It’s not just a record of technical cleverness though. ‘Enlist’ is an early standout, a repeating piano phrase serving as a beacon in the otherwise austere ambience. The central triple header of‘Traction’, ‘Chopping Wood Arrive’ and ‘Hide’ would be a standout triplet on any ambient album you cared to listen to this year, with ‘Traction’‘s stuttering beats and throbbing synths, ‘Chopping Wood Arrive’‘s shimmering glow and ‘Hide’ bringing an almost techno rhythm. ‘Obstruction’ wouldn’t be out of place on an early Oneohtrix Point Never record. ‘Going Back’ is probably the most blissed-out moment, growing from jagged arpeggios into floating choral synths and plucked guitar.
While the longer tracks catch the ear on first listen, as ideas are allowed to develop and blossom into a fuller sounding track, it’s the shorter pieces that give The General its distinct character. The flickering, barely there, seconds-long likes of ‘Chattanooga’, ‘Deserters’ and ‘The Crash’, not to mention the way the shimmering ‘Engine’ makes a reappearance as ‘Engine Again’ towards the end of the record really flesh the album out, giving life to the greater whole and to Keaton’s achievement beyond the screen. This isn’t just a great soundtrack, it’s an incredible ambient album to get lost in time and time again. Where Haiku Salut go from here is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for certain: The General is an essential entry in their discography and not to be overlooked.
The General is out now on Secret Name.