This is officially the closest us at Fluid Radio have come to describing an album both Detroit Techno and Dub integrative. Augmented with wistful keening and wakening from handiwork to stretch and shape synth-based composites, with piano, vibraphone and delay effects, the one who could transcendentally introspect this deeply as to unwravel a whole new persona to the audience, is Greg Haines.
Greg has been known to Fluid Radio regulars, literally, on the regular. This is no shock when you take the opportunity to listen to his music, full to the brim with emotion, soulful hacking at the barracks of unconsciousness and spilling over of lifeblood from every interpolative stance. That interpolation is no less present than on “Where We Were”, a seeming questioning-of-context title, a fromage frais of differing starts and stops, curves in the “Tablula Rasa” so to speak, of his Arvo Part, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze influences.
More influences spill out hitherto in the press – King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Rhythm & Sound. Haines has taken all his Modern Classical training: writing scores, writing for other musicians, writing with an “other” in mind, and another cause…to this, a nothingness. But at the same time, a something more – a pure expression of himself, in solitude, in the comforts of his own studio, to be what he truly wants to be, without pretense, without the surfeits of touring stresses, impacts, whether he’d like it or not, have subconscious direction on him.
From the off “The Intruder” marks out the spellbinding piano of classic Haines, but adds new touches, like the synthesizer you might hear on an art Pop record, or something from 80s New Order. A common leitmotif: syrupy and condensing diamel dynamics, brought into dystopia, like stifling a sneeze – then sent for an LSD-ish loop, a kaleidoscopic psychedelia, as if the components had reinforced glass backing them up. The personally enshrouded attitude the pieces seem to take, so much so that it is confessed that Peter Broderick’s string section was left on the cutting room floor, solidifies the individuality Haines has greater pursued as his career has progressed.
Clearly a logical progression by way of quasi-extension from the performing arts and dance industry, it’s nevertheless clear Haines couldn’t have made a record like this at 18 years of age. 2006 was a long time ago, and it is thrilling to hear how he has matured. Flickers of vibraphone on piano that strays over two octaves for “The Intruder” sets the newly founded Haines polyrhythm aesthetic to Pink Floyd footwork – still the Modern Classical tropes remain. “Something Happened” introduces more electronic texture which sounds like GAS’ Wolfgang Voigt munching a bag of Walkers crisps while trapped in a busy elevator listening to Greg and Danny Saul’s Liondialer project.
Rhythms change up, stature is questioned, all creating an excellent entry into the record’s standout, “So It Goes”. This is where the regulation of “Where We Were” undergoes the most trans-formation. A soaring synth, multilayered like a painted seashell, she plays a major key then returns to a filtered slumber. The 80s reminiscent interlude style of “Trasiemo” sheds its melody like a re-cast tear. Whereas “Habanero” is perhaps the most innocent Detroit and dub Techno amalgam out there at present. The finale, a version of “Habanero”, breathes ancient breaths into an echo chamber like vacuum particles from a Mike Oldfield “Tubular Bells” – with cheese and Rioja condiments – manifesto. The art of utopia/dystopia juggling down to a doomed art.
Yet there is no brutal reality with “Where We Were”, like lambs silenced for non-vegan dinners. Like a lamb, too, Haines develops his own insulating coat at an astonishing rate. His use of illusive metre on tracks such as “The Whole”, and 3 years back, “Until The Point Of Least Resistance”, allude to anything but a composer going through the motions. Instead, it creates a formal post-iconclastry that destroys genre boundaries by sucking the detritus into a hoover and being left to live a life as compost – then, new musical notation.
“Where We Were” is a magnificent album, free of pretense, stuffed with more minute pleasures that become significant revelations over time. It all adds to the special body of work Greg has accumulated 2006-2013, and luckily for the collectors and completists among you, Denovali have issued a 3CD, 5LP retrospective at the same time. Meeting Greg for my first concert promotion in May 2010 was eventful, but it would seem there’s no better place to listen to a Greg Haines record than in the comfort of your own space. Incredibly recommended.