Borland's last major solo release before his untimely death is a good showcase for his under appreciated talent. With the assistance of a variety of side performers and musicians, Borland offers up a selection of songs with his passion and sense of haunting post-punk derived drama very much intact from his Sound days. Generally quieter but no less intense than much of his '80s work, Cinematic lives up to its name more than once, with mysterious atmospheres matched by often understated but still sharply realized songs and lyrics. A fair number of songs, such as the great "I Can't Stop the World," use mellower hip-hop rhythms, which, while a bit initially surprising, are still incorporated rather well into the album's flow. There are times when things sound a bit tinny or chintzy, unfortunately -- "We Are the Night" is especially off, sounding like a rejected Pat Benatar number -- but thankfully it's never too much of a problem. The title track is nicely representative of the album as a whole, an acoustic strum with light band accompaniment, while Borland's singing and words are world-weary without being self-pitying. His electric guitar instrumental break is simple yet effective, a beautiful chime. "Bright White Light" is the early standout, with a rhythm derived from a clipped, second-long loop of feedback, then backed by a full band setup. Borland's quiet verses are offset by a full-bodied, glorious chorus, at once inviting and warning. It's a hard act to follow, but Cinematic thankfully contains many other strong points to recommend it. "Night Cascade" has a brisk, clean rush to it; it's very reminiscent of the Sound but has a crisper touch all around, nicely offset by Borland's singing. "Western Veil" is especially fine, a take on the moody, modern high and lonesome sound done by the likes of such acts as A Small Good Thing and Steve Roach.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett