reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Derbyshire trio Haiku Salut relocate outdoors for this, their fifth album, which is in their words ‘an exploration of sound in relation to memory’. To fuel the latter they blend electronics and field recordings taken from a variety of sources, at all times seeking a personal touch or a story behind. The notes in the CD booklet document their findings, which range from natural sources to the strains of a ghostly piano in a large abandoned house, somewhere near Frankfurt.
What’s the music like?
Strange and captivating. Beginning with birdsong, Wide Awake is the ideal piece of music with which to start your day, soft strings and distant piano stretching the eardrums pleasantly. The mood changes with Entering, where a cold shiver runs through the arpeggios on the upper register of the ghostly piano. Gradually a mournful air descends on the instrument as it tolls slowly, beautifully played by band member Sophie Barkerwood.
A simpler, calmer piano informs the restful Trespass, while the tones are softer but the musical key remains the same for We Need These Beams, where a gently oscillating loop is gradually taken over by eerie displacement from the electronics. The sounds become increasingly wooden as the track dissolves.
I Dreamed I Was Awake For A Very Long Time is a lovely piece, a combination of a clipped piano phrase and stately chords over a steady, chugging beat. It really is a wonder, and is complemented by the wide open vista of How The Day Starts.
There are less field recordings evident for the friendly chatter of All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, an older track, but they come to the fore in the reassuring balm of Try Again And Again And Again, full of subtle positivity, and the closing All Clear, which brings back birdsong and strings akin to the start of the album.
Does it all work?
Yes, especially on headphones. Closer listening reveals the different layers and perspectives of the field recording, which is matched by the trio’s distinctive and carefully monitored musical complements. These are always pleasant to listen to at the very least but often take the breath subtly with moments of consonant beauty. There is, however, a dark undertone running through some of the memories, a shadow that once applied is hard to remove.
Is it recommended?
Yes. Another excellent set from one of our electronic musical treasures, who continue to fly just under the radar – when really they deserve to be held in much higher regard.