Wow — Although this is an abridged arrangement, it’s still quite beautiful and unique and shows how a work like Stairway can be re-imagined cross-culturally. Played entirely on traditional Japanese instruments you get a mashup of Stairway fused with the idiosyncratic plectrum style of the Japanese Koto and haunting wind driven tones of the Japanese Shakuhachi flute. Particularly striking is the flute break in the guitar solo section which is unlike anything I would have ever expected to hear but has a drama to it that is undeniably rock ‘n roll.
I really wish they would have presented the song in full so we could appreciate all the crescendos and get lost in the meditative qualities of the song as it builds as the edits in the arrangement pull me out of the experience of it. (Don’t be scared of asking for an 8 minute commitment to listen from your audience – if you can do Stairway justice we’ll listen with open ears and arms.).
Another section that gave me a little thrill was the double time arpeggiation section that Jimmy does just before the fanfare orchestration. Hearing the one koto player plucking those strings in double-time was a real treat.
Given our familiarity with the Japanese love and reverence for Zeppelin (and Stairway in particular) it’s no surprise they do Stairway a great justice here – but they also do it a great honour. Presenting such an iconic Western piece of music with their traditional Japanese instruments must have riled up some cultural purists so we are really lucky to have it.