The Cinematic Orchestra release the second single ‘A Promise’ (premiered today via XLR8R) from their forthcoming album “To Believe” (out 15th March on Ninja Tune). If “To Believe” represents their most complete artist statement to date ‘A Promise’ is the apogee of their inimitable sound – intimacy without sentimentality, intensity without hyperbole, gravitas without self-importance. Long time collaborator Heidi Vogel’s lustrous voice graces plunging piano chords and shimmering electronics building into Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s swelling strings that hand off to drummer Luke Flowers’ pulsating drums in the sort of crescendo that distills the energy and emotion for which they are known.
On “To Believe” founding member Jason Swinscoe and longtime partner Dominic Smith have enlisted album contributions from collaborators old and new: Moses Sumney, Roots Manuva, Heidi Vogel, Grey Reverend (vocalist on Bonobo’s ‘First Fires’), Dorian Concept and Tawiah (Mark Ronson band, Kindness). Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (Flying Lotus, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote) features on strings, Dennis Hamm (Flying Lotus, Thundercat) on keys and photographer and visual artist Brian “B+” Cross collaborated with Swinscoe and Smith on the album’s concept. The record was mixed by multiple Grammy winner Tom Elmhirst (David Bowie, Frank Ocean, Adele) in Jimi Hendrix’s legendary Electric Lady Studios. The album artwork comes courtesy of The Designers Republic (Aphex Twin).
“To Believe” explores a timeless question of vital importance in 2019 – what to believe? The question of belief is one that has long simmered in the minds of Swinscoe and Smith. This album is a meditation on belief, an attempt to examine the shaky foundations which underpin it, while also emphasising its importance to our lives. “The prerequisite of everything in life is belief both good and bad” Smith says. “So what should we believe in…or what can we believe in and also importantly why do we believe in something”.
Although this album marks a return to the studio, the band have also never really gone away, consistently performing to larger and larger audiences and selling out the likes of London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House. Coachella, Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, Montreux and Sonar have all played host to the band’s much loved live performances. Beyond the obvious they have also appeared at the Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards for Stanley Kubrick and they curated a series of events at London’s prestigious Barbican Centre featuring commissions from the prodigiously talented Austin Peralta (RIP) and have seen the likes of Dorian Concept, Thundercat, Moses Sumney and Gilles Peterson support them on stage over the years. They scored Disney’s feature length nature documentary “The Crimson Wing” including the track ‘Arrival of the Birds’ which featured in the closing scene of the Oscar Winning Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything”. They also released a Late Night Tales compilation featuring music from Flying Lotus, Burial and Björk.
Since “Motion” (1999), The Cinematic Orchestra have sold hundreds of thousands of albums, generated almost half a billion streams and enjoyed critical support from the likes of Pitchfork (8.6 for second album “Every Day” which featured two collaborations with legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago singer Fontella Bass), The Guardian, New York Times, Le Monde, Resident Advisor, Fader, Mixmag, NME, Crack (whose Simple Things festival the band headlined in 2016), Rolling Stone, Gilles Peterson, Benji B, Jason Bentley, Zane Lowe, Annie Mac, Lauren Laverne, KCRW and Mary Anne Hobbs. ‘To Build A Home’ has been synced to dozens of films and TV shows including the Orange Is The New Black finale and This Is Us and adverts including Burberry, Armani, Nike and Apple. The ‘To Build a Home’ short film was directed by Andrew Griffin and stars Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Harry Potter).
In 2019 it is easy to see the band’s influence, jazz is all around us, London and LA have recently produced scenes more prolific than anyone expected; Kamasi Washington has been nominated for both Grammy and Brit Awards, Sons Of Kemet a Mercury Prize, BADBADNOTGOOD provide jazz soundtracks to high fashion shows and Kendrick Lamar has put the jazz palette at the top of the charts. When The Cinematic Orchestra released their critically acclaimed debut album “Motion” it helped pave the way for this moment, incorporating as it did an interpretation that had been lacking in the oeuvre and encouraging a new generation of musicians to break rules. “To Believe” doesn’t shy away from this ethos – its articulation of the band’s unique sonic language, encompassing not only jazz but the sort of transcendental orchestration combined with the elegant electronics of artists like Ólafur Arnalds and Floating Points, artists they have helped forge a path for, has never been more cohesive and compelling.