One part jazz, one part hip-hop, one part space jam, one part funk of the earth, Cinematic Orchestra’s Every Day is (at the very serious and dangerous risk of hyperbole and cliché) truly an album that defies convention and classification. For musicians, there are moments sublime and surreal harkening back to the funk/jazz cocktails of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter featuring the superb vocals of Fontella Bass (particularly on the opening track, “All That You Give”). Hip-hop fans will discover slick beats reminiscent of the RZA, smooth breakdowns à la Dan the Automator, and a top-draw vocal contribution from Roots Manuva on the track “All Things to All Men.”
While this album fits conveniently into what many might call the “trip-hop” genre, that particular description (the product of some slick record exec scrambling to get a promotion, no doubt) would marginalize the inventiveness and uniqueness of Cinematic Orchestra on the whole and this album in particular. Also it would diminish the accomplishments of the live musicians, of whom particular praise and attention should be paid to drummer Luke Flowers. Flowers’ stalwart cadence and deft technique not only provide the concrete solid support to Cinematic Orchestra’s tunes but often prove SO tight and unwavering that one continues to question what is electronic and what is human in the rhythm section.
For folks looking for something laid back but still active enough to be present without being obnoxious, this album is a perfect fit. Throw this disc on as perfect after-dinner conversation background sounds or perhaps to create nice ambience for a special someone. And even though it works well within the context of entertaining others, the album is smooth and subtle enough to provide an excellent soundtrack for studying, reading, or any other private endeavor.
Best tracks: “All That You Give, Man With the Movie Camera, All Thing to All Men”
Listen alikes: Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, Wayne Shorter’s Native Dancer, Verve ReMixed compliations