※The following text was posted on the special purchasers' website for RAINBOW
(December 2002).


●Introduction

My decision to contribute to this special website came after considering various ways to give listeners a better view to ayumi hamasaki's work. My intention was to help listeners appreciate ayu's latest album RAINBOW from new angles, and to give them an avenue for connecting with her recording work in ways that magazine articles cannot provide. From these standpoints, I decided that writing this article would be the best way of assisting people who have actually purchased RAINBOW to build a heart-to-heart relationship with this album. As a Production Director, it is not normally my job to try to express my thoughts in this way. However, with RAINBOW, I had an intensifying desire to communicate to users the various feelings that this work aroused within me, and I realized that this website offered the perfect means to do so.What impressed me most during the production of RAINBOW (including the singles) was the many number of times-even more so than usual-that ayu's ideas gave the songs astonishing power and made them shine. I believe that specific examples of this can be seen in the song notes. The album is truly a demonstration that both ayumi hamasaki the artist and ayumi hamasaki the creator have become more sophisticated, and that she is investing this sophistication into her work. It is also illustrated by an incident that occurred during early recording of the album songs. As is usual, the lyrics were finally completed after careful scrutiny that continued right up to the moment of actual vocal recording; however, this time, when I looked at the lyrics, I couldn't believe what I saw. They were in English! I fired off a torrent of questions, to which ayu simply replied in her usual manner, "Well, I think they're about done." It was then that I realized that she was already elevating her career by taking the "ayumi hamasaki message" beyond the Japanese market to the world. Compared to her other albums, ayu decided on the title RAINBOW quite quickly. Perhaps this was because she had always known in her heart that she would make this album one day. An encapsulation of this enthusiasm, RAINBOW is a masterpiece into which ayu has wholeheartedly invested her entire range of resources as an artist. I hope that you will listen to it and let it become a part of you.

Yasuyuki Tomita Production Director Avex


track00
RAINBOW


We received this tune early in the project from D・A・I, who suggested that we use it as an instrumental for recording of the album. As soon as she heard it, ayu loved its gently flowing melody as something that could symbolize the album, so we moved forward with discussions toward its actual recording. It should be noted that this tune is not included on the CD itself, but can be heard by people who bought the CD via the Internet. This entirely unique approach was suggested and decided upon by ayu and the staff.

From ayu
Although I haven't put any words to it yet, I think it's a very beautiful tune.


track01
「everlasting dream」


This instrumental starts off the CD.
CMJK, who composed and arranged this piece, said this about everlasting dream: "No rain, no rainbow … If it doesn't rain (heartache), you won't see a rainbow (beauty and happiness)." With a sound that integrates the nuances of a tune imagined by ayu with the above concept, this track sets the tone for the album's introduction. The lightly spoken words that sound like an adult's whisperings also let the listener know that the CD's story is about to begin.

From ayu
Of all the various instrumentals on the album, I thought this one was the "most like an actual song." I felt like I wanted to sing as soon as I heard it. Words just seemed to come to me naturally.



track02
「WE WISH」


This track starts off the main portion of the disk. It is an attacking up-tempo number that was arranged by HΛL.
Its sound takes an approach that is quite unique. And the lyrics jump right out to drive home ayu's message. New devices in the sound-such as the counter-harmony "we wish" that can be heard in the background during the bridge-pop up at strategic points. It suggests to the listener that this new album is going to do things differently

From ayu
WE WISH is a very strong song. And not just the lyrics and the melody-the vocals are also stronger and rougher than usual. It's probably fair to say that it's not a track that plays nice with words.



track03
「Real me」


Although, ordinarily, this kind of song would probably be wrapped in an R&B feel, ayu's intention was to avoid this temptation. Because of this, Real me is entirely immersed in an approach that is based on the power of her ideas and lyrics, and the track is able to express them through belief in the ability to truly create "ayumi hamasaki's world." Taking "woman" as its theme, ayu's message here is not to say that "women are women," but to suggest that women, as human beings, must sometimes fight and be strong. It is worth viewing the promotional video clip to see the dance that ayu performs with the cast.

From ayu
Although I'm really not the type that likes to lay it on thick in the chorus, the chorus of Real me seems to come pounding in from a special world. So, it took a bit longer than usual to complete the track, but I was very impressed with the result.



Track04
「Free & Easy」


This track is the result of a sudden inspiration ayu and the producer had at an actual magazine photo shoot that they were attending while considering a cover tie-up with Free & Easy magazine.
This track, which starts off the 2002 ayumi hamasaki story, is notable for its grand gothic arrangement by HΛL. (In actuality, many arrangers helped out on this project. However, it was HΛL, the last arranger we approached, whose vision came closest to what we wanted [despite a poor explanation on our part]). The promotional video clip is also done in a grand scale, reflecting the message of the song.

From ayu
In Free & Easy, I wrote what I am feeling at the moment. In other words, "I want to be a person who lives by taking responsibility for my own freedom," and "I want to be a person for whom these words are perfectly applicable." But, when it came to recording, because I already had a nearly complete picture of "what I wanted to say," it was more difficult than usual to create a melody that would fit with the message of the lyrics.



track05
「Heartplace」


This is a medium-tempo track that has a stronger rock element than most Hamasaki songs.
Of all the songs on the album's recording schedule, this one was finished the earliest. The first arrangement had a strong "straight rock" feel, and this was shaped into an ayu song through various stages of trial and error. What finally settled everything was a dynamic strings-based arrangement by Ken Shima, who we had used in the arrangement of the single Voyage. By adding reverberating English lyrics to the previously mentioned bridge, we succeeded in presenting a new rock-type song in the ayumi hamasaki style.

From ayu
Recording usually involves getting into the vocal booth and then singing(!) a song from start to finish. But for this song, I went into the booth, sang a little bit, came out, thought about the song, went back into the booth, sang a little bit more, came out, listened... It was a different work process than usual. So, in that sense, it's a very memorable track.



track06
「Over」


This is a medium-slow track that is marked by the kind of melancholy for which ayu is known.
As Ayu's arrangement order sent to HΛL was very clear, the first version was very close to being perfect. When I think about it now, the moment we recorded the vocals-when we matched the melancholic tones created by HΛL to the completed lyrics-went more smoothly than just about any other song on the album. Even for just the English words "it is over," the feeling in her voice makes you forget that this is the first time she is attempting to use English lyrics.

From ayu
I locked myself in my hotel room to write the lyrics, but I just couldn't come up with the words for the B melody. I was really racking my brain. The bridge melody suddenly rises in a unique way, so I tried various ways of singing before I finally settled on the final form.



track07
「HANABI」


This track has the novelty yet extremely high level of maturity that's expected from an ayumi hamasaki song.
In terms of sound approach, engineering, and hard-hitting Japanese expression, this track presents ayu's view of the world. It is so deep in feeling that it's truly a song that only ayumi hamasaki could complete. It is reminiscent of the UK trip-hop/dub sound yet has a somewhat nostalgic feeling. I have the sense that ayu was looking for expression that can move outside the domestic market when she created this song.

From ayu
When I was writing the three 「H」 songs, I wanted to wrap up with a song that expressed the idea of "a summer that ends in deep sadness." What resulted was HANABI.



track08
「taskinillusion」


This is an instrumental track that pulls the listener into the second section of the album.
On taskinillusion, ayu's vocal melody that appears midway through the track has a slightly different twist than that of Track 1. It dramatically announces the beginning of the album's middle segment. On a trivial note, taskinillusion is an" illusion that was created by its arranger, tasuku"! (Laughter)
Some time ago, a live tour stage manager was inquiring about the titles on the album I am…, and he asked with a straight face, "What does 'taskinlude' mean?" To this we answered, "It's an interlude by tasuku―it's a 'taskinlude'!" So the title of this track is a playful expression of ayu's love for tasuku.


From ayu
Although this album feels very integrated in a sense, it really has an unsettled undertone. I was looking for something in the middle that would express this feeling of unsettledness, and just then the perfect thing came along. I thought "this is magic!" And that's why it's an illusion. (Laughs)



track09
「everywhere nowhere」


This is an extremely unique up-tempo track that suddenly begins with a reading of English lyrics.
The track features an uncategorizable and exotic world created by pop, who composed the tune, that was transformed into its final form by ayu. This world was then matched to an arrangement by CMJK. The track is unique in its use of various changing tones that appear from scene to scene. Musically, it is in many respects reminiscent of the 80s, when much experimentation took place, and all of the professionals involved in this track demonstrate their own particular sensibilities based on such musical experimentation. This includes the guitar playing of BERA. The phrase kigoka suru no kana (shall I encode it?) that is heard in the lyrics strikes me as a message that comes from ayu's own philosophical views.

From ayu
This tune was composed by pop, who plays the keyboards behind me. I decided to include it in my album the moment I heard it for the first time. I thought it presented a good image-kind of surreal but at the same time very fresh-so I really liked it. The lyrics end in the past tense. I thought the past tense would suggest the feeling that what had happened is over, and it's time to look toward the future.



track10
「July 1st」


For some reason, the tracks that ayu releases during the summer months always have a strong summery feel, even though no special efforts are made to achieve this. This time, July 1st is such a track.
The track has a very uplifting mood that is produced not only by the arrangement but also the clear playing of guitarist Susumu Nishikawa. I asked ayu what she thought about adding some scratching by DJ cool-K to the track, and she said, "I like it, but let's have it build up more toward the end of the song." In this way, ayu took an active role in direction that enhanced the track's creativity.

From ayu
The lyrics to July 1st are cheerful, and the melody has some spots that are subdued and others that come out and grab you.
This was the first time I had ever written a song from this viewpoint, and I even surprised myself! (Laughs)




track11
「Dolls」


This is a large-scale, medium-tempo track that was inspired when ayu came into contact with Dolls, a film by Takeshi Kitano, just as album recording was beginning. Although the song itself existed before this meeting, ayu immediately set to reassembling it into its final form: A mature song that carries a strong impact. Her performance in the chorus, which crescendos during the latter half of the track, is very dramatic, and can be likened to a blossoming flower.

From ayu
When I listened to the completed tune, I pictured a painting that depicts blooming flowers that fill the landscape. From this, I came up with "kirei-na hana wo sakasemasho" (let us make the flowers bloom), which I used as a starting point to develop the lyrics. The phrase -masho (let us) appears repeatedly because I wanted to create a pretty tune and to emphasize the delicate images that are inherent to the Japanese language.



track12
「neverending dream」


Pressed by an extremely tight schedule, the arrangement team moved forward with album production by utilizing long associations developed from previous projects. Among the various products that each member of the team produced is this instrumental by HΛL, which serves to reinforce the album concept.
The many instrumental sounds that were weaved together by these arrangers-including this track-are extremely significant parts of the album. When the demo was played, almost the entire product staff, including ayu, agreed that this is the spot in the album where this track should be.


From ayu
When I listened to the completed tune, I pictured a painting that depicts blooming flowers that fill the landscape. From this, I came up with "kirei-na hana wo sakasemasho" (let us make the flowers bloom), which I used as a starting point to develop the lyrics. The phrase -masho (let us) appears repeatedly because I wanted to create a pretty tune and to emphasize the delicate images that are inherent to the Japanese language.



track13
「Voyage」


For each year of her career, ayumi hamasaki has created a song that is representative of that year. Voyage is a masterpiece that, by her own account as well as others', is the song for 2002.
This song has been acclaimed by creators and industry personnel in a way that goes beyond the praise of fans. The person responsible for focusing the track precisely on the musical image that ayu desired was the arranger, Ken Shima. Starting with a basic foundation that lays the groundwork for a pop song, to which a beautiful string line and a gospel-style chorus provided by African-American singers are added, the completed track is truly majestic.

From ayu
D・A・I and I had the melody, and I had the lyrics and vocals, but there was just something missing. That's when Ken Shima's arrangement came into the picture. When I heard the finished product, I realized the song had reached amazing heights that I could not have achieved.



track14
「Close to you」


Looking back, I realized that, even though many songs are typically released at the end of the year, few are clearly Christmas-style songs. Working together, ayu and I finished this track with the intention of bringing out a stronger Christmas flavor.
This was the last track completed in the album's tight production schedule. In truth, the song did not have much connection with Christmas in its earlier form, as it was arranged in a way that would punctuate the album at its end. However, while working on other songs, the idea of making it a song for the Christmas season came to mind. This led to its being almost completely reworked from scratch.
The arranger was Seiji Kameda, a person who was being charged with arranging an original song for the first time. The ayumi hamasaki feeling that he pictured in his mind blended well with his own original sound approach, and the song became a good device for closing out the last half of the album. The fact that the song is the only one on the album that does not have a harmony sung by ayu, and instead features a grand choir-like chorus (an idea suggested by ayu), makes this track all the more impressive.

From ayu
Close to you is Christmas song.for me Or, rather, it's what resulted when I attempted to infuse my own sense of Christmas into a song. (Laughs) It did occur to me that perhaps I should be more aggressive in making the song more Christmassy. But I thought it was more important to have the whole song suggest the season than to have my words say so directly, and I didn't want to waver from this approach.



track15
「independent+」


At an early stage of the project, there was talk of doing a baseball theme song. Quite honestly, I was concerned about whether we could really pull off a song with such a focused subject. But D・A・I came up with a tune that came extremely close to the concept, and ayu courageously said, "C'mon, let's give this tune a try." As a result, this very nice track was born.
The word "rock" cannot completely describe what the highly skilled work of tasuku, the arranger of this track, produced. Together with ayu, I feel he created an entirely new sound approach.
Having an audience appear in the track was also ayu's idea. The managers went to Tokyo Dome to buy G Team megaphones, and he recorded with a chorus and yelling team made up of the Hamo Hamo Boys. Their cheering and singing (?) raises the tension of the song even further.
Moreover, it is the "secret track" that is always a feature of Hamasaki albums, and is already appearing as the ending song of ayu's regular TV program ayu ready?
At 166 beats per minute, it is the fastest song that ayu has ever recorded! As is usual for vocals that are recorded in a live session, we used a take sung together by ayu and the Hamo Hamo Boys & Girls in a large booth. I'm told that it's easy for the listener to imagine the fun and rowdy atmosphere in the studio just by listening to the resulting sound.
And ayu also had an extraordinary idea when it came to recording this song on CD. Just before mastering was to begin, she said, "Even though it's a secret track, wouldn't it be OK for it to be tied to the listed song? And, what would happen if we added the clapping and laughing of independent to the end?" We rushed to set up the track as she asked, and it surprised us by sounding quite cool. Thus, the decision was made to put it on the CD. So, even up to the very end, a lot of detailed work went into this track.

From ayu
Well, what I should say about it… It's based on independent but it's longer. The "+" is kind of like a fun puzzle that you'll understand when you hear it. (Laughs) I wonder if you'll get it if you listen to the ending song of ayu ready? In "+," the Hamo Hamo Boys & Girls, tasuku, the two managers and the gang leader, Natsuki (persons who are always by my side), and my friends participated in the chorus. I wonder if you can tell who is who.




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