the most informative of bands, the enigmatic Haiku
on classy French label Parametric
eschew such things as inlay cards, track names, web sites, personnel info
and production dates, in favour of a surgically-clean aesthetic, manifesting
itself in the form of nine numbered tunes and a plainly-labelled steel
box for the CD. I was surprised to find the minimalism suggested in the
packaging and graphic design was not reflected in the music, although
these things are somewhat subjective; but listen to this CD next to the
likes of COH
and it begins to sound positively busy.
puts me in mind of Plaid
or early Autechre,
and I must admit it took a few listens before it began to grow on me.
To begin with it seemed like we've heard all this before, and names like
Warp and Rephlex
are no longer on everyone's lips the way they were a few years ago, but
there is a depth here and an unexpected warmth behind the sterile veneer,
and some of the more upbeat tracks (2, 6 and 9 in particular) proved surreptitiously
catchy. Everything fits together nicely; bleepy melodies play off each
other while pads wash dreamily over percussion patterns that almost sound
like Japanese or Indian drums, although the palette of sounds used across
the album is somewhat conservative, and the ebb and flow of musical tension
is a tad gentler than I'd have liked.
Also included is a multimedia folder containing a video for track 7 consisting
of slow pans over electron micrographs of very small objects, and a much
crunchier mp3 remix of track 2, held together by a DVD-like .MOV-based
interface that unfortunately didn't work on my Windows XP machine, spoiling
the seamless veneer. The remix explores some of the highly granulated,
bit-crushed and time-stretched sounds that are so firmly en vogue
in the electronica scene at the moment and which are conspicuously absent
from the album proper - refreshingly so, in a way, since I can't help
feeling that in a few years' time they'll sound overused and very turn-of-the-century.
There is something at once timeless and anachronistic about Haiku,
as perhaps is befitting for a band named after an art form that has remained
unchanged for hundreds of years.