Music Review: Classically Trained

Classically Trained, opens a new window by Black Violin
Since 2004, Black Violin has been one of the biggest names in classical/modern fusion, melding the classical training of violinist Kev Marcus and violist Wil B. with their love of hip-hop. Their appropriately titled 2012 album is a clear statement of their style, opening with "Overture," a purely classical string duet, and immediately following it with the characteristic hybrid sound of "Opus," the strings now accompanied by an energetic rhythm line. "Virtuoso" adds vocals to the strings, now in a busy Baroque style, and a buzzy underlying bass.  "The Mission" leans more to the modern side of things, with a poppy sound and sing-along vocals. "A-Flat" opens with a soulful dissonance, leading into a driving minor melody and mostly wordless vocals. “End of the World” is atmospheric, syncopated and layered, and “Interlude” creates a classical guitar sound with pizzicato strings accompanying a soulful vocal line. “Rock Anthem” recreates the mood of its title with sounds of distorted strings, electric bass and an audience clapping in time. “Rhapsody” melds a hip-hop rhythm with constantly moving strings, while “Triumph” creates a dichotomy between the slow power of the modern elements of the song and the fast-moving violin line, featuring solos by the viola and an electric guitar. “Go” closes out the album with a more melodic sound and inspirational lyrics (“I’m doing the best that I can”). With the more widespread use of classical instruments in modern music, listening to Black Violin might not be as groundbreaking an experience as it was when the band got its start over a decade and a half ago, but Classically Trained is a polished and confident example of its genre, and an excellent introduction if you’re unfamiliar with this musical trend. - Michelle (Sunset)