Home > Articles > Music journalism > Rare Breed

Making Music, 1998

Rare Breed review

Sean McManus reviews Rare Breed's pre-Christmas 1998 London gig

The backlash against synthesisers saw everyone from The Wonderstuff to Guns & Roses dripping violin arrangements over their songs. In chart singles, strings were used as a substitute for dramatic songwriting and before exhausting its potential, the pop orchestra became a cliche.

Enter Rare Breed, a band that uses orchestral instruments but stands out from the rest. The choice of instruments is odder than most: a tuba oompahs in the bass, while the slightly more familiar flute, electric violin and trumpet flirtily swap tunes. Guitar, drums and vocals complete the soundscape. No keyboards or bass guitar pad the sound: what you see is what you get.

The band's ace is that unlike most of the acts using orchestral instruments lately, the music sounds and feels as though it was written for those instruments. In an age when computers are used by most composers, many orchestral parts scream that they were written on a synthesiser keyboard. Rare Breed's tunes owe less to riffs and more to flighty melodies hopping between instruments. Nor are the classical parts reserved for the middle eight and the introduction. Throughout the verses, the band members play off each other, enjoying a classical fluidity within the drumbeats that a larger orchestral section couldn't afford. The songs themselves are like soundtracks to biographies, each a timeless story, sung with passion and vigour. Even if the band never joins the scramble for a chart placing, the members can feel good knowing that they have shown how it should be done.

Credits

© Sean McManus. All rights reserved.

Visit www.sean.co.uk for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

Discover my latest books and music

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

Scratch Programming IES

This book, now fully updated for Scratch 3, will take you from the basics of the Scratch language into the depths of its more advanced features. A great way to start programming.

Mission Python book

Mission Python

Code a space adventure game in this Python programming book published by No Starch Press.

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps book

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps

Discover how to make 3D games, create mazes, build a drum machine, make a game with cartoon animals and more!

Coder Academy book

Coder Academy

Learn to make games and other programs in Scratch, and make a web page in HTML. Highly interactive book for 7-10 year olds.

Artificial: album cover shows a steampunk heart

Artificial

What happens beyond AI when the machines become emotional? Discover my new album of electronic music here.

Walking astronaut from Mission Python book Top | Search | Help | Privacy | Access Keys | Contact me
Home | Newsletter | Blog | Copywriting Services | Books | Free book chapters | Articles | Music | Photos | Games | Shop | About