Song: "Burn Out"
Album: Every Day
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To be original, truly original, within the world of music is without question the most difficult of all tasks one can face as a musician. The fact that musicians listen to older and current music obviously plays into the songs they create, and it is due to this fact that originality is so difficult. It is due to this fact, as well as the brilliance of the statement that a band, "makes soundtracks for films that don't exist" that makes The Cinematic Orchestra one of the most original and absolutely amazing bands in the entire history of music. Since releasing their debut album in 1999, the group has given the world some of the most stunning sonic landscapes imaginable, and completely rewritten the books on what can be considered jazz, electronica, and even "indie" rock among other genres. The groups' ability to show so many styles and yet remain impossible to categorize is one of the many aspects that defined them over the years, and everything that makes The Cinematic Orchestra so wonderfully unique can be found in their second studio album, 2002's Every Day. From fast-paced, techno-inspired tracks like "Flite" to some of the most soulful vocals ever recorded (courtesy of none other than Fontella Bass), Every Day has something to appease every musical taste, and yet there is never a question of consistency or cohesiveness on the record. Yet one track stands far above the rest of the catalog of The Cinematic Orchestra, and there is simply no way to describe the sheer musical brilliance found on their 2002 track, "Burn Out."
In reality, both "Burn Out" as well as The Cinematic Orchestra are the brain-child of Jason Swinscoe (AKA J. Swinscoe), and he serves as both producer and musical arranger on every song on Every Day. His ability to blend together both live and programmed instruments in such amazing harmony sets him far above his peers in nearly every musical genre, and it is on "Burn Out" that his unspoken claim to musical genius is solidified. Though on previous records, Swinscoe incorporated far more sound effects and musical oddities, throughout all of Every Day, the concentration is more on the "live" musical element, and yet the groups' character stays firmly intact. Truth be told, one would find it nearly impossible to find a song from any era or any genre that is as alluring and completely captivating as "Burn Out," as the sonic textures and subtleties stand as was of the most inviting absolutely enchanting that have ever been created. Drummer Luke Flowers brings the groups' jazz roots to the forefront, as his rhythm is subtly smooth, as he uses little more than a snare and ride cymbal to create his hypnotic loop. Though this pattern remains the rhythmic focus throughout, there are electronic/programmed elements that add depth to the rhythm, as they create both complimentary and contrasting tempos that give "Burn Out" a sound that is truly unlike anything else ever recorded.
On a song of this magnitude, there are so many elements that add to its overall impact, and it almost forces one to completely separate the rhythmic elements from the more melodic found on "Burn Out." Without question, the most stunning and distinctive element on "Burn Out" is the varied approaches on electric piano from Phil France, and it is this instrument that truly pushes the song into unknown territory. Whether he is emphasizing the mood with sustained chords or dancing across the track with a number of solos, France is clearly locked into the groove throughout the entire song, and it is his performance that makes the song impossible to classify as "techno" or any sub-genre, furthering the case of it being so unique. Making another connection to the jazz element, the muted, yet blaring trumpet from Jamie Coleman seems to melt in and out of the track in an indescribable manner, adding yet another extraordinary layer to "Burn Out." The song goes through a number of peaks and valleys, and yet the overall stunningly deep, almost meditative quality to the song is never lost. The complexity of the musical arrangements and the way in which they intertwine so perfectly with one another serves as a testament to the musical vision within Swinscoe, and on an album that is filled with incredible musical achievements, none shine as bright as "Burn Out."
Truth be told, the title of "Burn Out" is nothing short of perfect, as the brain of the listener is free to do just that within the hypnotizing musical arrangement that seems to completely disconnect from reality and leave it far behind. Though many may look toward the so-called "jam bands" for spacey, mind-altering music, the fact of the matter is, tracks like "Burn Out" leave the entire "jam band" genre in the dust in terms of "sonic hypnosis." It is this ability to capture the same moods as "jam band" style songs, whilst incorporating elements of jazz, electronica, and countless other genres that makes the music of The Cinematic Orchestra so unique, and there has quite literally never been another band that makes music that is even remotely similar. Seamlessly blending together live instrumentation with programmed drums and sounds, J. Swinscoe conducts his "orchestra," bringing their various sounds together to create a wall of music that is absolutely mesmerizing. While their first album was a far more electronic affair, on Every Day, Swinscoe and his band move far beyond "electro-jazz" and in many ways create entirely new, undefinable genres. Throughout the album, the emotions and textures created are amazingly deep, and each song is its own musical journey. Without question, The Cinematic Orchestra's 2002 record, Every Day, stands high atop the list of albums that "must be experienced to be understood," and there is no song that better defines this bands' original and absolutely stunning sound than their magnificent composition, "Burn Out."