Following the YouTube phenomenon that Scala & Kolacny Brothers became after their stunning version of Radiohead's 'Creep' was featured on the soundtrack of The Social Network, this album, the much-anticipated debut UK release from Scala & Kolacny Brothers, is every bit as breathtaking, spine tingling and hauntingly beautiful as it promised to be. Conducted by Stijn Kolacny and accompanied by his brother Steven, the Scala a 30-40 strong all female choir that perform the most powerful, goose bump-inducing, unique re-workings of familiar rock and indie tracks.
Precise yet wonderfully expressive and moving from the very start, the album opens with Scala's reworking of 'Nothing Else Matters', originally performed by Metallica; a female vocal ensemble singing beautifully in gentle yet whole harmony over solo piano, and later, particularly stunning within this track is the 'ooh' refrain which has that poignant quality of echoing round a vast, Cathedral-like environment. An immediate change of pace follows into Peter Gabriel's 'Solsbury Hill' with its' pounding piano introduction and much brighter, pop feel which the Scala choir perform equally as captivatingly, moving perfectly between a loud, bright energy and a contrasting more sedate vibe. This is followed by a slower paced female reworking of 'Champagne Supernova' by Oasis, a band that epitomise rough masculinity; re-imagined, the track opens with a powerful rall in lush harmony that couldn't be more contrasting to the Gallagher brothers, but is equally superb in its' own right and full of dynamic variation. Opening with delicately whispered vocal harmonies over the piano accompaniment, Scala's version of Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' then kicks into a much stronger feel during the chorus. The harmonies that Steven Kolacny has re-imagined for Scala are simple but all the same just sound so powerful.
The undoubted highlight of this albums' track listing is an absolutely divine rendition of one of U2's most heartfelt finest, 'With Or Without You', complete with goose bump-inducing harmonies and again a really moving, spine tingling quality that's enriched all the more by the inclusion of a string ensemble soothing out wonderfully smooth backings and a vibrato-ridden instrumental. The track just builds and builds, surrounding the listener in a stunning musical experience which climaxes with the tracks' powerful soaring bridge and then dies out to gentle choral chords held over string notes and a subtle piano melody delicately meandering amongst the blend. This is followed by a hauntingly melancholic version of Foo Fighters' 'Everlong'; stunning.
Later, Scala's version of Kings Of Leon's 'Use Somebody' has the emotional quality of Sarah McLachlan's beautiful track 'Angel', with smooth vocals over slow moving sensitive piano parts bringing a different personality to the song from its' original, guitar ridden version. This is followed by three of Steven Kolacny's original compositions which capture both the haunting harmonies of John Tavener's 'The Lamb' and similar choral works, and a similar quality of the band Lamb; the tracks also contain suggestions of electronic beats, synth sounds and electronic manipulation, especially 'Seashell' which is backed by a fuller band sound and drives forward with more pace that the preceding tracks. Closing the album are two live tracks that further emphasise the choirs' pure talent; Scala's aforementioned internet phenomenon, their version of Radiohead's 'Creep', and a gentle, ballad-like, haunting rendition of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', originally performed by Nirvana, a track whose original had so much fury and rage here laden with goose bump-inducing harmonies.