In a time when band names can tend to gravitate towards the uninspired or formulaic the appearance of Derbyshire all-girl trio Haiku Salut has been one of the most eye-catching musical discoveries of 2013 to date. Their name may be phonetically agreeable (go on – say it one more time), yet it’s also strangely somehow reflective of their music, capturing the sense of individuality and otherness present in their music.
Tonight’s show at the Buffalo Bar is the launch event for their enchanting debut album Tricolore. Support comes from The Understudies who impress with an assured, melodic acoustic set that subtly references the likes of The Smiths, Tindersticks and The Housemartins. By the time they close with latest single Everyone Deserves At Least One Summer Of Love they’ve won over the crowd, some of who eagerly ask when their debut album will be out (the band are still looking for a label to release it). Next, Birmingham trio Kate Goes push the evening in a different direction with their quirky, kitschy, offbeat girl-pop before Haiku Salut take to the stage.
The bijou nature of Tricolore (clocking in just over half an hour in length) ensures that most of it gets played tonight. One of the most impressive aspects of the show is how they swap instruments effortlessly (throughout the gig each member plays accordion, glockenspiel, synthesiser, percussion and laptop not to mention individual contributions of ukulele, trumpet and guitar). Indeed, it is the refreshing mix of instrumentation and fluid integration of electronics that shines through as their biggest strength. The music may be entirely instrumental but it has personality, femininity and appeal in abundance. There may be occasional nervous glances shot across the stage but judging by the reactions on their faces the band are enjoying it as much as the sell-out crowd.
Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart begins quietly but blossoms into something vivacious and animated that recalls Icelandic ensemble Múm. A similar progression happens on Six Impossible Things as the layers of accordion gradually flower into something bigger, whilst the backfiring opening beats of Leaf Stricken elicit similar comparisons.
Picking out likenesses to other bands might not be too difficult but these influences are subsumed and presented in an original, embraceable way. They may not quite have the string-based refinement of Icelandic quartet Amiina but they definitely share common musical ground (especially evident on Glockelbar), whilst the piano-led Watanabe has a slight Penguin Cafe Orchestra feel to it.
The latter part of the set features Los Elefantes which has a distinct Parisian charm to it, evoking the music of Yann Tiersen. They are joined on stage by A Little Orchestra for Train Tracks For Wheezy, ensuring it sails away blissfully just like on record and they also play No, You Say It which, powered by a euphoric 4/4 beat and containing hints of Dan Deacon, is the perfect set-closer. The music on Tricolore may not be the easiest to replicate in a live environment but tonight Haiku Salut succeed, capturing our hearts along the way.