Gather ’round, readers. This is a story of a band from Vienna, Austria, and a video game created by a Danish company. There’s technically no connection, just that the newest album by the former (the 4 piece Cinématique) was inspired by the latter – both are named Limbo, and the atmosphere present in both is hugely similar. Having really enjoyed Cinématique’s first album, I was a bit curious when the band said that the new album would be “way darker and more ambient”. Given that both of those things are elements in music that I definitely enjoy, I wasn’t hesitant, but rather just sort of wondering what they would do with that direction.
It’s been a few years since I was first introduced to Cinématique, and they became one of those bands that went so long between releases that they sort of slipped form my mind, after a decent bit of time spent wondering if they were going to release anything else. In the 2 years+ between releases, the band was still playing shows and writing music, but post-rock being the somewhat sporadic beast that it is, you never really know if that’s going to amount to anything. Fortunately, it did amount to something in this case. Something that is definitely worth the wait, and something that really shows the amount of effort that was put into making it. Having finally had the chance to sit down and listen to Limbo, I’m definitely not disappointed.
Cinématique have created an absolutely fantastic album, and if you’ve played the video game, the influence is undeniably apparent. Muscially, the album is very much an ambient record, with flourishes of post-rock here and there, not unlike Hammock or This Will Destroy You. However, one of the most impressive elements to me is the way the vocals are used, blending in flawlessly with the music, becoming more of an instrument than something layered over top of other instruments. In this regard, there’s a definite Sigur Ros feel, and Cinématique is every bit as successful with the vocals-as-instrument approach as Jonsi and company are. If you’re not really paying attention, and are just sort of lost in the beauty of the songs, it may take a bit for you to realize that those are actually vocals at all.
Typically, when I review an album, I tend to look at it from a track by track point of view – how does this one transition to the next, does this one fit stylistically with the rest of the album, etc. What Cinématique have done with Limbo is record an album that flows absolutely perfectly from start to finish. There is no question of transition from track to track, everything just flows. No abrupt changes, nothing that seems out of place at all. The final track, “White Light”, is undoubtedly the most “typical” post-rock sounding track on the album, and in a way, the preceding 7 songs feel almost like a 44 minute build up. That build up, if you will, works amazingly to lead the listener into that final track, and every single part of this album works in cohesion to create something that sounds absolutely awesome. Knowing the visual elements and amount of artistic presentation the band puts into their live shows, I’m sure that any performance of the songs on this album would be breathtaking.
What this band has done so well is take elements and influences from other bands (as well as other outside influences, the video game in particular), and string them together in a way that creates something rather unique. Are there other bands doing the ambient post-rock thing? Absolutely. However, I think very, very few are doing it as well. Given the progression between their first album and this newest one, I’m incredibly excited to see how the band moves forward from this point. With Limbo, Cinématique have proven that they deserve a position amongst the more well-known bands in the genre, and hopefully they’ll get that due recognition.