The Cinematic Orchestra – “To Believe” Album Review

Story posted March 18, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, Sports by Jade Campos

The Cinematic Orchestra is known for their classical pieces featured in popular television and films. Audiences may not be able to distinctly recognize the band, but will remember their music playing throughout episodes of “Criminal Minds,” “One Tree Hill” and movies like “The Theory of Everything.”

The band’s fourth studio album, “To Believe,” was released this past Friday, coming 12 years after their previous album. With only seven tracks, the album manages to still fall short of 60 minutes in length. While much of what they are known for are orchestral pieces providing an emotional appeal to any scene, “To Believe” falls more on the electronica side.

The Cinematic Orchestra took a leap with “To Believe” by focusing much of the new music towards a combination of different emotions and sounds.

Much as their name would imply, The Cinematic Orchestra creates music almost solely to be featured in the media. However, “To Believe” seems to take a different approach as much of the tracks seem impossible to feature in popular film.

The album opens somewhat promisingly. The title track, “To Believe,” is somber and beautiful. It does not require much more than beautiful composition to evoke a feeling of longing in listeners.

“A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life,” the second track, falls short of the expectations set by the previous. While the length offers a wide space for the track to vary, it jumps around almost too much. It begins on a rather harsh note with a spoken word intro, which takes away from the established tone of the album. The track brings listeners back to reality instead of being lost in the surreal imitations of life.

While the title, “To Believe,” may imply longing and wonder, which was established in the first track, the album has a tendency to jump around. The band moves from orchestral pieces relaying back to the supposed theme (such as “Lessons”) and around to electronic ballads (“Zero One/This Fantasy”) that imply an almost an out of this world experience.

It is almost as if the band is struggling with two similar yet rather different themes. The songs travel back in forth in believing in oneself and towards believing in the beyond. While the album comes together under a similar theme, it struggles to remain cohesive.

However, the tracks of themselves are beautiful. They provide create vivid imagery and establish a general tone, even if they aren’t the same. Each track is long enough in length (most from around seven to 11 minutes) that the songs have room to grow their character.

For many of the tracks, there are two contradicting sides. Whether they blossom into happiness from somber or reality from the absurd, there are several working parts of each song. This allows the band to explore the composition of very differing emotions.

While The Cinematic Orchestra was unable to achieve an ultimately similar sound with “To Believe,” perhaps that was not the purpose. The band may have been looking to release their new set of songs meant to appear in the next handful of popular episodes and films. Yet, as an album, it simply lacks a unifying piece.

Rating: 6/10
Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “The Workers of Art”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life”

 

 

Jade Campos is a freshman majoring in print journalism. To contact her, email jmc7727@psu.edu.