Sound Horizon – Moira

Sound Horizon – Moira – 4.5/5

With this I move onto the second part of albums that I’ve been privately obsessing with struggling to find the time to write my thoughts on them, and another foray into modern Japanese composers. Far from the electronic influence of ‘Kashiwa Daisuke,’ instead it is ‘Revo’ leading the composition here with perhaps more humbling origins. Starting out writing compositions based on Doujin music, he soon moved into writing his own material to complement the diverse world he has fabricated for his creations, gradually accruing interest from other singers and musicians until this: his most recent release and sixth exploring his fantasy world. No longer with need for electronic instruments, his cast more than capable of performing the multi-layered orchestral harmonies and – most notably – an all star cast of vocalists, many of which with their own moderately successful solo careers.

The concept itself shows no slack either, the songs weaving their own integrated plot lines filled with of fun-loving Russian billionaires, noble princes, animal overseers, elemental rulers, devious destiny weavers and secretive keepers of times; ancient curses, prophecies and legends of forbidden lust and war. I may have difficulty following much of it but the variety of tones presented within the music shows few boundaries, making heavy use of the voice to create the atmosphere. Anyone familiar with Japanese music may well be anxious at this point, as it’s hardly a country renowned for its vocalists, which just serves to make this discovery all the more unexpected. More than just capable, the frequent soprano and mezzo-soprano ranges utilised to great effect with careful use of harmonisation for the choral passages, and more solo performances than you’d think possible to fit into a single release.

Then there are the backing musicians; with no shortage of delicate piano lines, epic violin melodies and mournful acoustic guitars forming much of the song’s structure and additional work from jazzy saxophones, accordions, flutes and hard hitting electric guitars. Never worked into the composition so as to be the focus (outside of the solos) but always producing something interesting, whether that be grandiose classical lines, boisterous folk, or a more hard hitting orchestral rock style, fluidly shifting between tracks. Many of the lines performed are simplistic in their nature, but composed in a specific style and seamlessly integrated into the performance to provide its strength.

I initially intended to review the entire performance until not only did I realise its more than four hour run time, but the fact some was missing from my collection. Despite that, on my continued listening I noticed the marked improvement with each coming release; the quality of the compositions and the performances improving with the new musicians becoming involved, new ideas slowly becoming integrated to his current abilities which only asks of what the next release will bring. This is epic beyond the normal usage of the term, a number of contributing musicians to compete with ‘Ayreon,’ and even he never succeeded in getting them to perform it in a live musical setting. Shocked at how poorly known this artist is, this should be required listening for anyone who enjoys the sound of the human voice as rarely have a gathering of so many capable vocalists performed together.

Highlights: Track 1, Track 2, Track 7, Track 11

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Translated lyrics can be found here