‘Don’t look at that stuff - listen to the music’While waiting for Saturday evening’s performance by Bond to begin, I was razzing Kim Eun-gang, a promotions staff member at Universal Music Limited, about the blatantly sexual press kit I had been sent. The “string quartet” (and the term should be in quotes because their music relies on a synthesizer, two percussionists, a guitarist and a bass player in addition to the four sets of strings) comprises four classically-trained young women who set longhair music, folk songs and whatever else strikes their fancy to dance beats. But those photos! Just what are the girls selling? I inquired. “Don’t look at that stuff,” Ms. Kim said. “Just listen to their music.”
And that was pretty good advice, even if the quartet’s promoters seem to think that a “lads magazine” approach to marketing works better.
The music is in the tradition of the Boston Pops orchestra in a sense, although the Pops tends to focus on classical-style renditions of popular tunes. It also has an analog in Kimera, a soprano who put classical airs to rock beats while wearing KISS-style makeup. Bond features miniskirts and legs up to here.
The group works both sides of the street, taking some of its material from the classical stream and some from folk and pop airs. But the common denominator in most of the music they played Saturday on the grounds of the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill was a driving dance beat and lots of percussion and synthesized effects.
Perhaps few in the audience knew quite what to make of the performance at first; although the crowd was mostly young, they came alive only during the last four or five numbers ― or perhaps that was when the breeze sprang up to relieve the mugginess of the evening.
Bond’s new album, “Shine,” will have a place in the rotation of my car stereo, although classical music lovers would probably shudder. The four are all accomplished musicians, and in concert the four sets of strings sounded wonderfully intertwined and exciting at times. But other arrangements ladled on the synthesized effects, and ended up sounding as overprocessed as Cheez Whiz.
Indeed, the best part of the concert was a short set about halfway through, when they abandoned their electric violins, cello and viola for the acoustical varieties. It was then that the wonderfully complex melodies that a string quartet is capable of were on full display. Their acoustic rendition of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” was nuanced and delicate ― we need an MTV “Unplugged” concert from them.
One area that the group will have to work on, though, is stagemanship. While that would be no problem for a traditional string quartet, Bond likes to prance a bit, but not very creatively. Form a row, form a line abreast...you should pardon the expression...prance around a bit. Put the electric viola carefully on the stage, turn a back to the audience, wiggle a bit, carefully pick up the viola.
Don’t look at that stuff; just listen to the music.
by John Hoog