Mai: By Eri Sugai
Eri Sugai is probably one of the best-known unknowns in Japan.
That's because most of her work so far has been in television commercials. The talented composer, arranger and singer has lent her vocal talents to more than 200 television ads.
Thankfully, the talent scouts at Pacific Moon records recognized Eri as a national treasure and arranged for the U.S. release of her new album "Mai."
The title is Japanese for "dance." That's about as good a description of this CD as any, I suppose. The main instrument on all 10 of these tracks is Eri's voice. By layering it and taping multiple tracks, she's woven a rich tapestry of both Japanese lyrics and wordless chants.
The effect is mind-numbing.
I mean that in a good way. Much like Gregorian chants or ritual drumming, Eri's music has a way of helping listeners transcends their surroundings. You can literally lose yourself in the vocals and drift along into another world.
The world you'll find yourself in fluctuates wildly. At times the chants do have an almost religious, gospel feeling. Other times, they sound a bit like the Go-Gos singing acapella in Japanese.
Eri explains the process behind of of the songs on the CD as experimenting with sound. The result was China Rose.
"I created this song wondering if I could capture an Asian taste with independent melodies going all at once," Eri says. "I took wordless sounds, coined just for this album, and made melodies as though spinning two, then three colored strands into a thread."
From martial to mellow, you can find just the feeling you're looking for when you spin up this CD. But then, showing off the dazzling array of possibilities the human voice contains was Eri's intention all along.
"The human voice has the power to move people," Eri says. "Since the dawn of history, among all the animals which use their voice as a way to transfer intentions, only human beings have elevated songs to an art form. Songs have always been loved by people, so I wanted to make a primarily vocal album to show some of what is possible for the human voice to accomplish."
Sample audio clips and purchase information for Mai are available at Amazon.
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