In The Rainbow
1984 - the year ReR released an album by an unknown group from Japan
called After Dinner - not many Japanese musicians were known in the
western world. Hence, the curiosity factor. But After Dinner - the record,
which assembled materials that had been released in Japan not long before
- proved to be much more than a novelty item: the melodies were fresh,
many different genres were visited, with no danger of pastiche nor of
being "generic"; there was a lot of intelligent studio work;
and Haco's versatile voice and her songs. After some European tours
and a second album - Paradise Of Replica ('89), more direct and immediate
than its predecessor - the group split. (Both albums have been re-released
with additional material, the first one now being titled Editions.)
had a lot of expectations about Haco's first solo CD (Haco, 1995), but
in the end I didn't like it a lot: some rhythmic solutions I regarded
as impersonal, while for the most part the new songs didn't seem to
improve on what she had done before. And when her second solo CD (Happiness
Proof, 1999) came out I decided to pass.
when I prepared myself to listen to Ash In The Rainbow - Haco's new
collaborative effort with cello player and multi instrumentalist Hiromichi
Sakamoto - I didn't know what to expect, nor could I be suspected of
partiality. I'm pretty glad I can say that the new CD is really excellent.
From what I understand (the CD cover doesn't say much, and the informations
I've found on the Web are a bit sketchy) in 2001 Haco listened to Zero-shiki,
Hiromichi Sakamoto's 1999 solo album. Taking that record as a starting
point, she proceeded to compose some new melodies, lyrics and vocal
parts, then she did a lot of cut & paste computer work. Having never
listened to the original album I can't say more.
In The Rainbow is a beautiful and not at all difficult album; extremely
well thought-out, very clear, totally uncluttered, it's one of those
albums one is afraid of ruining while trying to describe it. Some
tracks appear to inhabit a fresh, almost "neoclassical" dimension
(listen to Ash In The Rainbow and Zero Hills - and check Drunken Strings,
with its treatment of the beautiful melodic phrase that starts the latter),
while others (Moonfish Dance, Airhead, Channeling) have a more "modern"
atmosphere, with a lot of treated vocals. The closing track - Deep Sky
- made me and the vocoder friends again, the effect being such an integral
part of the track's poetic mood. Hot Road, with its multiple vocals
and its agitated snare drum, is the only track where I found big traces
of After Dinner.
Mari, who's very good on various percussive instruments, is the only
other member outside the duo. Hiromichi Sakamoto plays the cello both
in soft and scratchy ways, and employs other instruments such as the
pianica (?) and the musical box. Haco's sound design offers very good
results, but it's her impressive compositional intelligence that makes
those complex vocal parts sound natural and simple.
© Beppe Colli 2003
CloudsandClocks.net | March 15, 2003