Review: Escala – Escala

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After having been on our televisions now for many years, we’re surely all familiar with that certain glazed eye expression Simon Cowell gets when he sees the word ‘kerching’ appear. Before Susan Boyle trotted along, the most excited we’d seen him get on the oft cringe-worthy Britain’s Got Talent was when Escala, four pretty ladies playing a string quartet, powered their way through a classical adaptation of Wings classic ‘Live & Let Die’. While Simon and Piers might have been quick to over-enthusiastically declare the girls ‘totally original’, fans of near identical pretty-ladies-playing-a-string-quartet, Bond, were quick to shout up all this was done about eight years ago, even down to some of the song choices such as ‘Palladio’ and ‘KasHmir’.

Of course Bond weren’t riding the Cowell money-wagon, and when Escala want to record the Led Zep classic they have the added unexpected bonus of Slash rocking up with his guitar. Let’s make things clear – this is not a sweet classical album to sound track your middle class suburban dinner party. It’s a pacey, sometimes frantic trip through classical styles that lends itself to a fast, angry walk around the block or a particularly strenuous afternoon in with the Wii fit with only Ennio Morricone’s ‘Chi Mai’ and a toned down version of ‘Adagio For Strings’ leaving time for a breather.

Classical-o-phobe’s shouldn’t be scared away though. While the four members of the group might all be classically trained, Haydn and Mozart have been stored away for the future, with their debut concentrating on modern day composers such as Karl Jenkins and Craig Armstrong alongside pop songs like ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Clubbed to Death’ and amusingly Robert Miles’ ‘Children’. We might have heard it all before, but it still remains just as much refreshingly fun to listen to.

<i>Originally written for Orange Music</i>