The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe review – heartbreakingly brilliant

(Ninja Tune)

I’ve always found the Cinematic Orchestra too pretentious, too austere, a band whose ambitions outran their abilities. With this fourth album, 12 years after their last, that austerity is over. To Believe is heartbreakingly brilliant: a collection of exquisitely assembled songs that appear delicate from a distance before revealing a close-quarters core strength. Band leaders Jason Swinscoe and Dominic Smith have loosely arranged seven lightly jazzy tracks around the themes of belief and what it means to believe. Much as the pair attempt to make movies with their music, the best song has no dialogue: the meandering instrumental Lessons is a glorious balm, nine minutes of murmuring conversation between the players, dominated by Luke Flowers’ gently military drums. It has depth and meaning without context, the ideal soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist. The sweeping grandeur of A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life is another cinematic collaboration with the always articulate and engaging Roots Manuva, a sort-of sequel to the epic All Things to All Men, and just as good. Every song here could easily be five or 10 minutes longer. A triumph.

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