, it was just too much. I remember thinking, if these guys were playing like this at the pub next door, I'd take a taxi somewhere else.


Here is their original version with Patrick Watson, the writer of the song, performing with a rather expanded TCO. This was the version we were expecting last night.

p.s. For those of you who know my name: we saw the band eating at Barossa afterward and I snuck up and asked the usual pianist if he though we might be related. I told him my grandfather was from Newcastle, but he told he, Nick, was born in Sydney!!!

p.p.s. The lyrics of "To Build A Home" are a) fucking hard to hear, b) fucking hard to understand. When looking to transcribe cut-and-paste the lyrics for you, I found this site,, in which there is more than just the (stolen!) words; people can add their interpretations as comments. Cool.

Must look up McArthur Park.

p.p.p.s. I can't just blame the acoustics of the concert hall - the Russian floppy-haired cellist orchestra last year sounded excellent.


Stephen Folan said...

I watched a programme about the record label and on the strength of the performance I bough the Best of 'The Violent Femmes' - I wonder why I never heard of these guys at the time.

expat@large said...

H-G: Might be missing some sarcasm there, am I? You saw TCO on TV and bought Violent Femmes instead?? LOL!

Stephen Folan said...

Missed a few words out - I saw a programme on the record label 'Rough Trade'. Never heard of the Cinematic Orchestra but I'll keep my ears open for them.

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