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Monday, October 22, 2007

The Voice of Japan: Ayaka Hirahara

Japan is a country of surprises. And most of the time, it is also a country of extremities & contrasts. This phenomenon also applies to their music scene.

I've always been intrigued by this. Besides the usual nasal-sounding out-of-tune sugar-coated Teeny Bopper Idols, sometimes interesting singers do appear on the JPOP scene.

One of such rare unknown jewels is Ayaka Hirahara.

I first heard of this Japanese singer on Malaysia Airlines en route to Tokyo. The international flight by itself was fun for a small town Ah Beng like me. There were lots of gadgets. You could pick whatever movies you want to watch, and watch them until you go blind on your own console.

The same thing goes for music. You can pick any artiste and listen to the whole album. Yes, you can listen to the ENTIRE WHOLE ALBUM, and I mean EVERY SINGLE SONG. You can listen until the recording company bankrupts, and you get ear cancer.

I picked this and I was hooked.

And it took me about a year or more to find her album. I tried KL - no luck. It didn't exist. Finally, I found it down in Singapore.

So there are still some things which Malaysia Tidak Boleh & Tidak Ada.

Ayaka's voice is distinctively different. You will always know it's her even though you've heard it once, blindfolded. She has the clarity, you can hear every rattle & hum of the engine behind the voice. Do not be fooled by her physical size, she's got POWER, even when her voice's down low on 1st gear.

Here she is with the single that made her famous - singing Jupiter based on Gustav Holst's The Planet Suite.

This is a one-shot studio live recording of her singing Ashita

I've always felt that her voice has the emotional depth that can hold any listener. This is another clip of her singing a duet with another Japanese guy. Don't look at the guy, just pay attention to her part. There's also another rendition of Jupiter towards the second-half of the clip.

Now, would you go back to techno music after this? I don't think so.

My friend Ah Seng say: Maybe techno-classical can lah.

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