Separating themselves from the turbulence in a cottage in Derbyshire
A gateway to the open space and scenery of the Derbyshire Peak District, in the cradle of the Industrial Revolution where the power of the Derwent was harnessed for cotton mills, sits a picturesque village, which folktronic three-piece Haiku Salut call home. Walking up its streets criss-crossed with bunting, past a mill pond over which a ramshackle book store presides and stone cottages lean against each other, it is something of an idyll. As well as the tourist draw there is a sense of creativity in the air, bolstered by the arts and crafts crammed shop windows. It fits perfectly as the backdrop to the band’s quiet and gentle demeanour, although not necessarily as an obvious location for their electronic music.
Described as ‘baroque-pop-folktronic-neo-classical-something-or-other’, Haiku Salut’s instrumental electronic music builds in intricate cycles, layer on ambient layer. Hidden away in one of the small cottages they make music with a warm touch and a big heart, intellectually fascinating and emotionally resonant. The home studio and rehearsal space replicates as closely as possible their stage set up – a carefully constructed central bank of keyboards and synths, packed pedal boards below. To one side the percussion; to the other guitars and homemade robotics. A trumpet balances on an amp, pointing out of the open window. The thick stone walls make for natural soundproofing, and out of what looks like a chaos of instruments comes striking and sublime sounds.
It can be a surprise – the swells of sound, the complex arrangements, the flourishes of detail, all from just three people. On record you assume the process supports the sound but to see the band pull it together live really brings the performative aspect into their music – they’re carefully choreographed as they move around each other, weaving together both digital and analogue instrumentation. Tonight they take up their positions around me in the small room and play a new piece accompanied by homemade robots tapping in sync against percussion from cymbals and glass bottles. The sound resonates inward, vibrations physically enveloping us as they take cues from each other and build the track from its quiet beginning to its crescendo, where everything in the room seems to be in movement.