Initial impressions, that is so initial that you haven't heard the music yet, reveal a possible Japanese connection in the name Haiku Salut, as well as a French one, echoed in the album title 'Tricolore'. The artwork, well that could remind you of lots of things; Van Gogh maybe? It's as though the actual identity of the band (three girls from Derbyshire) is being deliberately kept hidden, or maybe it's simply not relevant and they'd rather we just got on with listening. The song titles are in keeping with this: 'Watanabe' is a common Japanese surname; there's a track named 'Los Elefantes' (Spanish) and one named 'Glockelbar' (Swedish). Being entirely instrumental only adds to the mystery, especially as the songs contain elements and instruments from many different cultures.
You could loosely describe 'Tricolore' as folktronica, baroque-pop or alt-folk, although none of these are a direct match for what is a truly unique collage of ideas. Haiku Salut say it best with "baroque-pop-folktronic-neo-classical-something-or-other", an unbelievably exact representation of their sound. Guessing what instruments are being used when is a challenge in itself, and we suspect a few found sounds have been incorporated into the musical stew. Some parts are straightforward; acoustic guitar, harmonica and organ of some kind make up the beginning of 'Sounds Like There's A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart' (?!), but the second half sounds like everything's been wired through a ZX Spectrum, before brass of some kind wraps things up. The story is similar for much of the rest.
Because this is such an imaginative album it deserves a listen, whatever your usual taste. The way they make piano and strange glitches mix with... whatever those other sounds are on 'Leaf Stricken' is excellent. If Four Tet is to folktronica what Orbital were to 90s dance music, then Haikut Salut are Squarepusher; inventing new techniques, pushing new ideas and bravely pressing ahead with a album they know won't gain them millions of sales. That's not the point. Single 'Los Elefantes' is French accordion but with an eastern flavour mixed in; 'Six Impossible Things' follows suit. Elsewhere there are snippets and bits and bobs and experiments and innovations and a little madness. It's playful and autumnal, sometimes traditional and maybe even pioneering at times, but you could never describe this wonderful journey of sound a boring one.
Haiku Salut's website
Catch them live:
March 23 – The Firebug, Leicester
March 28 - Buffalo Bar, London
April 13 – Deda, Derby
April 27 - Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham
May 4 - Oddbox Weekender, London
May 5 - Sounds From The Other City, Manchester