Written by: DR on 17/11/2011 17:21:52

Sitting in my review queue for an absurdly long time has been "Cinematic", the self-released debut from Polish quartet Lebowski. As you may have guessed from the title, it may have intended to be, or at least sound like, a soundtrack for a movie - whether this actually movie exists or not, I'm not sure. This is probably besides the point though, as it is nevertheless desires to be relaxing, epic and, well, cinematic.

This band used to have a vocalist and they followed the typical verse/chorus/verse structure. They then decided this was too strict, let the vocalist go, and now rely on seemingly no structure at all. The instrumentation is free-flowing, possibly improvisational, and each song sounds bursting with ideas, from including vocal samples from independent movies, to haunting choral vocals to just about throwing in influences from all over the place. "Cinematic" holds nothing back. Unfortunately, that's the problem. Nobody can doubt the technical ability of each member - in fact, it's pretty impressive that only four of them managed to create an album as layered as this - but throughout all the technical and instrumental wizardry, this album suffers from a chronic lack of focus.

Opener "Trip To Doha" begins promisingly with swirling ambience and a dusty saxophone, and even when the drums and slightly over-powering guitars surge in, and even when they start to play cheesy riffs from a bad 80s movie, they still fit in with the tense, almost noir-like backdrop. Until, all hope is then destroyed when, out of nowhere and for no reason at all, metallic, distorted riffage is then thrown into the ring. "Old British Spy Movie", too, starts promisingly, this time with some nice piano work while stuttering guitar-work creates tension... until weird game-y sounds burst in, uninvitedly, and even when they disappear never to be heard from again and those nice piano sounds are brought back, are we expected to forget they ever came in? If so, what was the point of putting them in in the first place? They are simply so horribly out of place that if the song slowly relaxed you up until that point, they'd jolt you so much you'd probably strain yourself. "The Storyteller (Svensson)" also begins rather beautifully as the piano creates a dreamy spacious soundscape, yet they again spoil it with needless guitar technicality - for apparently no sake other than to flash their guitar technicality.

In rare moments when Lebowski don't overfill ideas into their compositions, "Iceland" and "Aperitif for Breakfast (O.M.R.J)" are soothing, atmospheric pieces that do well to hold your attention over their run-time. However, other than brief moments of decency, "Cinematic" is largely an example of creative misfiring. Normally this would be the kind of music to be admired rather than to fall in love, but this album is not to be admired; it's so clumsy that it's almost ugly. Having the ability to play your instruments to a high degree is fine, but in future Lebowski's work needs to be more focused - especially if they are asking the listener to stick with them for over an hour like they are here.

Download: Iceland, Aperitif for Breakfast (O.M.R.J)
For The Fans of: Pink Floyd, over-the-top progressive music
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 10.10.2011

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