“A Night in Strings” is an apt title. The strings in question are two violins, one viola and a cello, played by this female quartet fromGermany. This collection of covers from such varied artists as LinkinPark, Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga and Coldplay is indeed the music of the night, even it wasn’t to begin with. The music they play is representative of a dark and mysterious setting. The sleeve pictures of the ladies in their underwear, blindfolds and suggestively red and black outfits make it clear that there is nothing conventional or straight-laced about this quartet and their “classical interpretations of contemporary pop, gothic rock and soundtrack scores”.
Moody and dark describe the opening track “Wonderful Life”. The strings add subtle shades of sounds. The lyricless music is expansive and full of feeling. It is as not as shocking as the band’s image might suggest. Linkin Park’s “In the End” is then subject to stringed sadness. The next classical and quiet piece has the air of a soundtrack, as so it proves to be in the form of the “New Moon” theme. The expression and feeling is at the forefront with sinister strains working in the background. It’s ok but I wasn’t really picking up on this. If this wasn’t too slow, the quartet then descend into gloom and tears. Once more the subtle tones pad out and enhance the weepy violin tune. I’m sorry, but the original version of Depeche Mode’s “Home”, which I what this represents, has much greater depth and sentimental range. This is always the danger with these things. Moodiness runs through these classical interpretations but excitement is lacking. There is slightly more urgency on “Cry Me a River”, but again it is characterised by slow progressions. Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”, which has strings in the original, is recognisable, but instead of the Kentish lady’s uniquely dreamy warblings, there’s a lofty air, supported by a melancholy tune with the soothing strings. The net result is that nothing is added to the original. I really tried with this album, even to the point of listening to Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” in response to listening to the Eklipse version. Basically the Lady Gaga version has character. As played by Eklipse, it’s pedestrian but the touches behind it do make it more bearable. I read that this is supposed to display Eklipse’s upbeat side but on the evidence of this album as a whole, I’d say they don’t have one. To be charitable the Eklipse edition of “Paparazzi” does rain mystery but I would regard it as typically calming than upbeat. Like “Home”, Snow Patrol’s “Run” is portrayed in a dreamy and classical way. It’s hazy, slow-burn material, not unlike theme music, weepy and expansive. A better example of this style is the following track “Mumbai”, the theme from “Bombay”. This was the only track that I really liked on the album. The effect of dripping water in the background gives it a chilling atmosphere, enhanced further by the mystical Indian theme at the beginning. It is utterly entrancing and beautiful. The classical touch applied to Coldplay’s “Clocks” just resulted in a classical-sounding Coldplay. The technical virtuosity is unquestioned but again this lacked excitement and smacked of muzak, except that this was just too sombre and dreary to be played in a hotel lobby.
There are mixed messages here. The band’s image suggests something raunchy. It’s not that. If the outward appearance is “shocking”, the music is conservative. It’s also expressive and classical, which is after all what Eklipse are: a classical string quartet. Without question, it’s all well played and there is flair and feeling. I don’t miss the vocals and the fact that the original songs are of pop, rock or soundtrack origin is irrelevant. Their definition of these songs is constrained by the instruments they used but they seem to suck all the excitement out of the tracks they play. There were some compelling moments and moods but this was for the most part quite dreary and they needed to up the ante once in a while, instead of replying upon their image. Logically, I would have thought that Eklipse would find support beyond the confines of metal, but it remains to be seen whether fans of more conservative genres would go for the raunchy image and sombre renditions. It’s an enigma, I say.
(3.5 / 10 Andrew Doherty)