The past two albums gave me nightmares and hallucinations in more than just title and now I am promised decadence and luminosity. Will a light suddenly go on in my head and understanding be reached as far as Haiku Funeral are concerned? Nope, not at all and this duo helmed by Dimitar Dimitrov and William Kopecky never fail to confound and challenge with their work. This time around it is a double album containing 90 minutes of music too. Nothing here should be taken for granted as the project are real musical chameleons, no 2 songs are particularly the same although patience may well reward with the disparate elements making some sort of sense. For a start the band are based in Marseille France but lyrics are delivered in Russian, English, Norwegian and even a splash of Latin. Themes I guess are open to interpretation and the words strike as incredibly poetic. The duo have a host of guests to aid them on this odyssey and this really helps the music constantly shift shape. One song could be enhanced by the lilting tones of an E-Bow, the next the delirious pitch of a saxophone and then another by the fragrant, mystic tones of a sitar.
First album ‘Decadent’ starts off in a way that I found myself somewhat at home with no doubt helped by having two albums under my belt already. The electronic facets and subtle industrialised beats have a dark flow that is certainly not alien. Both members seem involved vocally although who is responsible for what I am uncertain. Things vary in this way between authoritarian clean near chanting and harsher gravid tones. I found this helping to define the music here. For example second number ‘нимA’ adopting the more extreme elements and reminds of artists such as GGFH (something I mentioned on previous albums). Somewhat differently though the cleaner vocals on a track such as ‘The Crown Of His Glory’ along with some celestial choral work has the definite air of Laibach about it. Others are much less easy to dissimulate ‘The Dreams Of Celestial Beings’ for example with screeching moody sax and near beat poetry (rather than Haiku) sounds like it has escaped from a Burroughs cut up book via Coil. Another complete twist is found on the album’s closing track ‘Dreaming Kali In The Temple Of Fire’ where hand-beaten drums and the aforementioned sitar take the music to other hemispheres bringing to mind everything from free jazz, to Krautrock and World music ala Bill Laswell. The phrase ‘destroy all rational thought’ springs to mind here, nothing is quite what it seems.
Disc 2 ‘Luminosity’ takes the tempo down a notch not that it reaches anything resembling fever pitch on the first album. The light is lacerated and the music moves down much more dark ambient left hand paths. At first I feel like I could have crept into an Egyptian temple, there is even a slithering snake like sound effect rattling ominously and as the drum beats and the vocals come in talking about cutting heads off one looks for hidden booby traps and untethered blades sweeping down. This is incredibly atmospheric stuff and at times downright creepy. Going with the flow is the best option and I am reminded quite a bit of Jocelyn Pook’s ‘Masked ball’ from Eyes Wide Shut by the low ominous throb droning away on ‘Vision Pit.’ Lovers of the likes of Arcana and Raison d’etre will certainly appreciate this side of Haiku Funeral. A bit of Scandinavian poetry courtesy of David Lillkvist on ‘October Snow’ spreads a winter chill and again changes dimensions briefly this time in a neo-folk direction. With the wailing sax it should be too arty for its own good in an Ulver sort of way but is strangely both enthralling and calming. Taking us through poems of infernal flesh to slumbering synthesized motions everything leads to the infinite with last 15 minute opus ‘Endlessly’ leaving things to drift off in a calm ambient fashion.
The double disc is lovingly packaged and sounds great, it was no surprise to see that the mastering was done by Greg Chandler at Priory. There’s no denying that this was a challenging listen but the double disc has plenty of appeal to lovers of all sorts of music if you are willing to be adventurous and give it time. I’m still not sure of what exactly Haiku Funeral are all about by a long stretch of the imagination but their music is definitely growing on me.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)