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Don't mention Chill-out
on 17 August 2004
I'm not going to do the obvious and put this album in the much lamented 'chill-out' box just because the songs are slower than 120bpm (not all of them are, 'Flite' is about 140bpm and is in 7/8 time!), but if you like Zero 7 then you will love this album. Gilles Peterson puts it like this "Don't say 'chill out' or 'hardcore' but think both".
The Cinematic Orchestra share a common laid-back, jazzy, left field approach to music with Zero 7, but it is there that the similarity ends. The Cinematic's are clearly more influenced by Hip-Hop, with heavy, plodding beats and scratching running alongside clarinets, organs and harps. They even get the UK Hip-Hop legend Roots Manuva to provide vocals on 'All Things to All Men'.
There is a warmth and roundness to the sound of this album that makes you feel like you are wrapped up in a blanket on a winter day. The tracks are what I would describe as epic. This isn't because they're long (though the longest track stands at over 11 minutes); it means that they are big on sound, like Zero 7's 'End Theme'. Each track builds through a complex layering of instruments that mean you are still discovering new things on the 100th listen.
This sound is very well summed up by the name of the band as is sounds very cinematic. This doesn't mean that it sounds like the soundtrack to a film, but rather that it is to mainstream music what well made cinema is to television.
As the Orchestra part of their name suggests, the sound is made up, quite heavily, from traditional instruments ranging from the double bass and harp to the clarinet and saxophone. However, alongside this are cleverly manipulated injections of electronic sound that help to fill out the sound and separate it from traditional jazz, but without feeling obtrusive.
In short, this is an album of true music that is both aurally and emotionally moving. Whether you want some relaxing background music, or the musical equivalent of a good book that you can really get into and think about every word, this is the album for you. One of my all-time favourites.