By Björk Óskarsdóttir
Our imperfect lives, human fear, coping mechanisms, God-complex, the need to surrender one’s judgement to follow someone or something else, those are some of the themes covered on Cinematic Orchestra’s latest album, To Believe. In fact, the whole album apart from two tracks feature vocal artists, all delivering quite transparent lyrics which portray different perspectives to the same, ongoing theme. The lyrics and the music are both quite univocal, often bittersweet, but thankfully there is no one preaching a “message” here, the nature of the concept is more observational and reflective. Arguably, the strongest lyrics belong to Roots Manuva on A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life.
Starting off with Moses Sumney's masterfully controlled, seemingly multi-dimensional (“wide-ranged” does not fully describe it) voice, we head to an upbeat trip around the theme of faith. After the mellow beginning there is an eruption of energy throughout the second track, which goes on to one of the two instrumental tracks, Lessons. Even in the more downbeat tracks of the album, there is always a new colour throughout. It always stays interesting and takes you on a trip, but evidently not only for the sake of avoiding “down time”. The subtle but powerful changes through the tracks are clearly intentional and for bigger purposes. Three of them even bear two names. Although all of the tracks are pretty strong as they are, one can't help mentioning the “Zero 7” song, Zero One/This Fantasy ft. Grey Reverend, which arrives as a pleasant, heartwarming surprise with a nice and original, syncopated melody.
One of the most notable qualities of To Believe is the very clever usage of borrowing, then releasing time and tension. Another distinctive factor of the album is the energy of it. It is energetic even when portraying vulnerability, and it works out. This successful flow is owed both to the aforementioned facts, but also to the five different vocal artists who give generously from their artistry to the tracks. Luke Flowers on drums deserves much credit as well for his rhythms which pull the whole creation together. To Believe lets you space out and revive yourself. Recommended for long drives.