The Cinematic Orchestra Album Review: Motion (1999)

Leave a comment down below to request an album for me and Robby to review. Any artist, any genre, we’ll give it a chance!

*requested review*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Motion, The Cinematic Orchestra’s first album. 

In green is my opinion. I have never heard of these guys, but I am excited to give them a listen, as they are predominantly instrumental. I dig instrumental music.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He is unfamiliar with The Cinematic Orchestra, but is always willing to listen to something new.

Durian

Durian is comprised of two different parts. The first part lasts almost five minutes, offering some ambient lounge music laced with subtle horns, elegant violin, and vocal accents. It’s a cool sound fit for sleuthing around in a corporate office. Then, funky guitar erupts out of nowhere along with saucy organ. A younger cousin of mine stumbled into my room as I was playing the song on my speakers and remarked that it “sounds like Despicable Me.” Despicable Me is pretty great. Likewise, Durian is a pretty great chill-out track.

We start off the review with a track that is largely inclusive of drum and bass. Durian definitely establishes a chill mood, emulating music that is heard at coffee shops. I like how the song shifts gears at the end with more sounds added, lead by guitar. As a side note, the piano reminds me of classic rock group, The Doors. Durian (not the fruit) is groovy, a nice song to kick off the album.

Ode To The Big Sea

Upright bass and jazz-styled drums work together to create a repetitive rhythm that is embellished by sterile horns and uninspired piano. The violin and saxophone sounds that are laced within the song are commendable additions to the rhythm, pleasant overall, but the entire song is too bland for me to enjoy for its entire duration. Ode To The Big Sea fell flat.

Ode To The Big Sea is a jazzy song with a repetitive bass-line, so no, Meghan Trainor, it is not all about that bass. I’m disappointed with this song because I thought that it would have an island sound or theme to it, as suggested by its title. I admire the jazz sound that it has, but the song simply drags on for too long.

Night Of The Iguana

Night Of The Iguana establishes an eerie vibe fit for a jungle night. Flourishes of bass and the manifestation of mysterious noises throughout the song serve as effective touches to the living atmosphere established by the energized drumming. It is when the horns intrude upon the ambiance that the song yields a shrug. I don’t feel that the saxophones were warranted. After about two minutes of saxophone playing, sinister violins creep into the song, returning the listener back to the track’s original sound. Intrigue is rekindled and all is well…until the saxophones return! I truly dig sax. LeRoi Moore and Dick Perry captivate me when they play. The saxophone in this song, however, doesn’t impress me. What could have been a unique track ideal for easy-listening was instead an attempt to make an epic composition. I feel that Night of the Iguana would sound stellar live, but in this particular studio recording, it wasn’t captured in an adequate light. 

Night of the Iguana is a long, classical-sounding jazz song that is worth the ride. It is one of those songs that is ambient yet full of substance, like a Pink Floyd track. Once again, I get a Doors vibe from the group, and I am okay with that.

Channel 1 Suite

Heck yeah. Throw Channel 1 Suite into a Bond film! This track is slick, optimal for illustrations of espionage on screen. The introspective guitar and strong bass are complemented by rapid horn accents that sound as if they were pulled straight out of a Bond movie. The saxophone included within the track bears notable similarity to that which is featured in Sting’s Perfect Love…Gone Wrong from his album Brand New Day, which was interestingly released four days before this album was. The subtle vocals give the track a quality akin to that of a Buddha Bar compilation, making Channel 1 Suite a versatile track that could fit within many mediums. I greatly enjoyed this track.

No, I do not want to hug ya and squeeze ya. There must have been some crazy events happening in the Channel 1 Suite. The song sounded great in the beginning, but it did not progress well. A few minutes into the track, I had already grown tired of it. I understand that it is an instrumental track, but it should still fluctuate once in a while and incorporate some other sounds.

Bluebirds

Bluebirds is a piece of music that is more suitable for the live setting than the studio recording. It sounds as if it is an all-out improvisation, a flurry of crashing drums and sporadic instruments. Jamming is something that I appreciate whenever it is done by an artist, whether it be through the brief, polished delivery of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the lengthier, experimental jams from Phish. When a jam is captured in a studio, however, it rarely lives up to its counterpart that is performed live. Artists like John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band, who often integrate jam-sections into their studio tracks, try to do so in a way that is brief and cohesive. Bluebirds knows neither brevity nor cohesion. It’s a cool bit of music, but nothing that warrants repeat listens.

Bluebirds is a loud, drum-pounding song with an intro that will make you want to start hitting some pots and pans to make some noise as if you were a Rugrat. It does get spooky-sounding a little after three minutes into the song, but the brass neutralizes the sinister sound. Bluebirds is one crazy song, and that is why I love it.

And Relax!

And Relax! is incredibly similar to Ode To The Big Sea. As stated earlier, Ode To The Big Sea was monotonous. Thankfully, And Relax! places dynamic elements over the rhythmic drum and bass combination. Lovely piano marks the ending of the song, piano that I would have preferred to have been more dominant throughout the song. Despite its energy, And Relax! stays true to its title, making it a solid addition to an album that is largely ambient.

The title of this track is perfect! Honestly, And Relax! could be my lullaby. It is chill, calm, and slow- paced. I could imagine dreaming to this song and entering my fantasy paradise without worrying about any problems from the real world. And Relax! is a magical song that will have you feeling relaxed. Likewise, it is also an appropriate song to play on a rainy day, as it does fit that blue mood spurred by stormy weather.

Diabolus

Diabolus features saxophone that finally hits the mark. This time around, the instrument is successful at meshing with the music surrounding it. Diabolus is a chill lounge jam for the first five minutes before it morphs into what sounds like the earlier parts of Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Ending with the lounge tone established by Durian, The Cinematic Orchestra says goodbye. A decent closer that teases a more electronic side to the group, Diabolus leaves more to be desired from the Cinematic Orchestra, partially because the group has flaunted its potential and partially because Motion was not quite a complete meal.

Diabolus brings back the coffee shop vibe from Durian. Diabolus takes a twist around the 5 minute mark, as more piano and a dream-like sound is added to the song. I must say, Motion is an interesting album despite being one that is different from what I typically listen to. I just wish that it was not boring and repetitive at times. If you need an album to chill to, then this one is for you. Thank you all for another amazing year of album reviews. Happy New Year everyone!

My Top 3

Durian

Channel 1 Suite

And Relax!

Rob’s Top 3

And Relax!

Night of the Iguana

Durian

Motion was an interesting album. It was conceptually organized, full of reoccurring sounds and bold ideas, but it isn’t quite ripe for high praise. The Cinematic Orchestra is undoubtedly promising, as their sound lives up to their name. In other words, the music is cinematic. Because the music retains a unique dynamism, I presume that this group’s later albums are tighter and more focused. There is surely meat to be preserved from this Porkchop. 

~Juck

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