Ali Project

Keikan Shijin

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Ali Project's signature mix of European classical music and modern progressive rock (including techno) trends has pushed them to the forefront of theme producers for anime series work. Keikan Shijin, released at the end of 2008, provides a nice overview of some of their more recent work in the field. The album primarily collects recent themes (and B-sides of those themes when released as singles), but also holds a few additional surprises along the way. The album opens in an aggressive fashion, with pounding drumbeats and synthesizers fighting for each note with vocalist Arika Takarano. The song also provides the first glimpse of one of Ali Project's best techniques -- a frenetic cascading delivery of notes that drops from surprising heights to bass regions while working a parallel melodic line with the instrumentation. As the album progresses, other aspects are brought to the forefront. "Aragawa" takes on a more industrial format, slowing down the tempo a bit and incorporating more mechanical sounds into the backdrop. "Yuukyou Seishuka" puts a greater emphasis on the classical upbringing of the group (particularly lead composer Mikiya Katakura). "Suigetsu Kyouka" takes that classical portion further, pairing a basic chorale-style piece with romantic piano and string arrangements. It's in cases like "Suigetsu Kyouka" that Takarano's real vocal abilities come out. That said, she takes the floor even more centrally in "God Diva," working through portions of the Queen of the Night's Aria from The Magic Flute. Though they may stray into deeper classical territory from time to time, there's always a move back to what forms the duo's bread and butter -- hyperfrenetic mixes of vocals and keyboards that bounce back and forth with unbridled energy and a healthy dose of innovative techniques -- cascading lines, parallel melodies, heavily counterpointed techno ideas. The album is forceful almost to a fault, but should be an instant hit for most curious listeners.