Haiku Salut - Tricolore - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Haiku Salut - Tricolore

by Daryl Worthington Rating:8 Release Date:2013-03-25

When listening to Tricolore, the debut album from Haiku Salut, the last place one imagines the band hailing from is a town in the Midlands. Like their name, this album somehow manages to sound simultaneously Japanese and European. Where some artists excel at creating work which absorbs and reacts with their surroundings, Haiku Salut sound like idyllic daydreams of the foreign and exotic.

The album's second track, 'Sounds Like There's a Pac Man Crunching Away at Your Heart', encapsulates so much of the album, as much with its title as with the song itself. Throughout the album, they use Casio synth sounds lifted from vintage computer games, a slightly kitsch warmth and a simple sense of melody one associates with the wordy lo-fi pop of bands such as The Pastels or Belle & Sebastian. The song demonstrates the three-piece's ability to take a basic melody and give it mileage through surrealistic, shifting instrumentation and dynamic changes. Opening with sombre acoustic picking, it promptly launches into 90s computer game soundtrack territory, before finishing with burbling synth, twinkling keys and morose brass.

The band wander through a plethora of ideas and genres. 'Leaf Stricken' takes in glitchy drum machine beats and sparse synth-pop melodies, whereas 'Los Elefantes' sounds positively Napoleonic, with its melodramatic piano chords, marching drums and crazed accordion. There seems to be a canon of adjectives which get used ad nauseum when describing instrumental music (transcendent, ethereal, soaring etc). However, there is only one word that could be used to describe the cumulative effect of these tracks through their odd ball instrumentation: The whole thing is just really lovely.

Tricolore is grounded in a sweetness which charms the listener more than anything else. Piano and guitar arpeggios often have a stumbling quality reminiscent of the J-pop orchestrations of Toni Kudo. It's this loveliness, the focus on melody above all else, which holds the songs together through their stylistic meanderings.

Tricolore's press release mentions the bands affection for Yann Tiersen. Appropriately, many of the songs do have a soundtrack quality, whether cinematic or videogame. 'Lonesome George (or Well, There's No One Like)' begins with lazy Spanish guitar before launching full-throttle into a Hispanic hoedown. One can imagine this as an accompaniment to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. Elsewhere, the summery piano of 'Rustic Sense of Migration' could be the score for a obscure French romantic comedy.

However, this quality can sometimes work against the album, in a way which is easiest to express with a cinematic metaphor. Like watching a foreign language film without any subtitles, although there is a great deal that can still be absorbed and enjoyed, there is also a sense one isn't getting the full experience. For all the wonderful music on display, the songs on the album sometimes feel they are missing something, a sense of narrative almost, to link all of the music together instead of them just being isolated interludes.

As mentioned above, Haiku Salut have created something genuinely lovely with Tricolore, with sweet melodies which will slowly charm their way into your brain. Occasionally the songs seem a little detached from each other, almost like a singles collection rather than a coherent album, but it is a debut album worth hunting down, and Haiku Salut a band well worth keeping an eye on.

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