Haco, former After Dinner frontwoman, and a beautiful and charismatic singer in avant-pop contexts (her forays in improvisation and lo-fi pop are less convincing) meets cellist Hiromichi Sakamoto of the Pascals. In fact, Ash in the Rainbow is a rewriting and re-recording of Sakamoto's 1999 solo album Zero Shiki. Haco has added lyrics, vocal melodies and electronics to his instrumental tunes to create a whole new work. Close in spirit to Haco's first solo CD (simply titled Haco), which also featured a close collaboration with a cellist (Tom Cora), this album attempts and succeeds in uniting the acoustic sound palette of Sakamoto -- cello, musical saw, pianica and toys -- and Haco's computer arrangements, including backward tracks, electronics, and processed vocals. The title track is an instant charmer: the lyrics ("I tried to catch/the rainbow that rose out/of the sprinkler mist") fit the musical saw theme like a glove, not to mention the reversed beatbox track and vibraphone (by Mari Era, who appears in a handful of tracks). Other highlights include "Zero Hills," "Hot Road" and the closer "Deep Sky," heartwarmingly tender in a strange way with its music box, pianica and vocoder vocals. Haco is still the queen of intelligent Japanese pop and Ash in the Rainbow provides another reason to fall in love with her, again. And if you haven't heard the Pascals yet, you will feel a strong urge to do so.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture