Baroque-Pop-Folktronic-Neo-Classical sounds like the jammed-together genre labels a band would stick on its MySpace more in the interest of smart-assery than for any helpfully descriptive purpose. That’s why the first major revelation about U.K. trio Haiku Salut – the group that claims that heap of syllables – is that who they are couldn’t be any further off from a smug chuckle.
For their debut instrumental album Tricolore, Haiku Salut weave together a musical landscape where glitchy bits of electronica give way to Spanish guitars and glockenspiels. Instead of the electronic portions sounding cold or out of place in comparison with so many warm, stringed instruments and piano keys, they have a roundness of their own as if plucked from a little kid’s quirky computer game. It’s partly the depth created in the contrast between those elements that makes the album feel like a place where the listener can walk around for a while. “Leaf Stricken” is one of the best examples of that, with skittering electronics underneath laid back fingerpicking. The nervous energy of the former takes the song well past a vibe that’s merely pleasant. In that vein, “ll_ Lonesome George (Or Well, There’s No-one Like) _ll” takes a whimsical run at an out-of-control Merry Go Round style waltz.
While a word like “twee” occasionally threatens to overpower Tricolore’s little world, the solidly built layers of a song like “Train Tracks for Wheezy” shift focus to craftsmanship. It isn’t cute confection, it’s an amalgam of sounds that make more sense together than you might expect, much like the influences the band lists in interviews. They’ll name off French cinema and Japanese filmmakers, along with musicians like Yann Tiersen and mÃºm. Tricolore owes much to the latter two – Tiersen’s Musette-heavy Amelie score in particular, but still feels like a strong synthesis of loved-things, digested and built into a space of its own.
Essential Tracks: “Leaf Stricken”, “Train Tracks for Wheezy”