The Swimmer







Phil France has announced details of the release of his debut solo album. The Swimmer was originally released on 26-2 Recordings in 2013. Now re-released 3rd March 2017 and available on Gondwana Records. 

The track listing of the album is as follows:

  1. The Swimmer
  2. Transition
  3. Kubrick
  4. Joy of Brass
  5. London Park Hotel
  6. December
  7. Animator

As a principal collaborator alongside Jason Swinscoe in the Cinematic Orchestra, Phil France is responsible for some of the most heartrendingly beautiful music created in recent times. Co-writing, arranging and producing on the Cinematic Orchestra albums including Everyday, Man With The Movie Camera, Ma Fleur and also the triple award winning soundtrack for The Crimson Wing nature documentary, France's skills have always extended beyond his bass-lines.

Born Elland, West Yorkshire in 1971 and raised in Huddersfield where he met Jason Swinscoe and introduced him to the music of Charles Mingus he began as principle bassist in Kirklees Youth Orchestra and Huddersfield Philharmonic before studying History at Newcastle University and later going onto post graduate course in Jazz and Studio Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. He would then join the newly formed Cinematic Orchestra in 1997 having reconnected with Swinscoe through mutual friends.

Now living in Manchester, he initially made the move back to his native Yorkshire a couple of years ago after some time in London, where he set to work teaching himself the finer details of programming and began work on The Swimmer. Deeply emotive and epic in scale, it draws it influences from the great second wave of film composers including John Carpenter and Vangelis, as well as minimalist composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

France's skill, in this album, as well as his work with The Cinematic Orchestra, is in soundtracking human emotion - it is full of heartbreak and recovery, strength, honesty and frailty, it is meditative and hopeful.


  • The Swimmer is the debut solo album from Cinematic Orchestra double bassist Phil France. Having taught himself programming skills, France takes the lead on this 28-minute respite from the hurtling world of one-click culture. In the title track's calm serenity, nothing much happens, but it has a vibrancy that distinguishes it - like the rest of the album - from run-of-the-mill ambience. The music evokes tranquillity, underlined by a cover image of a swimmer diving against a backdrop of a city's detritus. London Park Hotel has urgency and December goes positively over the top in comparison to the other material here, but does so with an understated grace-fulness. Taking its reference points from Philip Glass, John Carpenter and Vangelis, The Swimmer is sweetly captivating and suggestive of Mogwai without the noise or the very best of the Windham Hill label.
    MOJO * * * *
  • 03. Phil France - The Swimmer LP [Twentysix-Two Recordings] The Swimmer LP for me is an album-inspiration. It is ideal for creation. Impressions from it are so amazing, it’s like you come into the clear sea and feel the essence of the universe. When I got tired of all music, I turn France' LP on and get on the heavenly Olympus, where all is quiet, peaceful, harmonious and feel the spirit of freedom. [Artem Super Ikra]
  • To swim is to submit to a silent solitary sport with a hallelujah of exhaustion, and perhaps clarity. Phil France`s music here follows this pursuit. The repetition of strokes, length after length of cold tiled blue. A focus on nothing but movement and breath. The world cleansed away. Forgotten. Muscle forging forwards with power and grace. Poppy Ackroyd piano, cymbals rise and fall. Electronic figures dance in synchronicity within cinematic orchestration. Midnight (in a perfect world) drums crash against your body in waves, until you`re left with lungs that hurt and legs that won`t stand. On all fours, reaching for air. The way I cried the day my grandmother died. To swim is to lose distraction and worry. All that matters is style, which in turn determines survival and speed. How you fall has to be important, even if others will notice only where you land.
  • The Cinematic Orchestra has been responsible for some heartbreakingly beautiful music. Part of that is surely due in part to the contributions by collaborator Phil France, who recently release his gorgeous, haunting solo piece - The Swimmer. The Swimmer is a seven track suite that plays like in imagined score for a film that doesn’t exist. One listen to the title track and you’ll start to see that France is a talent to be reckoned with all his own. The hypnotic, piano led beauty calls to mind the eerie work of John Carpenter's synth heavy film scores, but with more of a delicate longing, than an intense pressure. By the time the haunting strings push through in the back half, it feels like you're hearing some stirring Phillip Glass-esque finale, but filtered through a four minute pop song. The entire piece of gorgeous and riveting and absolutely something that requires being heard.
  • There is a long list of wonderful music I have missed in 2013 (not to mention all the years before). As songs keep piling up and my time gets less and less, I wanted to share one of the top albums of last year, which I missed: The Swimmer by Phil France is an outstanding piece of emotive music. Do yourself a favor and listen to it in its entirety.
  • A great film score is one of the most beguiling and amazing works of art to me. It exists as a work of art designed to work in concert with (and support) another work of art. It has to subtlely emote a truth about the thing, without overwhelming any given moment or cheesily phone in some obvious emotional signifier. And after all that, it should still be listenable on it’s own terms without the picture. A really great score will remind you of a feeling, not necessarily a definitive image. That’s why although I can appreciate the epic swooning of a John Williams or Hans Zimmer score, if I want peaceful inspiration I’ll reach for Cliff Martinez’s music for Soderbergh’s “Solaris” or “The Limey”. The Cinematic Orchestra’s Phil France has a new album called “The Swimmer” that works like a stunningly gorgeous score to a film that doesn’t exist, but would be a Cannes phenom if it did. As deeply immersive as it’s sport namesake, France has created a work that is engrossing, meditative and intensely emotive stuff. Triumphant and lonesome, focused and passionate…it’s insightful and precise on a minimalist scale. This is Steve Reich/Phillip Glass territory where you go into it and the space in the music is just as powerful as any given note and the music envelops, reflects and reveals you on the other side.
  • Phil France is no stranger to film composition, as both solo artist and as the bass-player/co-composer, spiritual guidance figure of The Cinematic Orchestra. There’s often been something so stirring in the sound of that project and whether it’s a deep, swirling bass-line, or a waft of film score-derived mood there’s a good chance that France was at the helm of it. He’s created music for silent film and documentary and here, with new solo release, The Swimmer, France takes a leaf out of fellow bass-players’ playbooks – both Charlie Jones with his Love Form album and Sebastien Tellier’s Confection – by creating the score to a film that doesn’t quite (yet?) exist. For The Swimmer it’s all Philip Glass/Steve Reich minimalism with something always just about to burst through – you hear that on the opening brace of the title track and Transition and then through the “holding patterns” of Kubrick and Joy of Brass we are suspended, there’s anticipation now, because some of the tricks and feels of The Cinematic Orchestra are arriving and then with London Park Hotel we have the first true glimpses of that sound, or those found sounds (as it were) and also something that matches up well with what you might expect from just looking at the Kraftwerk-meets-Richard Wright album cover. December has a build towards the rolling snares of the Cinematic Orchestra – that move to widescreen and then it all comes to rest with final track, Animator. It’s a short excursion, but a beautiful, insular journey. As deeply immersive as the act of, well, swimming; you take a look at that cover image while listening to this, you image that plunge as you surge forward into this music. And less than half an hour later you’ve come up for air but ready, almost straight away, to take another lap or two. This is a beautiful album, an extraordinary listening experience, reminiscent too of the instrumental passages in that wonderful Ghostland album.