Haiku Salut: The Hill, The Light, The Ghost (Secret Name) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, January 28th, 2022  

Haiku Salut

The Hill, The Light, The Ghost

Secret Name

Sep 14, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Experimental trio Haiku Salut have been light years ahead of most of their peers for over a decade now. Emerging from rural Derbyshire back in 2010 having played with local indie favorites The Deirdres, the trio—Louise Croft, Sophie Barkerwood, and Gemma Barkerwood—have spent the ensuing years building a reputation as one of the most progressive acts on UK shores. It’s easy to see why when taking a trip back through the group’s discography, particularly in chronological order. Each record serves as a document of Haiku Salut’s development, from the singles that preceded 2013’s debut Tricolore up to 2019’s remarkable soundtrack to Buster Keaton’s The General. No genre is exclusive, whether it be ambient folk, pastoral dreamscapes or glitchy electronica. Haiku Salut’s music traverses any set boundaries or genres making them all the more exquisite for it.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that The Hill, The Light, The Ghost, Haiku Salut’s fifth album, represents their boldest statement of intent to date. Essentially inspired by a collection of field recordings captured by Sophie on a handheld Tascam device, The Hill, The Light, The Ghost began to take shape after Sophie and Gemma went to Berlin to play a show while third band member Louise was on parental leave. During their trip, they visited an old doctor’s house that had been abandoned and empty since the 1980s. Having set the Tascam to “record,” Sophie jumped over the gate, entered the house, then played a few notes on the piano. This recording eventually became “Entering,” the second song on the album and as a result, The Hill, The Light, The Ghost was born.

Taking inspiration from that recording and the ghostly surroundings accompanying it, the trio then actively began searching for ghosts, then framing ideas for songs around them. Creating an exploration of sound and how it relates to memory only without personal context and building their own worlds around each one instead, The Hill, The Light, The Ghost draws on such emotions to create nine pieces that are all connected to a specific place and time. A concept album of sorts, but one that doesn’t necessarily follow any pre-ordained musical narrative. The Hill, The Light, The Ghost could easily be Haiku Salut’s Loveless moment.

Take “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” for example, which moves between the fractured ambience of My Bloody Valentine at their most effervescent and John Cage at his most obtuse. Nothing is left to chance and every avenue explored. Likewise on the delicate “I Dreamed I Was Awake For a Very Long Time,” which is possibly the closest piece of the nine in sound to anything Haiku Salut have released beforehand. What sets it apart is the way it glides effortlessly into the next segment, “How the Day Starts.”

For a band who’ve always pushed themselves beyond any constrained remit or expectations, The Hill, The Light, The Ghost might well be Haiku Salut’s boldest collection of wares to date. Definitive in its execution and unrivaled by any of the group’s contemporaries, it’s a masterful exercise in experimentation and one that reveals something new with every subsequent listen. (www.haikusalut.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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