Escala, the classical crossover string quartet from the second season of Britain's Got Talent, worked with veteran English pop producer Trevor Horn on their eponymous album debut, a wide-ranging collection of cover material. Comprised of Tasya Hodges (cello), Izzy Johnston (violin), Chantal Leverton (viola), and Victoria Lyon (violin), the ladies bear a striking resemblance to another all-female classical crossover string quartet with ties to England, the commercial powerhouse Bond. In fact, there are several songs on Escala that have also been covered by Bond on one album or another: Karl Jenkins' "Palladio," Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," Robert Miles' "Children," and Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." The similarities between Escala and Bond are indeed too striking to overlook. While this might be a problem for classical crossover listeners looking for original music, it shouldn't be a problem for Bond fans who don't mind more of the same. Escala were finalists on Britain's Got Talent in 2008, after all, and they perform a wide-ranging collection of cover material on their debut album. "Palladio" and "Live and Let Die," two of the songs that Escala performed live on Britain's Got Talent, show up here in new arrangements. The version of "Kashmir" is unique in that it features Slash of Guns N' Roses on guitar. Also familiar is "Requiem for a Tower," a version of "Lux Aeterna" from the film Requiem for a Dream (2000) that was repurposed for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The remaining material ranges from George Frederick Handel's "Sarabande" to Ennio Morricone's "Chi Mai," and though some of it borders on obscurity, none of the material is original. Actually, there's not much original about Escala. They're good at what they do, but they don't do anything special that hasn't been done before, neither their style nor the material they cover.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier