Haiku – For War Within EP review
Here, Jessica Yu explores the inspiration, connotation, and metaphors that are the debut EP For War Within from Melbourne five piece, Haiku. . .
Haiku’s debut EP, For War Within, is a sonic wander through the woodlands of Ange Armstrong’s (vocals, guitar) mind. She cites Keats as a huge influence over their lyrical storytelling and indeed her “branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain” (Ode to Psyche) are well grafted over the rich instrumentals co-written by Haiku-boys, Nick Ampt (keys), Lachy Zammit (percussion), Esmond Angeles (guitar) and Caleb Tong (cello).
Like most debuts, it’s hard to pin down, an anomaly birthed by a plurality of influences, however, Haiku describe their sound as “basically indie-folk” but it’s not the tame and sleepy kind associated with Kings of Convenience, Sufijan Stevens or Bombay Bicycle Club during their Flaws period. The EP awakens, yawns and stretches its lungs with the huge orchestral sound and the soft crackling of distortion pedals in Parthian Arrow. But like Cloud Control played by kids and animals, coo-ees, birdcalls and Native American shrieks enliven the follow-up, For You.
For You is an unsung letter to a lover. Like the epic opener, Parthian Arrow, it moves with a primal force, creepy-crawling up to you guitar and an animalistic instinct to press on to the moment of catharsis, in which Ange sings along to high-pressure djembe, ‘there’s a light at the centre of everything in everything I do.’ The dense lyrics have the self-reflexive, confused and enigmatic tease of an Amy Woodside poem. The open-hearted vocals – which soothe the misanthropic ruminations they sing – are not quite pure, there is a textural something else overlaying the sound which I can only explain as the feel of pollen on a petal or dust on a long unborrowed library book.
Wildflower is crafted like a Chinese puzzle box which Ange’s lilting, rich and smoke-filled voice gently encourages you to solve for yourself. Haiku are sonic carvers of conundrums, skipping ahead of the listener with shimmying bells, syncopated clicks and playful xylophone. There is the satisfaction and frustration of struggling to untangle the undergrowth of their elf-song. We must sing alongside them to understand, echoing their call, ‘You said, let’s see what we can find’.
The sparse landscape and sound continues into the final track of the EP and its music video, Love, For The Day is Near. It is appropriate that all sound but what is absolutely necessary (cello and vocals) is shed from a song about “Persistently rummaging for your soul”.
Haiku’s music is an argument for truth, which must be dug for, discovered and weighed up but which is displayed in the beauty and frailty of everything. Haiku are an enigmatic pentagon of sound, colour and self-reflexive wisdom.
Little-known but well-loved by those who have tuned in to the online release of their EP, For War Within, they are a tiny flame, threatening to swallow up the world they cannot help but call beautiful.
Word by Jessica Yu
Haiku’s EP launch is tonight at the Evelyn Hotel on May 9, $7 pre-sale or $10 at the door.
Digital download http://haikuband.bandcamp.com/album/for-war-within.