Folktronica – oxymoron or budding art form? Although far from new to ours ears, the idea of electro-acoustic music is still maverick enough to set a few Arran sweaters itching. The standard hoisted by Tunng and others gathers more and more support, with established names such as Lau and King Creosote developing the form. Another shining light among these names is Haiku Salut. The Derbyshire trio are about to embark on a tour of interesting spaces with Lau and also release their singularly earnest and engaging debut album Tricolore on November 18th.
Haiku Salut (Gemma Barkerwood, Louise Croft and Sophie Barkerwood) draw inspiration from many quarters; like-minded artists, film scores and Japanese impressionistic literature all make a contribution. The sound that these sources inspire, however, belongs emphatically to Haiku Salut. The gently jarring repetitions of the opening electronic overture Say It, give way to the soft acoustics of a slightly impatient guitar dancing with piano and accordion in the beautifully entitled Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart. And it feels very much like just that. As the electronic chords and repetitions come into play and the wee yellow guy starts roaming around your consciousness, it feels like Three Cane Whale discovered 8 bit gaming and they strolled off into the woods together.
Leaf Stricken delivers an audio/visual feast of swirling autumn colours, and in a perfect example of the contrasts that are one of the many delights of this album, Six Impossible Things opens as a summery stroll on strings, with detuned bass notes blundering around like a drunken bumble bee until the stroll moves on to a bandstand in the park. The piano / accordion mix of Los Elefants is equally evocative as it spins towards its electronic conclusion.
Other memorable highlights include Lonesome George (Orwell, There’s No-One Like), in which a very continental sounding George Orwell sits somewhere along the French / Spanish border, secretly stock-piling tension and drama. And although this album should never be regarded as a collection of highlights (take it in as a whole – you won’t regret it) Train Tracks For Wheezy (Featuring A Little Orchestra) stands just that little bit more proud; a dreamy opening with a bass so laid back it’s horizontal and Cinematic simplicity in irresistible monochrome bursting into blazing Technicolor, for a final sixty seconds that will fill your heart.
Not everything here is, on the surface, as complex. Glockelbar is a gentle and hypnotic two minute glockenspiel exploration that delivers far more in terms of texture than is immediately apparent. The closing response to the opening track, No, You Say It, takes up the theme and plays around some, closing the album on an emphatically electronic note.
As we mentioned last month, Haiku Salut have also contributed to the Lau – Remixed collection, with a striking and habit-forming remix of Race The Loser’s Torsa. In performance the band are mesmerizing; winning their way to a place on the Green Man Rising stage at the Green Man festival, Haiku Salut provided a spell-binding performance, and their acclaimed Lamp Show has been delighting London audiences. Lau fans who are lucky enough to catch them on tour over the coming month will find Haiku Salut a perfectly chosen counterpoint, and fans of Haiku Salut will no doubt be pleased to catch Lau live too.
Far from avoiding attaching a label to their music, Haiku Salut describe themselves as Baroque-Pop-Folktronic-Neo-Classical-Something-Or-Other. Well, it’s good to find your niche. On the face of it we have an album of folktronica, but Tricolore can’t be taken at face value. Far more than syncopated repetition of 8 bit beeps and crunches, there are depths of colour and emotion here to set the imagination wandering (or wondering) and the spine tingling. This is an absolute gem of an album.
Review by: Neil McFadyen
When “Tricolore” was originally released on March 25, HMV was still facing an uncertain future and so the album was only stocked by independent stores. Now that HMV is more secure, “Tricolore” will be receiving the full national release it deserves. The re-release coincides with the band’s two week tour of churches, art centres and “interesting spaces”, as support to Lau (dates below).
Lamp Show: Performing – No, You Say It
Tour Dates (supporting Lau)
Nov 12 Victoria Halls, Saltaire
Nov 13 Central Methodist Hall, Manchester
Nov 14 All Saints Church, Pocklington
Nov 15 The Drill Hall, Lincoln
Nov 16 Blackheath Halls (Great Hall), London
Nov 17 Assembly Rooms, Ludlow
Nov 19 Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa
Nov 20 Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury
Nov 21 De La Warr Pavilion,Bexhill-On-Sea
Nov 22 St Mary’s Arts Centre, Sandwich
Nov 23 The Electric Palace, Bridport
Nov 24 St John The Evangelist Church, Lancaster
Tricolore is re-released on November 18th
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