alan – Voice of EARTHApril 6, 2009 at 8:06 AM | Posted in alan | 14 Comments
The cover of the CD+DVD edition
Voice of EARTH is alan’s debut Japanese album and it was released on March 4, 2009. The album reached #15 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 23,568 copies.
♦ ♦ ♦
Tennyo ~interlude~ provides for a great album opener because it prepares you for what’s to come. The ear splitting mountain note at the very beginning startled me when I first heard it! The track starts off slowly then boom, it builds up after that wailing. The music speeds up, heavy beats come in, and if you listen closely, you can hear alan singing in her native Tibetan behind drastic vocal distortions.
I knew Ashita e no Sanka, her Japanese debut single, would appear at the beginning of the album. I believe that THIS is the song that defines her as an artist because it shows off her signature Tibetan wailing, traditional music style, and organically themed lyrics. Even now, the song astounds me.
There are some upbeat tracks on this album and Sora Uta, the sky elemental single, is the first one to show up. Mixing up ethnic sounds with modern synth, the song has an ethereal and whimsical quality to it.
Now we go from sky to earth with the next track, Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~. It has now become one of my favorite songs from her and I just absolutely love it. Relating to the element the song represents, the music has a very “earthy” sound to it thanks to its use of traditional instruments.
Hitotsu was one of alan’s more simpler A-sides arrangement-wise. That being said, I still love this song. Even with the more reserved sound, it’s an emotionally charged ballad with fantastic vocals. The chorus is definitely the highlight when she performs those elongated power notes.
The next track has always been “so-so” for me. Kaze no Tegami was the wind elemental A-side and perhaps her most aggressive song to date. The music features electric guitar and synth, creating an overall pop arrangement.
The first new full length track to appear is BRAVE. It’s aggressive and upbeat like Kaze no Tegami, but the music has a more ethnic sound with its use of guitars and alan’s wailing in the background. I was surprised with the amount of English in this song as well. She says a random phrase every now and then so I thought that was interesting. Out of the album’s new tracks, this is one of the more impressive ones.
Then we have Yume no Garden. Like the title implies, the music has a hazy, dream-like quality to it. Gentle piano, electric guitar chords, and beats combine to form a sweeping and ethereal arrangement. I liked the chorus the most when the erhu shows up and there’s an upheaval in sound with the other instruments.
The pristine Gunjou no Tani is next and I think it’s her best upbeat A-side so far. Unlike some of the other upbeat tracks, this song makes full use of organic instruments like flowing strings and percussion. alan sounds positively radiant in the chorus when she performs those high notes as well.
I REALLY like my friend. It is such a sweet and relaxing track. The arrangement is quite simple and only features acoustic guitar and chimes, but they sound really good next to alan’s voice. The chorus adds a shaker in the background and she displays lovely vocals.
I don’t really remember the next two tracks and I think that they are the most unmemorable on the album. Liberty is kind of boring but at least it sounds pretty. Characterized by laid back strings and drums, this song just strolls on by. alan’s vocals are on the reserved side too.
Tsuki ga Watashi was a little better though. It starts off pretty uneventful but the piano is great and the verses do transition into a vibrant chorus. I liked the adlibbing and strings that followed as well. Like in Liberty, alan’s vocals are soft and laid back.
FIRE AND WATER, BITCHES. That’s what we get for the next two tracks and first up is the super dramatic RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~, the fire elemental single. This was my favorite of the 5 elemental singles because it is epic and full of theatrics, perfect for the movie it was featured in. The orchestral arrangement is amazing and really adds to that overall cinematic sound, especially since the music has a great buildup of tension and development as it progresses.
To balance fire is Megumi no Ame, the water elemental single. Even though it is the most reserved of the 5 elemental singles, it’s very pretty and has a peaceful atmosphere full of vivid strings and piano. The ending sequence always gets to me when alan displays those powerful vocals and the song closes with a graceful erhu. On the normal editions of the album, this is the final track.
However, on the first pressings of either edition, the album ends with Together, which is by far the best new track. It is STUNNING from beginning to end and incredibly beautiful to the ears. It’s a shame that this song is only a limited track because it makes for the perfect ending of this album. alan composed this song herself and I thought she did an excellent job. I loved the strings the most since they flowed so well next to the ethnic string plucking and drums. The middle sequence of the song features alan speaking in Tibetan and it is quickly followed by powerful, exuberant vocals. The song has a simple, yet powerful message as well: protect our Earth because it is the only one we have.
What can I say? Voice of EARTH is an amazing album. It is one of the strongest debuts I have seen in a J-pop artist and even though I have already heard most of the album through its EIGHT previous released singles, they all form together with the new tracks to create a truly remarkable listening experience. The album has a solid theme focusing on planet Earth and every track relates to that theme so it balances out in the end. Some of the new tracks could have been better, but I didn’t find a single unsatisfactory song on this album. As a whole, the album is neat and flows very well too. With her stellar voice, alan can prove herself to be a force that is able to move mountains.
1. Tennyo ~interlude~ (天女 ～interlude～)
2. Ashita e no Sanka (明日への讃歌)
3. Sora Uta (空唄)
4. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ (懐かしい未来 ～longing future～)
5. Hitotsu (ひとつ)
6. Kaze no Tegami (風の手紙)
8. Yume no Garden (夢のガーデン)
9. Gunjou no Tani (群青の谷)
10. my friend
12. Tsuki ga Watashi (月がわたし)
13. RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~ (RED CLIFF ～心・戦～)
14. Megumi no Ame (恵みの雨)
15. Together [First pressing bonus track]
Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!