Scala & Kolacny Brothers CD
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Many centuries ago - okay, in 2004 - a strange and beguiling version of the Divinyls' slightly mucky hit I Touch Myself emerged, sung by what sounded like a ghostly children's choir. It made for spooky mixtape fun at the time, and little else seemed to be known about the mysterious Scala Choir. Were they some sort of religious cult? Polyphonic Spree Juniors? All seemed shrouded in a cloak of mystery.
Fast-forward to late 2010, and The Social Network's trailer is accompanied by a hymnal version of Radiohead's Creep - turns out that it's by the same choir. More facts began to emerge: the group is the brainchild of two classically trained brothers Steven and Stijn Kolacny, and they have at their disposal a 200-strong all-girl choir… and a penchant for covering rock classics.
This compilation, billed as their UK debut (they've many more long-players available), features a range of rock classics from across the years. It takes in Metallica (Nothing Else Matters), U2 (With Or Without You), Oasis (Champagne Supernova), Depeche Mode (I Feel You) and Kings of Leon (Use Somebody). And then there's Alanis Morissette's Ironic - but that should only be ever covered in concrete and thrown into the sea.
The choir is undeniably brilliant at what they do, and there's no denying the loveliness and talent and pleasing mellowness, but where does this sit as an album? Is it an edgier easy listening? Paul Anka tried his hand at easying-up rock standards a few years back with his Rock Swings set, which featured songs by Soundgarden and Nirvana, so taking this material into rather less raucous waters isn't that new an idea. Is it lounge indie? A Twilight Swingle Singers? The point where the Jameses Blunt, Blake, Osterberg and Last naturally converge? Perhaps the selections here have become too much like standards, and the associations that many of the originals have attached to them may bog these versions down.
In small doses this album works perfectly - should a track pop up on a shuffle setting, it'll likely last its duration without the skip function being employed. But digging in the crates for rather more interesting songs to rework in this style would've added intrigue where there isn't any. Lesser-known tunes - I Touch Myself worked so well because it was a one-hit wonder reassessed - would enable Scala to shine a new light on previously unnoticed material. That said, the three self-penned numbers here - Our Last Fight, Masquerade (Of Fools) and Seashell - suggest that this project has ambitions beyond becoming little more than a novelty turn.
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Top customer reviews
Twelve of the fifteen tracks are cover versions and many will be familiar songs to listeners. The three non-cover version tracks (track 9 “Our Last Fight”, track 10 “Seashell”, track 11 “Masquerade (Of Fools)” are wonderful tracks and “Seashell” has become one of my favourite songs on the CD.
Generally a very relaxing album to listen to, it is a rewarding CD but not one that I could say was perfect for me. Like some others have commented, I find the piano accompaniment a little too prominent at times as the chords are not so much played but are hammered out at times – if that was the desired arrangement it is not one that always works for me unfortunately. Nevertheless I would say it is still a good CD.
01 Nothing Else Matters (Originally performed by Metallica)
02 Solsbury Hill (Originally performed by Peter Gabriel)
03 Champagne Supernova (Originally performed by Oasis)
04 Ironic (Originally performed by Alanis Morissette)
05 With or Without You (Originally performed by U2)
06 Everlong (Originally performed by Foo Fighters)
07 I Feel You (Originally performed by Depeche Mode)
08 Use Somebody (Originally performed by Kings of Leon)
09 Our Last Fight
11 Masquerade (Of Fools)
12 Creep (Originally performed by Radiohead)
13 Smells Like Teen Spirit (Originally performed by Nirvana)
14 Yellow (Originally performed by Coldplay)
15 Viva La Viva (Originally performed by Coldplay)
Whilst I'm not a choir purist, I find the simplicity of voices with a piano is a refreshing twist on modern pop songs, creating a moving experience.
The voices are haunting and beautiful as is the Piano and though I wondered when I would play the CD it seems whenever I feel reflective or just want to listen to loveliness!
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