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Greg Haines: Where We Were

img  Tobias Fischer

The deeper the story, the more immersive the experience: On his new album, Greg Haines has constructed a multifarious narrative, which taps into history without breaking the flow of the moment. It's one thing to achieve consistency by concentrating exclusively on minimalist, sparsely orchestrated compositions. But to attain the same degree of focus while oscillating between piano sadness, ambient and proto(dub)techno is impressive to say the least.

Haines has taken on this challenge and amalgamated all of these influences and ideas into a colorful collage over the course of the entire album. It's hard to highlight any piece in particular; it's fascinating how much Where We Were seems to get more coherent on each listen, its unity of contrasts growing more organic with each passing second.

Haines is using his main instrument, the piano, on two levels: Firstly, as an easily identifiable lead instrument, as a carrier of melodies and motives and as a supplier of raw materials for background atmospherics composed of spheric electronics and black and white tone clusters. Its second mode of application is far less obvious, especially on those tracks which, through the use of delays and drum machine rhythms, intriguingly tend towards dub-techno. It's almost, as though Haines were trying to develop his own, contemporary version of the Berlin sounds of the 90s on a track like "Something Happened" – only to leave the club straight away on the next piece, "So it goes", a slowly unfolding ambient gem.

Where We Were is marked by the duality between joy and sorrow throughout. Its secret is that it never decides between either one. The compositions don't just segue, but actually feel as though they truly belong together. This even applies to the second half of the album, which reminds me of Kit Clayton thanks to the aforementioned dub elements and sound particles.

Don't get me wrong, though: Where We Were never tries to emulate the past. Consciously or unconsciously, Haines has created a unique bridge between the past and the present here – and it proudly carries his own name.

By Hellmut Neidhardt
Translation by Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Greg Haines
Homepage: Denovali Records