HAÏKU: SYNTHESE
CD: Parametric 0.14q [2004]


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Not 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 or Disinformation and it begins to sound positively busy.

Haiku's sound 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.


ABC

[Haïku] / [Parametric]

Direct Link: http://www.auralpressure.com/review/h/haiku_synthese.html