Two years ago when Haiku Salut were releasing debut album Tricolore, they were describing themselves as “Baroque-Pop-Folktronic-Neo-Classical-Something-Or-Other”. As hard as it is to believe a band deliberately chose to describe themselves as folktronic, it sort of suited them with their mix of glitch and glockenspiel. Second album Etch And Etch Deep sees them working away at those hyphens, inventively blending their influences to create something new, something bigger.
They’ve built a world here, a landscape stretching out to form the dramatic plains of ‘Things Were Happening And They Were Strange’ and the juddering crescendos of ‘Skip To The End’. Opener ‘Bleak And Beautiful (All Things)’ shimmers like a millpond before someone catches her breath and we take the plunge. It’s impossible to describe without visual metaphors like the way light reflects of the surface of water, then two thirds of the way through it turns into a Balkan folk dance. ‘Hearts Not Parts’‘ blissed out, ambient vocals somehow find their way from chiming loops to an outro that Four Tet would be proud of. ‘Becauselessness’ is the sound of morning dew, the dawn chorus just in earshot as the sun rises over a city centre park. ‘You Dance A Particular Algorithm’ is probably the most appropriately named track, shifting between piano accordion and stuttering beats, wobbly whirrs of synth building to a perfect pop peak.
Haiku Salut are a restlessly creative band as anyone who has seen their lamp show will attest. A selection of vintage lamps flicker and pulse in time with the music as they switch between instruments, live sampling and building their sound. Last year they even published a book of haikus, Japanese Poems Steal Brains, as if to prove that just because they’re an instrumental band, doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. But all of this feels as if it’s been leading up to Etch And Etch Deep. It’s post-rock, post-folk, post-electronica, post-everything, but not in a nihilistic way, in a futuristic way. This is a staggeringly accomplished record, innovative yet traditional like a wicker man with laser eyes.