Someone, somewhere, once said something along the lines of: it’s always the quiet ones. And Haiku Salut, an instrumental trio from Derbyshire, certainly seem suitable for such categorisation. Wholly unassuming as they step onto a stage, words are at a premium. But then, something magic begins.
Theirs is a music rooted in cinema, in romance, in mystery. It’s earned comparisons to Yann Tiersen, particularly his soundtrack to Amélie. On the band’s own website (here), the limited information available suggests a sonic similarity to early múm and Swedish electro-folk sorts Detektivbyrån. One could also throw Beirut and Efterklang into the mix, if we’re clutching for relatively populist parallels. The animated movies of Sylvain Chomet and Haruki Murakami novels have played their part in the band’s DNA, too.
Comprising Gemma and Sophie Barkerwood, alongside Louise Croft, Haiku Salut’s two key releases to date – the EP ‘How We Got Along After The Yarn Bomb’ and March 2013’s well-received debut LP ‘Tricolore’ – have earned them a small but passionate following. And this summer, they will take another step towards wider recognition by opening the main stage at Green Man, as winners of the festival’s annual Rising competition (news, here).
“We were ecstatic, with a pinch of dread,” says the band via email, describing their feelings when they found out that Radio 1’s Huw Stephens had put them forward for the Rising final. “We didn’t expect to win, so one word to describe the experience would probably have to be, ‘pardon?’.”
Instrumental music that touches on influences from beyond the typical mainstream isn’t the most obviously likely sound to succeed in achieving mass appeal. But Haiku Salut’s elegant weaving of minimalist electro tones around warm, somewhat folk-like arrangements – continental of feel, but very British of build – does possess that impossible-to-define X factor. It impresses immediately, and repeated plays simply reinforce that initial admiration. The sense of something special manifests with ease.
“When we started writing music together, we never actively said there would be no vocals,” they say, of the band’s present palette. “We wrote the music and it worked that way. The songs were complete the way they were. It’s funny, because some people think we’ve forgotten to sing!
“We’re not limiting ourselves to instrumental music though – there’s room for expansion if an idea takes us that way. With regards to perception of the songs, one of the things that makes music and art great is that people interpret things differently. It would be boring otherwise!”
Clash gets the impression that Haiku Salut’s winning performance at Green Man Rising is just the beginning of bigger and better opportunities coming this trio’s way.
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What: A spellbinding mixture of Tarantino waltzes and alt-folk creativity, anchored by a developing identity likely to eclipse its influences
Get 3 Songs: ‘Los Elefantes’ (video above), ‘Glockelbar’, ‘Six Impossible Things’
Unique Fact: Despite social resistance, all members of Haiku Salut are avid precursors of ‘The Great 2013 Bumbag Revival’.
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Words: Mike Diver
Haiku Salut play this summer's Green Man Festival - details and tickets here
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