Known for his blend of classical composition with the aesthetics of electronic music and minimalism, GREG HAINES loosely belongs to a musical scene that is associated with names such as NILS FRAHM, SYLVAIN CHAUVEAU, JOHANN JOHANNSSON and HAUSCHKA.
His first three albums, contemporary compositions fraught with tension, beauty and emotional intensity, which were already compared with greats such as ARVO PÄRT and MAX RICHTER, now are re-released in a collector’s box via Denovali Records. A decision that undoubtedly is related to the most recent LP from this talented composer and multi-instrumentalist, insofar it widely marks a radical break with his former artistic work. Because for this new album, Where We Were, also released via Denovali Records, HAINES took sideways steps to areas which unveil surprising influences and idols as for instance the legendary FELA KUTI drummer and inventor of afrobeat, TONY ALLEN, pioneering dub greats like KING TUBBY and LEE PERRY, and founders of the ‘Kosmische Musik’ such as TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULTZE.
Big names and widely separated musical styles and genres, of course. But HAINES actually manages to conflate all these directions into a dramaturgical compacted work. Discovering analog synths and old tape delays, and improvising with acoustic instruments like piano, vibraphone and percussion, he creates an atmospheric meandering realm of experience between the fields of modern classic, ambient and beat-driven dub/dub-techno enriched with spaced out soundscapes and a myriad of electroacoustic elements.
Starting with a nightly, cosmically opened ambience that suddenly is intruded by a sensorial comet’s tail, Where We Were assumes a first shape on the second track, Something Happened, unfolding an increasingly drifting dub-scape from where the listener all at once awakes in the form of a soaked, heavyweight rhythm figure which transforms its character again into a light-footed, forward tripping movement.
It’s this mutability that makes this album a great one, its tonal variety and scenic opened scope, be it in the glistening submerged world of Trasimeno or the astral Wake Mania Without End II, or in rhythmically propulsive tracks like The Whole and Habenero. And not least it’s GREG HAINES‘ feature to be both a composer and an improvisational musician that gives Where We Were its unity in diversity, a seldom achieved consistence that increases with each listen.