alan: RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen –

1. RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen –

2. Xin Zhan – RED CLIFF –

3. Ashita e no Sanka – Orchestra Version –

RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen – is alan’s sixth single, released on October 15th, 2008. It reached #15 on Oricon and has sold 5 260 copies. It is the fourth of her five singles based on the five elements of the Tibetan Bön and the Japanese Godai, this one representing fire. It was chosen as the theme for the Chinese historical blockbuster Red Cliff (“Chibi” in Chinese).

RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen – (Red Cliff – Heart, War -) is a gorgeous, powerful and dramatic ballad with a focus on the strings. Once you listen to the instrumental, you realize that it depends heavily on alan’s vocal work to give it a more well-defined and polished melody, because alone, the instrumental is actually quite low-key and unvarying, which is where the Chinese element comes in, because it’s endless repetition of the same two-three notes creates a mesmerizing melody. Then again, this song is the proof that alan’s vocals are absolutely fantastic. The verses are far less dramatic than the overwhelming chorus, but they provide for a period of calm after the powerful chorus. By the time alan begins to reach the high mountain notes, toward the end, you feel that it couldn’t get better, but at that moment, the cherry hadn’t been put on the perfect cake quite yet. No; the part that made this song perfect was the sublime ending, just like the beginning, with the gently weeping violins and the soft vocals. This song isn’t catchy; it’s extremely beautiful, and it’s exactly six minutes long of high-quality pleasure.

The Chinese version, RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen -, Xin Zhan – RED CLIFF – (Heart, War – RED CLIFF -) is not much different, except for two obvious differences: the language and the lyrics. I’ve heard that the original version, so this one, is much more touching in its lyrics, but, whether its just because I’m not used to Chinese music, the Chinese seems not to fit quite as well as the Japanese.

Ashita e no Sanka – Orchestra Version – (a hymn for tomorrow) is actually a disappointment for me. Alright, it’s beautiful, and the chorus is actually better than RED CLIFF’s, but the song’s structure is very confusing. The beginning, when she shouts “todoke, ashita e no sanka”, was an absolute turn-off for me, because it seemed to just drop the whole beauty of the original version. What then follows in an instrumental piece of no more than ten seconds which really reminds me of the soundtrack on Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. The verses aren’t all that nice, just too quiet when put beside the chorus, but then we get to exactly that, the mind-blowing chorus, which is introduced by a slowly accelerating melody but then still manages to seem like it comes out of nowhere. The contrast between verses and chorus is just too big.

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