Haiku Salut

Haiku Salut


I’m not a religious man, so I don’t know off the top of my head where the Halle St Peter’s church is. A cursory Google informs me it’s deep in the heart of Ancoats, outside the comfort blanket of the usual Northern Quarter gig stomping ground. As it happens, it’s only five minutes into the Ancoats badlands, past abandoned pubs and empty mills, over such industrial sounding streets as Loom Street and Gun Street. Fortunately there’s a bar in the main hall selling cans and bottles and with a very generous approach to measures of wine; there’s still some left in the bottle when the couple in front of me have been served, so the barman encourages her to have a drink so he can empty the bottle, chuckling that you don’t get service like that in town.

The old church is an appropriately beautiful venue for Haiku Salut to perform their Lamp Show, made up of a host of vintage lamps of different shapes and sizes flickering and flashing in time to choice cuts from their stunning new album Etch And Etch Deep and debut Tricolore. As we arrive, local favourite Elle Mary is strumming her way through a fragile, stark set. The hallowed hall is in an appropriately reverent mood. You can hear a pin drop as her set comes to a heart-rending close and we wish we’d arrived earlier. She’s certainly one to catch sooner rather than later before her venues start getting exponentially larger.

She disentangles her amp from Haiku Salut’s extensive set up and we take the opportunity to get an idea of what we’re in for. A square of instruments ranging from a glockenspiel to a couple of synths, a piano accordion in one corner and various drums placed far enough apart that they’re clearly not going to be played by the same person at the same time, all surrounded by a variety of house lamps, desk lights, even an illuminating globe. Two coloured spotlights light up the pillars that flank their set-up and we’re sat in bleacher-style seating opposite. Tonight isn’t your typical Tuesday night gig, but then there’s not many bands you can reasonably compare to both Beirut and Aphex Twin.

The lights go down, glitchy electronica sparks into life and the lamps flicker madly in time. A mandolin is plugged into a sampler and looped into the impossibly complicated introduction of ‘Things Were Happening And They Were Strange’. Each band member is a one-woman-band, each playing every instrument on stage at some point, often two at once. Each track segues one to the other with a thirty second blast of glitch, the lights flashing and fading in time as the band flitter from one instrument to the next. The likes of ‘You Dance A Particular Algorithm’ and ‘Skip To The End’ are transformed into Four Tet-style bangers. The shuffling, crunching percussive loops of found sound that underpin everything are the main trigger for the lights, allowing tracks like ‘Divided By Surfaces And Silence’ to blossom. The opening accordion and throbbing bass synth makes way for furious glockenspiel and impassioned drumming. Recent single ‘Hearts Not Parts’ is a celebration, starting with folky acoustic guitar and bursting into life with the wordless “ooh”s the only vocals of the night.

Etch and Etch Deep‘s opening track and lead single ‘Bleak and Beautiful (All Things)’ is a late highlight, more shifting beats and shimmering synth patterns giving way to waltz-time accordion and melodica somehow seeming like the most natural shift in the world. Elsewhere, Tricolore standout (and not just for its incredible name) ‘Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart”s pastoral plucked guitar gives way to piano arpeggios and mournful trumpet and hammered drums and looped keyboards. Before we know it, they’ve left. They return for an encore of Tricolore closer ‘No, You Say It’ which builds from stuttering glitch into a lo-fi electro pop crescendo, before dissolving back into hazy synths. And then as soon as they arrived, Haiku Salut are gone with a bow and without a word, and we are left speechless.

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Andy Vine

Like all cis-male atopic half Welshmen, I'm a big fan of shouty indie, noisy drone and the daytime Radio 1 playlist. Outside of punk rock my primary interests are tea (white no sugar please) and beer (brown no sugar please). When I'm not writing about stuff for Silent Radio I'm occasionally doing my own stuff which you can read about at http://dead-pheasant.blogspot.com if you want (you should).