Dawn Chorus #8: Haq – Evaporator

Dawn Chorus #8: Haq – Evaporator

Weak autumn sunshine sidles past the clouds today and we let Evaporator, crystalline experimental electronica from collaborative project Haq, do the heavy lifting on keeping our midweek mood buoyant. 

Haq Evaporator album coverartArtist: Haq
Album: Evaporator
Label: Bearsuit Records
Year of release: 2019
Genre: experimental electronica

The internet, for the most part these days, is a despair-inducing sinkhole of the worst of humanities uninformed opinions and intolerance-fuelled hate speech run wild. But if you can get past that it can occasionally throw you a gem, in the faceted surface of which you see refracted the utopian dream of connection and community you held decades ago when first setting foot on the information superhighway.

Such, is this offering from experimental electronica collaboration Haq which fell into our ears via independent label Bearsuit Records. It’s the second time Japanese duo N-qia and Scottish composer Harold Nono have worked together, with Evaporator the mini-album plus remixes follow up to their 2013 release Nocturnals.

And so it is with the sound of early Haiku Salut with which the title track of album ‘Evaporator’ introduces itself – street-corner busks interrupted by whimsical music box hypnotism and nebulous vocals. This is steampunked mechanicals with a digital rendering of choral pop breaks, which finally find themselves clamped between the steady but ethereal vocal line and increasingly impatient beats. The second half of the album is remixes and the Annie & The Station version of this track fractures the composition, letting darkness flow out from the cracks with only brief respite as it turns that whimsy into discord.

Across the five tracks there is often a quite gentle beginning, with playful and quirky sounds all softened by that vocal (which is from Nozomi of N-qia) but by the midpoint all have a mood change. There’s a sense of impatience and distracted natures as more often than not they escalate into something more pounding, more domineering, just…more. Beats are turned up in the mix and on ‘Dustboy Horrorshow’ they slam against an intricate riff, that choral pop peeking between the curtains before drawing away again as the track takes a breath and calms itself to denouement.

There are moments where the experimental natures treads dangerously close to uncoordinated (‘Antics in a Maze’) but never quite falls apart, coming back together and moving on with some charm. There are found sounds aplenty across the tracks and places where this album becomes a darker listen before being lifted back toward the light. On ‘Norvell’ that’s with strings, giving a soaring cinematic quality to a release with more lo-fi production elsewhere.

Given the original material only amounts to five tracks the inclusion of the remixes are welcomed and they do change the tone – the aforementioned ‘Evaporator’ remix brings in a Tubular Bells-bent, while ‘Bees in my Feet’ gets a post-rock sweep. ‘Dustboy Horrorshow’ remixed by Ida66 is now the escalating final level of some platform game you didn’t know until this point you were trapped within, distracting you from the dread of it with sparkling fireworks to light up your eyes. While in the hands of Ryota Mikami is the last huzzah of a failing fairground carousel, the world blurring as into indecipherable time and colour as it makes the last rotations, dizzyingly twisting you toward and away from background sounds as the gallop jerks ever slower.

Is this a classic of the genre? No, not quite. But it’s a fascinating listen and it comes with the bonus of hope – that not everything that comes from the internet should be burnt with fire, but that sometimes connections which lead to fresh crops of creativity can still be found.

Find Haq:

Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up on an album you think more people should hear, get in touch

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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