Despite a name that conjures notions of drippy indie with paltry vocals low in the mix, Haiku Salut made quite a mark with their 2013 release, 'Tricolore', their fidgety instrumental electronic folk capturing the hearts of all who were willing to listen. It was a beautiful debut, full of promise but ever so slightly insubstantial. It felt like a strong breeze might be the end of them. In the two years since, the screws have been tightened and a real depth has been found.
If their first outing was hard to label, then what hope the humble scribe trying to pin this one down with mere words? At times, it's closest to being post-rock with far more high notes and a wide-eyed sense of wonder. But the points of contextualising comparison keep on coming.
Modern classical electronic adventurer Nils Frahm's capacity for conjuring majestic beauty from complexity seems to be a skill that Haiku Salut share, with digital burbles and numerous effects combining with their core, folksier instruments to produce fascinating soundscapes that reveal something different each time around. It is this grand ambition that sets the band's second set apart from that intriguing debut. Where once the band may have occasionally caught your ear, these songs command attention throughout.
'Things Were Happening And They Were Strange' neatly demonstrates this, with wordless vocal cries soaring out of twitching, claustrophobic drums before giving way to a shimmering, bleepy melody. Notes hang in the air with the same breath-taking sense of space so memorably captured in King Creosote and Jon Hopkins' collaborative album, 'Diamond Mine'. By carving out its own microclimate, 'Etch And Etch Deep' ensures that it works best in one sitting.
The first record drew comparisons with Beirut as a result of the skittering drums beneath euphoric washes of sound, a characteristic which is still present here, most notably on 'Bleak And Beautiful (All Things)'. However, things aren't quite so simple this time, with 'Skip To The End' possessing a crescendo rather endearingly like the aforementioned band satisfying a commission to soundtrack a Nineties video game.
The album's closer, 'Foreign Pollen', offers an entirely apt means of rounding things off, executing the quiet/loud switch masterfully and delivering a stirring conclusion to a rousing return. This simple but beautiful finale serves as a neat summary of the different gears herein and ensures that their enhanced sound truly leaves its mark.
Words: Gareth James
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