Haiku Salut – Portrait in Dust (Secret Name)

Haiku Salut – Portrait in Dust (Secret Name)

Derbyshire electronic trio Haiku Salut release the second of their recent film scores – commissioned by Live Cinema UK – with Portrait in Dust scoring 1920 short ‘Nude Woman in Waterfall’.

Haiku Salut by Ashley BirdArtist: Haiku Salut
Track: Portrait in Dust
Label: Secret Name
Released: 16 October 2020
Find it: Bandcamp | Spotify

When Haiku Salut play it is not only something you listen to, but something you watch. The trio are in sync as they move, in natural choreography, around their set up and between analogue and digital. Sometimes vintage lamps glow around them, silhouettes broken by flashes of movement as the music swells, sometimes they battle music-playing robots, at other times a silent movie gets a new score from them. It is always spell-binding.

Their music is often drawn from the landscape around them – broad Derbyshire countryside undulating or hewn sharply, long-vistas of every green or short-sightedness in the mist and mizzle, space and community. The physicality and sociology of their surroundings seeps in as digital rain, as the togetherness of a brass band, as hazy reverb and sharp or bold guitar lines.

For this latest project they accepted the challenge from Live Cinema UK to re-score two pieces of BFI archive footage. They had just two weeks to create each piece. Their first – Pattern Thinker – was an ‘electronic fun time dance party’ to accompany 1940’s fitness campaign ‘4 and 20 Fit Girls‘. Their second film choice was ‘Nude Woman by Waterfall’, a ten minute sensuous bohemian film recorded in 1920 by filmographer Claude Friese-Greene, which they’ve scored with track Portrait in Dust.

Sophie Barkerwood of the band said of the inspiration for the score, “We were thinking: dust motes in sunshine, the smell of distant woodsmoke, Derwent valley fog, the inevitable deterioration of everything. Nothing. Everything. Being. A meditative arrangement for the mind and body after an aerobic workout. ”

Across the ten minutes the track expands and softly contracts, a languorous stretch in harmony with the calming flow of nature. There is points of darkness – strange shadows, deep pools, cold creeps – but the light returns and refracted multiples. The track yawns through its midsection, soft stutters, and low frequency rises and drops. Like whale-song there is mystery and majesty coming together into a meditative piece.

Haiku Salut are adept at casting musical reflections of place, of time, of emotion for the most part with no need for words. They’ve long been described as ‘an instrumental dream-pop-post-folk-neo-everything’ by critiques trying for the convenience of a genre, but in truth they are out there on their own. Innovating in composition and in instrumentation, endlessly curious about how technology, sound and vision can be conducted together for deeper experiences.

A national treasure of a band, Portrait in Dust is yet another hypnotically-faceted jewel in which to lose yourself.

Portrait in Dust, and previous score Pattern Thinker, by Haiku Salut are both out digitally now. The film score project was commissioned by Live Cinema UK, supported by Arts Council England and Film Hub North.

Find Haiku Salut: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp
Images (on page and cover image): Ashley Bird

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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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