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Escala is the debut album by the group of the same name. They are an electronic string quartet and were brought to our attention on the "Britains got Talent" TV show in 2008. After their success on this show Simon Cowell signed them up to his record label and this is their offering to us.
The CD was released in May 2009 and went in at number 2 in the UK album charts.
I really like this album which is strange for me as I mainly listen to dance music. I would personally describe it as dramatic classical music.
One of my problems with the CD is that it is very short. The songs that are on the CD are all covers of other songs but they are significantly shorter versions than their original. I would have liked them to have done full length versions.
The tracks on the album are:
"Requiem for a Tower" - Originally this song was called Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell (from the film Requiem for a dream) but it was remixed and recorded for "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" trailor and then the name became Requiem for a Tower. I only know this as I hunted the song down after frequently hearing it on talent shows at dramatic moments. The original is around 6minutes long, Escala only offer 1.59minutes, which I was really disappointed about. The song itself is very well done though and seems more dramatic than the originals. This song was the reason why I decided to buy the CD.
"Palladio" - This is the song that was performed twice on Britains got Talent (audition and final rounds) and it was also used on Sky Sports adverts too that showed them playing so people often say it is their signature tune. A lot of people probably buy the album because of this song, it is one of my favourite songs and has been on my ipod for a while before I bought this CD.
"Kashmir" - This song features Slash from Guns N' Roses on guitar. It is quite a powerful piece and I believe this song was also used on sky sports adverts. It is also one of my favourite tracks on the album.
"Finding Beauty" - I have heard this song quite a lot of times before. It is often featured in TV dramas and on general TV adverts. It is a very slow and beautiful piece. I quite liked it at first but found that it was a bit dull after hearing it a couple of times, I think this is due to the pace of it.
"Children" - This is a cover of the classic dance song by Robert Miles (featured on the album "Dreamland") originally released in 1994. I absolutely love this track as I love the original and it is great to hear it in a different format. It is the longest track on the album at 4.27minutes.
"Live and Let Die" - This is maybe one of the most famous songs on the album. It was originally recorded by Paul McCartney and was for the film of the same name in the James Bond Series. I personally have to say that I prefer the original on this occasion but still think it is a good performance.
"Chi Mai" - I know this song very well as when I was growing up my dad used to play it constantly on the car stereo and then again all day at home! It is a very famous song and was originally done by Ennio Morricone for the French film Le Professionnel, (My dad told me that as he has seen it and felt he always had to tell me each time it was on)! I think that Escala cover this song perfectly and it is a joy to listen to.
"Feeling Good" - I think this song was originally by Nina Simone (but am not too sure on that) but I know it more recently from versions by Michael Buble and the Pussycat Dolls. I was quite surprised by this song because it seems to just be a cover of a quite normal song but nonetheless it was still very enjoyable and I enjoyed listening to it in this format.
"Sarabande" - I can't say I know anything about this song, so without going on the internet and typing it into google I can't say too much about it, but we can all do that and as this is my review I haven't done so. I can say that I find it the most boring song on the album which I would go as far as saying I didn't like it at all, but maybe this was because I didn't know it? I was glad that this was one of the shorter songs at 2.38minutes.
"Clubbed to Death" - This is a track that is played quite frequently but you don't always notice it. I do however know where I notice it from...they often play it on shows such as X Factor when you hear Dermot O'Leary talking and he is building something up and saying this is their moment of truth, etc and they have dramatic music playing...this is often that music! I really love this track and never seem to get tired of hearing it.
"Adagio for Strings" - Being a dance music fan I always associate with this track from DJ/producer Tiesto. I have heard it in classical format though, but I have never known who it was by, I think this is because I have never taken any interest in any versions other than that of Tiesto. This is a beautiful piece and it might make me reconsider that last statement!!
My knowledge of classical music is extremely limited. I only know a handful of songs and who they are by, in which a couple of them are on this album. I apologise if I have got some of the things wrong about who I think they are by, but as previously mentioned I am not into going onto Google and simply getting facts to add to my reviews as anyone can do this.
I really enjoyed this album and as it is only £3.99 on amazon at the moment you might as well go for it! I was very surprised at how much I have enjoyed it, I just wish it was a bit longer!
The concept of leggy females looking sexy whilst playing string music with a modern twist is not new. Before Escala there emerged artists like Vanessa Mae and a strikingly similar ensemble 'Bond'. Nevertheless, this group were finalists on the TV programme 'Britain's Got Talent' in 2008 and it was refreshing to see some talented instrumentalists on the show rather than the usual singer, dancer or novelty act. Escala are a string quartet of young women from London with two violinists, a violist (viola) and a cellist. They put on a great stage show - They are dramatic and beautiful, playing dramatic and beautiful music. And whilst I prefer to watch them perform, this album was a pleasant surprise...
*~HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ALBUM~*
I'm a huge fan of classical music and definitely approve of the contemporary style that many instrumentalists are adopting and here are some of my favourite tracks from the album:
~Requiem for a Tower - This is a commanding piece of music that, when adopted as the theme tune for something, makes it sound awfully important and dramatic (As adopted for the Britain's Got Talent theme tune and Lord of the Ring's trailers). This is a great opening track that really grabs your attention.
~Palladio - Palladio is another dramatic piece by who is, in my opinion, one of the best composers of our age - Karl Jenkins. Fabulous choice for their album and splendidly played!
~Kashmir - This is a cover a Led Zeppelin track and it's my favourite track on the whole album although this is probably down to the fact that they borrowed Slash for the guitar solos in this. Is that cheating? Well, who cares - Slash rocks!
~Live and Let Die - I adored this cover choice of this Paul McCartney and the Wing's song. I think that their playing in this is very skilled and that it sounds beautiful.
I love almost every track on this album and think that there were some excellent choices made ('Adagio for Strings' is another track many of you will be familiar with). 'Feeling Good' is probably the one track that I felt was unnecessary and underwhelming as I believe it is a piece of music that is only really great with vocals, although this is down to my own personal preference.
Nevertheless, this is an album which is musically very strong and I recommend it to any fan of classical music or anyone who wishes to expand their horizons in terms of musical genres. It is a bold album, somewhat rock and pop inspired, with excellent tracks that I would encourage you to give a chance.
*~Only £6.08 on Amazon~*
*~Thanks for reading~* x :) *~Also on Ciao, October 2009~*
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Requiem For A Tower
3 Kashmir - Escala & Slash
4 Finding Beauty
6 Live And Let Die
7 Chi Mai
8 Feeling Good
10 Clubbed To Death
11 Adagio For Strings