alan – JAPAN PREMIUM BEST & MORE

March 1, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
alan – JAPAN PREMIUM BEST & MORE

CD 1 ~JAPAN PREMIUM BEST~
1. Ashita e no Sanka
2. Hitotsu
3. Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~
4. Sora Uta
5. Kaze no Tegami
6. RED CLIFF ~Shin.Sen~
7. Megumi no Ame
8. Gunjou no Tani
9. Kuon no Kawa
10. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~
11. Swear
12. Diamonds
13. Over the clouds
14. Kaze ni Mukau Hana
15. Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru

CD 2 ~MORE~
1. ECHOES
2. Komorebi
3. eternal love ~Koi no Hana~
4. Venus Flower
5. Wasurenaide ( S’capade featuring alan)
6. Ai wa Chikara (alan × Kei Fukui)

♦ ♦ ♦

JAPAN PREMIUM BEST & MORE is the first compilation album by Tibetan singer alan, and it will be released on March 2, 2011. It will feature two discs, the first with her 15 Japanese singles and the second with six new tracks. It was released in three different versions: a limited edition 2CD+DVD edition, a regular  2CD+DVD edition, and a regular 1CD edition.

Now most of the songs are those we already know, if not by heart. Ashita e no Sanka is the first, and I still get wintervibes from this one because of the chimes and the echoes like the wind is blowing through a snowy landscape. This song is way better than the Chinese equivalent Míng Rì Zàn Gē, she doesn’t screw up her wailing here. Pretty awesome for a first single

I have always underestimated Hitotsu, while it’s actually a quite beautiful song. It only features some soft percussion, a piano and some strings. I really like this song, although I loved its B-side, Kimi Omou Sora, to death. In some parts of the song, an erhu can be heard and it gives that signature alan feel.

Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ is my favorite A-side of the ‘Voice of EARTH’ era, and it has always been. It’s so peaceful with soft vocals from alan in the verses and a great wail in the chorus. The children’s choir really adds up to the song, and the one who came up with the arrangement for this track is a complete genius in my opinion. Another erhu in the bridge, how I love that instrument with alan’s music.

One of alan’s rare uptempo tracks (in the first era) is Sora Uta, it’s definitely more agressive than the other tracks on her debut album. It has a bit heavier percussion, faster paced as well, and the entire chorus has an attitude. It’s a great combination of both traditional tribal effects and Asian strings and modern guitars, a piano, synths and percussion.

Kaze no Tegami immediately made me think of the element Wind because of it’s etherial sound. It’s a slow song, but it has some agressive elements such as some electric guitars in the chorus. It’s good alan can release both ballads and more stronger tracks like this one, and although the music gets fiercer, her voice is still soft and pretty.

alan releases the drama with RED CLIFF ~Shin.Sen~, the song that has to be the most perfect arranged one in her discography. It’s mysterious, yet still very inviting and it fits her like a glove. The song builds something strong and solid which is very pleasant to listen to, but still tense and haunting. I love alan’s wailing in the bridge, it adds even more drama to the song.

The next track reminded me very much of the drama film ‘Anna and the King’, how strange that may seem. Megumi no Ame is a balance between all the elements that were represented on ‘Voice of EARTH’, and features an erhu, a piano and strings most of the time. This is a very peaceful track and I was very attracted to alan’s voice and the erhu in the last part of the song.

Gunjou no Tani is the song that I believe is alan’s best uptempo A-side ever released. It uses more heavy percussion and dramatic strings, and this time alan even belts out some of her lyrics. This song sounds even better when placed after Megumi no Ame. alan’s high notes during the last part of the song were lovely.

Kuon no Kawa is the perfect single to start the ‘my life’ era. That album seems like the ‘Ayufication’ of alan, but with this song she proves she always stuck to her roots. I have been addicted to this song a few weeks ago and I still love its mysterious and traditional ambience. It always took me some time to appreciate the verses as well, but now I love the entire song. It’s a very bombastic song, sort of like a new version of RED CLIFF.

The cover of BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ was terrible, it didn’t fit the song at all, but this track luckily is one of the better ones on ‘my life’. It’s another winter ballad, yeay! But still, alan can nail it like no other. It’s like Ashita e no Sanka, but then a lot better. I’m glad that, at this point in her carreer, she can still include the traditional elements in her songs like the chimes, strings and the piano.

Even though Swear is quite a good song, this was quite a step back for the ‘epic alan’. Apart from that, I think alan was very good at showing her diversity at this point, too bad her fans didn’t all like it. It’s more pop than her signature epic songs, so it’s very different from the previous songs with a more bouncing percussion, some strings and a good bassline.

I was so happy alan made another version of the hideous ‘Essence of me’, and it’s called Diamonds. It’s so much better than the electronified original, this takes more after the ‘Voice of EARTH’ songs like BRAVE with the agressive electric guitar solo. Yet it still reminds me of Ayumi’s ‘M’ with its ‘cold melody’ and alan’s adlibbing during some parts. One of the better songs of the latest era.

With Over the clouds, I stopped complaining about the Ayufication of alan for life. Let’s just stop all the hate against that term, let’s face it: alan is really good at releasing some very strong pop songs as well! It would have done very well on ‘my life’, but she saved it for this compilation album, thank god. Her voice sounds very good with a vocoder, I think she should vary between these pop tracks and her epic songs for her next album.

Kaze ni Mukau Hana mixes influences from the two previous era’s into a lovely powerballad. After some pop songs, alan returns with some epicness up her sleeve and I must say the chorus is beautiful. Originality is alan’s friend, really. The song flows very well, it never gets boring and I love the arrangement. It features the ethereal strings again to give it that epic alan feel.

alan’s last single is Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru, a magical winterballad. Chimes and lots of strings set to a sort of Waltz rhythm, and I love the entire ambience of this song. It’s so different from the rest, it’s unique and beautiful, even the verses. It’s like BALLAD, but then with some mysterious RED CLIFF influences and a colder melody. It’s not euphoric, it’s simply capturing.

On to the new tracks! ECHOES is the first out of the bunch, and I’m so glad to hear that it’s not ‘my life’ all over again. It’s the epic side of alan with a lot of tribal drums, a piano and an erhu somewhere in the background. It’s not overly traditional, like some songs of the first era, but it’s there somewhere deep inside the song. alan surprises me very much with this song, especially in the bridge (Tibetan!), and to me her adlibbing seems to refer to the song’s title. I love this song!

Komorebi is another pop song, a more contemporary song with a soft bouncing beat with handclaps and a deep bass in the chorus. I love the opening with a piano and guitar, and I think songs like this one and the previous one are those I love to hear from alan most of all. Vocally, she did a very good job on this one with both solid and peaceful vocals.

eternal love ~Koi no Uta~ is a piano ballad from the start, but it becomes more powerful with a lot of percussion, strings and a synthy sound effect in the chorus. The bridge features more synth effects, so this song also embodies more pop elements and classical instruments. I love this combination on alan, and her vocals are the best thing about this track.

alan has a thing for flowers, that’s for sure. Venus Flower is an extremely uplifting song from the start with a sort of lounge ambience. It’s alan’s first song with a more jazzy feel to it, and I must say she pulls it off in a great way. Her vocals are a little higher pitched than usual, especially when she’s singing English words like ‘sunshine’, but it’s fine with me since this song is such a feel-good track.

One of the two collaborations on this compilation album is Wasurenaide (S’capade featuring alan). At first I didn’t recognize alan’s voice at all, but she blends in very well with this slow pop song. I don’t hear anyone else but her, so I think S’capade arranged the music for this song and alan is the only one singing. Singers like AZU also collaborated with S’capade. The music by S’capade is beautiful and alan herself blends in better than anyone else would have done. It’s a unique song, I have never heard anything like it before, I was surrounded by the music.

The last one is one I skipped, Ai wa Chikara (alan × Kei Fukui). It’s an opera song and I don’t have a thing for opera or classical music AT ALL. No offense to those who do ofcourse, it’s a good prestation by alan, but I was so annoyed by Kei Fukui that this song was not enjoyable for me at all. Why would she even include it on her album? I would avoid this song at all cost.

Most of the songs were old news ofcourse, and I have heard them so many times already so now that I see the titles, I can play the entire song in my head. Ofcourse they were all nice, except maybe for one or two tracks or so, but I enjoyed alan’s first era’s very much. This album is like a timeline, and it’s fun to hear how she starts out with her traditional erhu music and then transitions into more of a pop sound, yet still faithful to where she came from. And I’m sure she will never forget, and that she will always include those elements from the first days in her music. The second disc was really what I have been waiting for since the release of ‘my life’, finally the best of both worlds. Only the last track got on my nerves, but it was negligible, the rest was very good and it got me enthousiastic for what hopefully will become the new sound for her next studio album somewhere later this year… alan, RELEASE THAT ALBUM! xD

Favorite songs: Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~ | Sora Uta | RED CLIFF ~Shin.Sen~ | Kuon no Kawa | Diamonds | Kanashimi wa Yuki ni Nemuru | ECHOES | Komorebi | Venus Flower

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

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