Clannad Vocal Image Album Sorarado – Review

Album Title: Sorarado
Visual Novel Title: Clannad
Artist: riya; Magome Togoshi; Shinji Orito; Takumaru; Manyo
Catalog Number: KSLA-0009
Release Type: Arrangement
Release Date: December 28, 2003


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
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

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“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

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“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.

Roaring Ocean

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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

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“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

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“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

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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

About the author

Sorrow-kun Guest Contributor & Editor-in-Chief of The Nihon Review.

7 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. zzeroparticle says:

    The thing I find most enjoyable in this album are the picks for the arrangements themselves. A casual stroll through most Clannad arrange albums include pretty much the same old stuff, from Mag Mell, to Tiny Palm, to Ana, and of course, To the Same Heights. Here, the picks are a bit more on the diverse end and expose us to a lot more of Clannad’s underlooked tracks, which is always a good thing, especially when it’s set to riya’s ethereal-y voice.

  2. Why have I not found this and listened to it yet? I absolutely adore Clannad and the music (and even just the style of music) used in the series. Now I absolutely must find this. And I love how the cover is the little robot. So cute.

  3. Sorrow-kun says:

    @zzeroparticle
    Yeah, riya was just about the perfect choice of singer for this album. There’s something about her singing that’s so surreal and distant.

    @Arianna Sterling
    After hearing “Over” played as an insert song during ep 18 of the anime, I just had to track this down. I’ve yet to hear a Clannad soundtrack I didn’t like, but this one was particularly good, IMO.

  4. chikorita157 says:

    Haven’t listened it for myself, but I did expect it to be really good since it’s Key afterall… except for Girls Dead Monster of course. :p

  5. Yi says:

    A bunch of nice tracks here. Everything has this soothing dreamy quality. Nice review. ^ ^

  6. mrwan says:

    A pleasant little album, though compared to other works by Riya, this collection is a bit forgettable. (for me, her insert tracks from the Clannad OST are at a much higher standard and her 2005 album Love Song are some of her best) I did enjoy The Girl’s Fantasy very much.

  7. Khu says:

    Have you tried Sorarado Append? It’s not too much different from Sorarado, but the different instrumentality and arrangements for some of the songs is astounding.

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