Scala & Kolacny Brothers have come to be one of my favorite musical groups, in which Scala is the name of a female choir from Belgium and the Kolacny brothers arrange/write/conduct music and play the piano accompaniment. They have a few original songs such as "Our Last Fight" and "Seashell," but their albums primarily consist of covers... Absolutely beautiful covers, perhaps the most beautiful ever made. The artists they cover lie within a pretty decent-sized range, including tracks from Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Marilyn Manson, Bjork, Nirvana, and several songs by Radiohead and Depeche Mode. The Kolacny brothers take the original music and arrange it for female voices and piano (though they have incorporated other instruments from time to time), giving them a signature dark, melodic ambience.
Though the average person has probably never heard of this lovely ensemble, many have come across their music in movie trailers, myself included. Most recently, their haunting rendition of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" was featured in the Zero Dark Thirty trailer, but they've showed up in other trailers as well. Some notable appearances include their cover of Radiohead's "Creep," which was featured in the trailer for the award-winning film The Social Network, and their version of Rammstein's "Engel," which was in the trailer for the horror film The Possession.
I discovered them through The Possession's trailer. After watching it, I did some research and found "Engel" on YouTube and I could not stop listening to it. I've never been a Rammstein fan, but Scala & Kolacny Brothers' cover of "Engel" is one of the most gorgeous yet eerie things I've ever heard. Even now when I listen to it, I can't just play it once; I never get tired of it. The piano is perfect, the vocals are perfect... The verses are whispered by the choir, but it builds throughout, leading to an amazing climax of female vocals and powerful piano.
Of course, after being so impressed by that song, I had to look up everything else and begin purchasing their music. I don't think I've heard a single track I haven't liked so far. It all has a Scala & Kolacny Brothers feel to it, but that certainly doesn't mean it's all as thick and dark as "Engel." Songs like "Solisbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel are much happier-sounding, while many others such as Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" and The Foo Fighters' "Everlong" have a dreamy quality. Actually, upon buying their self-titled album, "Everlong" caught my attention right away. It's some peculiar combination of emotional and peaceful, and it's definitely one of my favorites.
One personal bonus from this group is that they cover artists I like, so it's always fun to see how they can transform a piece into something smooth and classical. But even when it's not something I know (or even like, for that matter), I look up the original and compare the versions to see how different they are. However, I don't disregard their original music; it has an undeniable quality that is equivalent to that of their covers.
But lately, I've been quite addicted to their cover of "Exit Music (For a Film)," originally by Radiohead. It's so melancholy in its quietness and ending climax alike. I get chills every time, and I'm not exaggerating. Those high notes just get me... Every. Time. This song is probably their most epic. I have to give Scala props for the chills; their voices have an incredible effect. But I also need to credit the Kolacny brothers. Steven Kolacny is one of the best arrangers, and Stijn Kolacny is such a heartfelt conductor; it's easy to see that he really feels the music with us. Those two are just as responsible for bringing Scala to life as the women of Scala are, just as the Scala ladies are as responsible for bringing these arrangements to life as the brothers themselves.