|Visual Novel Title:||Clannad|
|Artist:||riya; Magome Togoshi; Shinji Orito; Takumaru; Manyo|
|Release Date:||December 28, 2003|
|1. The Girl’s Fantasy||riya; Magome Togoshi||5:43|
|2. Over||riya; Shinji Orito||5:07|
|3. Roaring Ocean||riya; Shinji Orito||5:51|
|4. Memories of a Distant Journey||riya; Shinji Orito||5:38|
|5. Ten Thousand Places||riya; Shinji Orito; Magome Togoshi||6:53|
|6. Shining in the Sky||riya; Magome Togoshi||5:11|
Review: The first Clannad image album, Sorarado, features six arrangements based off tracks from the Clannad Original Soundtrack and sung by riya, Eufonius’ talented lead vocalist. The entire album is extremely impressive: where the temptation might have been to make six songs that stick strictly to the pop formula, we instead get arrangements that show a great deal of sophistication. New layers are constantly added where appropriate, vocal harmonies echo and depart from the main melody, and, more often than not, the standard verse-chorus structure is ignored. The result is an uplifting, almost surreal experience that, ironically, is grounded by its meticulous arrangements.
The Girl’s Fantasy
“The Girl’s Fantasy” starts off slowly, and riya sings above a lingering bassline with deliberateness. The song is in no rush… it isn’t until more than two minutes in, after steadily adding layers, that the song takes on a more urgent tone, at which point percussion is introduced. It’s here that the song takes on a more dreamlike feeling, one which will become fairly familiar by the end of the album. The vocal harmony is hymn-like, and the overall song almost feels like it’s set in a peaceful savannah. The end of the song crescendos, building up not to a climax, but a perfect segue into the next track, the iconic “Over”.
“Over” is most recognized among anime fans as the insert song that plays at the end of the episode 18 of the first season of Clannad. It’s vastly different from every other song on the album, but while it stands out, it also stands tall. It’s more of a traditional J-pop song than the rest of the tracks, invigorated by a vibrant energy which so suits Fujibayashi Kyou, the character whose theme song, “Sore ha Kaze no Youni,” “Over” is based on. It’s catchy, cute, but also extremely well-sung and is just as multi-layered as the rest of the tracks on this album. The bridge is a bit more typical of the general tone of the album, emitting the same abstract, removed feeling as many of the other songs. I don’t think anything would rock my face off harder than to hear Hirohashi Ryou sing this song.
There’s something earnest about riya’s singing at the beginning of “Roaring Ocean.” Soon after the introduction, riya becomes subdued as a tender piano melody plays, but she quickly breaks out into a strong voice, showing, in a very short burst, just how versatile a singer she is. My only complaint is minor, but this song weakens with the introduction of percussion about halfway through. It is almost as if the song had run out of things to do, and needed to extend itself, but the percussion undermines it, sounding tinny and obviously synthesized (or poorly recorded).
Memories of a Distant Journey
“Roaring Ocean” melts into “Memories of a Distant Journey,” again an example of the impeccably-executed segues that allow Sorarado to flow. “Memories of a Distant Journey” is almost a sadder version of “Roaring Ocean” and has something of a Celtic feeling. Riya deliberately lets her voice waver, adding emotion to it and again demonstrating her skill. The harmonies in this song are much deeper than most of the other songs, and also have a hymn-like feeling.
Ten Thousand Places
“Ten Thousand Places” is a rather flighty song compared to the more slow-paced arrangements that dominate Sorarado. This is the point in the album where the multi-layered transforms into the eclectic, and the song has some rather abrupt transitions that, for some bizarre reason, work. The percussion is also tinny here, which is unfortunate, but riya’s short burst singing accompanied by a sitar (of all things) is again striking. The vocal harmonies both echo and preempt riya’s singing, and continue to be a highlight of each arrangement. An almost entirely new song breaks out during the bridge, a much more subdued theme reminiscent of the tone of Clannad’s background music, before suddenly snapping back to its normal energetic self. It’s not a bad song, but it sticks out, even moreso than “Over”, and if this album has a weak point, this is probably it.
Shining in the Sky
The introduction of “Shining in the Sky” is almost like a lullaby. riya’s voice is soothing, and the violins that carry her voice are smooth and continuous. However, the lyricless middle section of the song is arguably the highlight of the entire album. A mixture of choral harmonies, violins, a recurring piano melody and an irregular baseline, this segment is surreal and haunting but also, strangely, warm and sweet.
Rating: Very Good