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Image © 2000\r\n\r\nPacific Garden (Japan)

Eri Sugai
Eri Sugai (Vocals)
Image © 2000
photo courtesy Narumi Arai

(09 December 2000) Kazumasa Yoshioka and Eri Sugai co-producedthe album Air (Pacific Garden (Japan) CHCB-30003), 2000) under the monniker Stella Mirus. Eri told us, "this is not an Asian-style CD, I madeit by order to make classic music by Mr Yoshioka. That is my style too."Enthusiasts of music by Miriam Stockley, Enya, Adiemus and Eri Sugai's album Mai (review) are certain toenjoy this album as well. One track is even reminscent of work bythe legendary Julee Cruise.

Eri Sugai has created stunning vocal arrangements thatperfectly compliment her crystalline voice for the album's nine tracks,of which five trace back to classical pieces by Bach, Satie, BeethovenFaure and Mussorgsky. We were instantly reminded of Adiemus, Enya andAnnie Haslam's Still Live from first listen. The album openswith it's title track "Air" derived from a piece by Bach. Gently flowingvocal layers are supported by light keyboard accompaniment.

Sugai's lovely interpretation of Erik Satie's classic "Gymnopedie No. 1" is almost entirely vocalise—the keyboard is especially light and perfectly compliments her voice. Annie Haslam's"Shine" on her 1985 Still Life is an interesting lyricalalternative and worth a journey for interested readers. Eri Sugai'svocal arrangement of "Sonata for Klavier Nr. 14" (Beethoven) is mostreminiscent of the whispy style of Julee Cruise and is accompaniedby Yoshioka's lovely keyboard-created string part.

By stark contrast to the classically derived numberson the album is a certain favourite to Enya's fans called "InYour Arms." String passages, vocal arrangements, keyboards andthe song structure itself creates an instant allusion to Enya'slatest album A Day Without Rain (review). "Aquamarin" is an atmospheric number, with both evocative vocals and rapid range traversing keyboard excursions, is equally reminiscent of Enya's work. The similarities are lovely and Eri Sugai's voice suits the style extremely well.

Eri Sugai's crystalline vocal ability shines throughin the a capella arrangements of "Stella." Harmony layers supportthe lead vocal layers and create a stunning accompaniment duringthe piece performed very much in the style created on her Maialbum. The style continues into the introduction to the artists'interpretation of Faure's "Siciliania-Pel Leas Et Melisande Op. 80."Keyboards join and support the lead and backing harmonies as thealmost epic length track develops. The album's final classical re-arrangement begins with a lovely multi-tracked a capella rendition of a portion of Mussogsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Midway through the track the vocals quickly pickup pace and additional layers and orchestral instantly recognisableas an Adiemus style emerge.

Styles blend in the album's closing epic "Silent Love."The keyboard arrangement is especially notable and full of classicallyderived allusions. Within the vocal passages, listeners will hear styles made famous by Enya, Julee Cruise, a bit of Adiemus and theblend will leave a lovely impression of this tremendous album. ClearlyEri Sugai is a stunning vocal talent and one that we hope to hear a lot more of in the coming months and years. There are four lovelysoundbites at the label's website (click on album cover to enter). Air is worth extensive exploration and worthy of a trans-Atlantic (or trans-Pacific) journey, it is certainly a must listen! Available exclusivelyas an import, order your copy today.

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