In the lead up to The Cinematic Orchestra’s long-awaited new album To Believe, released 15th March on Ninja Tune, the band have announced the supports for their three-night Roundhouse, London residency in March, including James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Alfa Mist, Moses Boyd, Yazmin Lacey, Nathan Fake, Hidden Orchestra and PBDY (Brainfeeder).
They have also been announced as part of the BBC 6Music Festival in Liverpool at the end of March (alongside Hot Chip, Jon Hopkins, Jungle, IDLES and more) and shared news of a special Rough Trade East In-store DJ set and Q&A on the 19th March.
Finally, this week the band held a string of album playbacks in the dark (in association with Pitchblack Playback), giving fans the chance to listen to the album in an immersive setting ahead of its release. These events were held in London, Paris, Tokyo and in Berlin.
Throughout the campaign, new music and gig tickets have been revealed to fans in a number of unorthodox ways to illuminate the album’s timeless question of vital importance in 2019 – what to believe? The band’s website announcing their return, with single ‘A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life’ featuring Roots Manuva required fans to disconnect from the internet to reveal the album tracklist and news of a limited edition 12”.
They also offered fans a chance to win gig tickets by visiting their local record shop and buying any record. The list of dates and record shops were revealed on the Cinematic Orchestra website when they once again disconnected from the internet.
For their latest single, ‘A Promise’ featuring Heidi Vogel, the band launched a site to encourage more focused listening: fans who allowed microphone access and sat in silence were rewarded with an exclusive preview of the single.
The Cinematic Orchestra (comprising of founder Jason Swinscoe and long-time collaborator and friend Dominic Smith), have always defied category and convention.
Neither an orchestra nor a band, not a pure jazz act but full of its influence, not electronic but originally rooted in a London based electronic scene. Musical trends come and go but they have assuredly and defiantly stuck to their principles. A refusal to compromise, to bend to classification, to follow convention.
Starting a new album is never easy and after the success of Ma Fleur, Swinscoe faced new challenges. How to reinvent the bands narrative again, how to keep the process vital and inspired.
At this time Smith was increasingly inspired by the west coast and in particular LA. He recalls “I was drawn purely by the music I heard coming out the city. But, after spending time there it was the inclusion and collaboration which was so surprising to me. Having been immersed in the overly competitive and sometimes destructive music scenes I knew in New York and London, it was clear to me that something special and quite unique was happening and I wanted Jason to see it”.
Jason soon after made the move from New York to LA – Smith introduced him to some of the mainstays of the scene. In LA Smith and Swinscoe connected with a music community full of collaboration and authenticity rarely found in any metropolis then reconnected with a family of musicians, who have spanned the band’s career.
On To Believe The Cinematic Orchestra 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).
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.
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.