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Eclipse

Once (2001)

4.0

July 11, 2002

Tuning / Blend 4.7
Energy / Intensity 5.0
Innovation / Creativity 4.3
Soloists 4.3
Sound / Production 5.0
Repeat Listenability 4.0
Tracks
1 Affirmation 4.0
2 King of Pain 4.7
3 You 4.7
4 Look My Way 4.0
5 Africa 4.0
6 Sharing the Sky 4.0
7 Vision 4.0
8 All My Life 4.0
9 Danny Boy 5.0
10 Everything 4.0
11 Zoot Suit Riot 4.3

Recorded 2001
Total time: 38:06, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 5
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Affirmation 4
2 King of Pain 4
3 You 5
4 Look My Way 4
5 Africa 4
6 Sharing the Sky 4
7 Vision 4
8 All My Life 4
9 Danny Boy 5
10 Everything 4
11 Zoot Suit Riot 4

Recipe for Eclipse: one part classic Trenchcoats and one part Christian a cappella. Add cheese. Mix thoroughly. Serve six guys while hot. Am I right? O.K., well, wait 'til you hear them sing.

You know that pop song quality? The boy band sound? That's the upper voices of Eclipse. Clear and bright, a perfect blend of tenors, lots of little R&B licks adding pop-soul to the sweet love-lyrics...a 13-year-old girl's dream.

The bass lines, while also well-sung (though the liner notes don't credit people by parts so we don't know by whom) lacks some of the fullness common in many other contemporary a cappella recordings. The exception is All My Life. There, the bass overpowers the mix.

The biggest problem for Eclipse, however, is their vocal percussion. It's accurate and energetic, but simply fails to drive the songs. There's just no punch. This could be a production issue, but nonetheless it keeps Eclipse from crossing the divide from good to great.

Experts tell us not to look directly at an eclipse, but I'd keep my eye on these guys. With all this talent, and a little time to refine their sound, their next release should be astronomical.


Tuning / Blend 5
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Affirmation 4
2 King of Pain 5
3 You 5
4 Look My Way 4
5 Africa 3
6 Sharing the Sky 4
7 Vision 4
8 All My Life 4
9 Danny Boy 5
10 Everything 4
11 Zoot Suit Riot 5

Eclipse's Once is a solid album on all fronts: a good number of the songs are original; the percussion is slamming; the arrangements and harmonies are tight and complex. There are some really great tracks on this album, my favorite being the original piece You.

These guys have great energy and songwriting talent — the originals were penned by four of the six members of the group. However, there were some decisions that irked me.

The original songs were quite good. The writing has a poppy, upbeat style that is refreshing even as it is boy band-ish. My only issues: The lyrics and melody of the chorus of Everything is very similar to the chorus of Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry right down to the words: "Everything's gonna be all right. Everything's gonna be OK. Everything's gonna be all right". But Everything was still a great song — just change the chorus ASAP!

The covered tracks were mostly stellar with a few exceptions. While it was an interesting decision to record Africa at light speed, the fast version didn't really work for me. This is one song that should stay in ballad form. Also, the opening of All My Life is a few measures of percussive breathing that is exactly like Rockapella's opening for Ellie My Love. I don't know if they were aware of that when they made the choice, but perhaps their audiences don't overlap and wouldn't notice.

Eclipse was recently seen performing at the Olympics for the opening and closing ceremonies, and as that shows, they are a very talented group. All things considered, Once is a fun album and a worthy addition to your contemporary a cappella collection.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Affirmation 4
2 King of Pain 5
3 You 4
4 Look My Way 4
5 Africa 5
6 Sharing the Sky 4
7 Vision 4
8 All My Life 4
9 Danny Boy 5
10 Everything 4
11 Zoot Suit Riot 4

Eclipse has put out a CD that is the definition of solid. It is polished, well-tuned and balanced, with capable solos and a healthy mix of covers and respectable original compositions. What really kicks them into the stratosphere is their original and enjoyable arrangement style when approaching covers. As a collegiate a cappella guy, I found the different arranging approaches by the best professional groups (who usually have 1/2 to 1/3 the voices of college groups) already exciting and different. Eclipse takes the next step by reinterpreting the songs and truly making them their own. Additionally, they attack their tracks with an enthusiasm and energy that had me bopping along despite myself.

Most other groups would have made All My Life a sweet R&B ballad; Eclipse gives it a kick-start with heavy percussion and a driving energy. And any group who can revitalize done-dead songs like King of Pain and Africa deserves some serious kudos. The famous Police tune receives a new treatment full of riffs and edgy soul while the tapestry of percussion and block sounds in Africa grabs the listener from beat one. Patrick Rose seems to be a major force behind Eclipse's music, with arranging or writing credits on nearly every track, and gets my praise for leading a group with such distinctive style and sound.

Little pet peeve: I would love to see more extensive liner notes the next time around. It's frustrating to listen through a track of strong performances without being able to identify who the slammin' solo, great percussion, or solid bass line is coming from. In particular, Eclipse tends to trade solos back and forth (which is great), making it that much harder to try to identify voices without help.

Eclipse can be proud of this disc, with a few stellar tracks making the purchase wholly worthwhile. I can't wait to see what songs they reinvigorate next.


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