CD Review

Haiku – “Synthese”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

In due time traditional music will be assimilated into computers, amended and modified by postmodern thought. A proof positive preview is Haiku's Synthese, a nine-track adjustment of conventional theory with a rebellious but vigilant cyberpunk mentality. Groundbreaking in some manners, disturbing in others, Synthese is one of the many sudden realizations that a new dawn in music, electronic music particularly, is peeking over the horizon.

Elemental ambience meets drum and bass, a recurrent theme on Synthese. Set mostly to a repetitive monotone key as backdrop, the untitled tracks weave alternate interpretations as Haiku gains insight into its own craft. They explore their digital compositions with underground slickness and never miss the dark corners in which to test their boundaries. They lend a jazzy texture to Track #1, indicating an investigative tendency pushed further with random bursts of outrageous noise. Haiku takes the next logical step by implementing a rhythmic grind on Track #2 which blossoms sensuality with its layered melodies and, of all things, turntable scratching! Organic in one way, surreal and abnormal in another, Haiku reflects its namesake by tapping into nature and elemental stimuli, continued on Track #3 with digital syncopation that sounds like Kodo stripped and re-imagined through an ambient treatment.

Track #4 has a sleazy tempo that escalates its dirtiness with overt rowdy splices, while Haiku works its way towards serious groove on Tracks #5 and Track #9 through rock steady trip hop. The other tracks submerge themselves in drum and bass, though Track #7 sneaks in a tribal essence that elevates the near-redundancy it has found itself between Tracks #6 and #8. Meanwhile, the blasts of random noise seem merely for shock value, and they nearly undermine the whole project.

Nevertheless, Synthese is a pretty clever piece of work that embodies the constant change in a medium that knows no boundaries yet. When the machine replaces man-made instruments altogether, it's going to be do or die. Haiku seem intent on being doers.

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