The Cinematic Orchestra is a British Nu jazz and electronic music group that has put out their first album in 12 years, To Believe. Like the group’s name suggests, the music features a clash of soundtrack style movements, slow pacing and diverse instrumentation, that gently tosses a large dollop of refinement and class upon their downtempo nu-jazz stylings.
The shortest and first track “To Believe” featuring guest Moses Sumney, is a beautiful beginning. Tension is built upon bassy strings and the singing from Sumney is simply gorgeous. “A Caged Bird/Imitation of Life” is an electro-jazz odyssey in itself, featuring the rapping and singing of Roots Manuva. He bobs and weaves around layers of pulsating synth tones and energetic improvisational drumming. This track is very well structured and dynamic. “Lessons” features relaxing synth pads and textures floating above fast percussion and drumming. The tones are bright and sunny and the drums bring everything together and push the track forward.
“Wait For Now/Leave the World” begins as a slow-burning dramatic pop song, with guitar chords ringing around Tawiah serene vocals. Mid-track, the guitars and strings evolve into an ambient synth piece with the synths acting like gentle waves. The complex layering of synths and effects turns the track into a surreal cloud of sound. “Workers of Art” is full on soundtrack style/Nu classical track, with droney synths slowly transforming into distraught orchestral strings, emotional wafts of sound create a dense seriousness, and the light flicker of synth bleeps keeping things fresh and alien.
“A Promise” is another slow and serious buildup into an almost funky and high energy drum breakdown. The Cinematic Orchestra are masters of structure and dynamics, the track opens with slow-moving, droning synths, while vocals from Heidi Vogel add an essential human element among the synthetic tones. Six minutes in the energy builds and builds with world percussion and progressive instrumentation, finally exploding into a flurry of fast drumming and a complex mishmash of synths, all working together to build a world of alien sound.
The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Believe is a fantastic achievement, nailing complex arrangements and structures, utilizing collaborators very well without overusing them, and creating surreal and cinematic worlds with a diverse array of sounds and instruments.