Bond - Classified

Posted By MiOd On Monday, November 04, 2013 Under
Bond - Classified
Consisting of four classically trained musicians, bond perform on electric violins, viola and cello. Their mix of classical melodies and youthful exuberance make for a heady combination sure to captivate a diverse audience. Using original music and arrangements, they also incorporate tinges of everything from trance and house music to salsa and traditional East European folk songs. The result is dramatic, compelling and dazzlingly refreshing. The first single from Born is Victory - a rollicking instrumental destined to be a hit on radio as well as dance floors. A visually exhilarating video for the track was filmed in Cuba, pairing the girls with locals dancing to the infectious tune.

Bond is a string quartet made up of four good-looking women, two from Australia, two from Great Britain. Their training is in purely classical music, which this CD certainly is not. Their previous CD was banned from the UK classical charts, presumably because of the overly insistent use of beats and other intrusions, and this CD too contains African, electro, Latin and hip-hop beats. Bond will be the first to acknowledge that they're heavily influenced by the club scene and pop culture from London to Bangkok. Here they are joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the sound is enormous: there's level upon level of overdubbing. Some of the tracks have, as their basis, classical works: Pachelbel's Canon, snippets of Swan Lake, the Nutcracker, Carmen's Habanera, Brahms' Hungarian Dance no. 5, Barber's Adagio for Stings. But the sound we get is lush, beat-heavy, club-ish, full of excitement and basic rhythms, and the "classical" connection--aside from the melodies from the above-mentioned pieces--must be taken on faith. The women's solo playing, if there is any, is not audible. The over-riding feel is disco; this is for dancing and for creating a mood of excitement. --Robert Levine

My introduction to this type of music started with violinist extraordinaire, Vanessa Mae in 1990's. The fusion of techno, pop and serious classical was a breath of fresh air, and Bond soon found its way into the long list of my favorites. The classically trained flutist in me loves the serious backbone in this music but the poppy/dance movie like melodies mesh so well that it morphs into a wonderful crossover. The violins, viola and cello here are throbbing with passion, excitement and fresh, new vibrancy. If I am sitting down when listening to this, my feet are always tapping whether I know it or not, but this is really appropriate for just about any activity. Those familiar with the classical pieces that were used and embellished on will enjoy the new take on old favorites.

Fans of Pachelbel's Canon will adore "Lullaby" it's sweet and romantic. I always feel as if I was at a spring wedding on some exotic locale whenever I hear it.

"Dream Star" in my mind it sounds like sunset and then sunrise somewhere warm where the air is thick and views stunning.

"I'll Fly Away" is simply amazing, when this stars playing I get goosebumps, it just sounds like a journey under a starry sky in Morocco, riding a camel wile the cool wind blows through the hair.

"Hungarian" makes me thing of goulash and jumping over fires! Fun, crazy piece with some trance mixed in.

"Adagio for Strings" done with drums and synthesizer - lovely and moving, also really well done as a trance piece by DJ Tiesto - fyi for the fans of the melody.

"Explosive" just like the name suggests it's not a shy piece; it was used during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Those familiar with the classical pieces that were used and embellished on will enjoy the new take on old favorites. Every time I hear this CD it makes me happy, I can't wait for their new album coming out this year.

What I am about to part is Classified information, info on Bond's third studio album that is. The foursome have not departed from their tried and true formula of strings and pop syrup of oontsa-oontsa techno beats and drum machines. Granted, there are some triple digit BPM numbers, but when it comes down it, this has been ground already covered in full on Born and Shine, their first two albums, and much better.

The allegro, rhythmic and symphonic cadence of the action movie-theme of "Explosive" opens the album, showing a strong opening track that later closes the album.

However, the upbeat and Latin-flavoured "Samba," replete with whistles and vocals from the ladies, a first for them, veers more to conventional pop-techno, the strings being more or less classical window-dressing. They also cover the Silver Convention's classic disco standard "Fly Robin Fly," and violinist Eos Chater and cellist Gay-Yee Westerhoff do some singing there, but why bother doing a retread scarcely distinguishable from the original?

If the slow, dreamy rhythm of "Midnight Garden" is familiar, it's because Bond is using the melody from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, the Danse de Cygnes segment. However, in looking at the writing credits, I see to my horror that Piotr Ilyich is NOT credited whatsoever, which is also the case for his "Waltz Of The Flowers" from the Nutcracker in "Dream Star." Oh, but there's more. Their upbeat and skirt-swishingly danceable "Hungarian" is taken from Johannes Brahms' gypsy-like Hungarian Dance No. 5 given the drum machine backbeat, and "Senorita," which incorporates the slow, measured ballet-like "Habanera" melody from Bizet's Carmen. A selection from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite serves as the inspiring melody for "Dream Star." And the dreamy and pleasant "Lullaby" is a reworking of Pachelbel's Canon in D, uncredited again! Now that rap artists are required to give credit to music and lyric samples, one would think Bond would know better, given that classical crossover acts such as Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church, Hayley Westenra, and Myleene Klass have done so. And Bond did too on their first two albums. What happened here?

Their foray into Middle Eastern sounds first explored in Shine continues in "Scorchio" which has some vivacious symphonic strings of a Liszt or Brahms sound, and the soaring "I'll Fly Away" written by cellist Westerhoff.

At least they gave credit where credit was required in "Adagio For Strings," which sprinkles random techno noises on Samuel Barber's funereal piece that in its pure form might lead one to start turning on the gas oven if one isn't of hale heart and mind. "Highly Strung" incorporates Aram Khachaturian's "Saber Dance," itself a dizzying whirling dervish of adrenaline, with some Duane Eddy-sounding surf guitar.

I don't mind the reworking of classical tunes with techno and electronic drum fills. My main issues with this involves proper credit, which if not given, becomes plagiarism-simply signifying "Copyright Control" in the credits, just does not do-and a sound, which is vivacious, soaring, and infectious, that nevertheless doesn't show much evolution from their first two albums. The only thing that shows evolution is their transition to FHM or Maxim models with a sickly magazine gloss on the album cover and inner sleeve, as if someone sprayed something on the ladies, which sadly detracts from the fact that they are talented string players. Summer dresses and bikinis, fair enough, but lose that model gloss!

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