I would like to introduce this blog by giving you a little overview of what exactly I mean by cinematic music. I will try and give you a short but to-the-point description of what is going through my head and remember- this is my perspective on the matter so you may not agree on everything I say, but I will try and be as broad and open minded as possible.
First of all, I’d like to get the term ‘post-rock’ out of the way. Many of you may know the kind of music I am talking about as ‘post-rock’, but I am choosing not to use that expression because in my experience it is restrictive, and a frowned upon label that people reluctantly use for want of a better word. Simon Reynolds is widely credited with coming up with that term in 1994 but I found after reading the article, that his description of this new sound is quite out of date. Therefore, I will refer to it as cinematic music.
Secondly, I think I should mention that the thought process that goes into the composition of such music is a global phenomenon, so not restricted to a specific geographical location. There are people making cinematic music all over the world. I think thats what makes it so unique. It seems to be the most natural and instinctive form of songwriting, and I think the one with the most potential. As musicians from a variety of countries independently develop their sounds, they gradually link up and make for a global network of local scenes and strands of music. Take for example the infamous Canadian experimental scene and compare it to the one that grew in Texas. The bands from Texas (This Will Destroy You/Explosions in the Sky) make more guitar-orientated music, whereas the bands from Canada (Thee Silver Mt Zion/Set Fire To Flames) are more minimal and have quite prominent string sections. This isn’t science so there are exceptions but you can see how this example illustrates my point.
Third and finally, cinematic music is probably one of the most versatile kinds of music. It can be with or without vocals, minimal and orchestral, heavy and distorted, ridiculously drawn out or ridiculously short, electronic or any combination of these characteristics- and with pretty much any instrumentation. The common threads are a sense of progression (you could call cinematic music “post-prog”- but even then there are exceptions), wide ranging dynamics throughout and somewhat unusual subject matters (the sky, science, the elements…) which seem to be inspirational starting points for a lot of artists who relish the epic.
Robert Raths initiator of Erased Tapes Records (London) explains the word cinematic perfectly in an interview for the Emerging Fervour Blog (for full interview follow the link). Here is the excerpt about the word “cinematic”:
All artists on Erased Tapes are connected through the timelessness of their music, but spread throughout a varied range of genres. What does “Cinematic Pop” stand for?
Erased Tapes: “Cinematic describes the effect on your imagination when you listen to our music. I want us to leave enough space between the lines to let people’s imagination run free. Pop forms the contrast to show that our music is not just niche music and should not be seen as such. As a representative of my artists I don’t want to tell someone like Ólafur (Ólafur Arnalds) that his music is “niche”. I mean, you would never ever say that to your kids, would you? “You’re kind of niche.” Nobody wants to hear that. Literally, Erased Tapes could be described as a crossover from extremes such as techno or classical music to pop. What I like about the word pop the most, is its universal meaning – it knows no boundaries. So if people feel the need to pigeonhole our music, I prefer our box to be open.“