Haiku Salut are an all-female three-piece instrumental band from Derbyshire who describe themselves as ‘baroque-pop-folktronic-neo-classical-something-or-other’. Snappy. They released an EP called How We Got On After The Yarn Bomb back in August 2011, a four-track record which, although lovely, might as well have been written by Yan Tiersen for Amelie 2 (P.S. someone should actually write that film and this should actually be the soundtrack).
Their debut album is called Tricolore – more French love, if you care to remember those sterling textbooks – and once more features more than a light touch of accordion. This time, though, there’s some dubstep beats and bleeps thrown in, alongside varied traditional instrumentation. I suppose you have to try doubly hard to keep things interesting when you’re lyric-less. In the case of Tricolore, this is not limited to orchestration, but applies also to genre and language. The track listings read like a multilingual madman on the bus to the moon, from Glockenbar to Los Elefantes to Watanabe. Their very name, Haiku Salut, is a Japanese-French word marriage. This is a band that either doesn’t want to be pinned down, wants to make out that they’re really worldly, or doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Occasionally, it does sound a bit weird hearing a glockenspiel and an accordion delivering twee musical snippets atop some pretty frantic electronic beats. In Glockenbar, these two strands come together to create something that sounds like a musical train having its wheel changed, in a good way. This electronic addition alternates between being overwhelming when it starts to trip over itself in Leaf Stricken, but then sorely lacks in songs like Rustic Sense of Migration and Los Elefantes (the first release from the album which you can listen to here). The unexpected combination of ukulele, accordion, pianos, loops, beats, bleats and wiggles can work well, particularly for this band. But it needs handling with care and restraint.
Album highlights are the wonderfully understated Haiku Interlude #1 and Six Impossible Things, in which the balance of innovative instrumentation and glorious traditional French music is perfectly struck. Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart could easily be a Deerhoof song, in title alone. It’s kind of silly, but undeniably enjoyable. That’s the thing about this band; it’s not perfect, but it’s engaging, intelligent and well-meaning.