HAQ - Nocturnals

Haq - Nocturnals

12 songs
49:41 minutes
***** ***


Ever since the Internet outgrew its childhood of analogue modem slowness, net labels all over the world started releasing albums by artists collaborating from the most distant corners of the Earth, without necessarily ever having to meet in person. One such new venture is Haq, consisting of the Japanese duo N-qia (Nozomi on vocals and Takma on keyboards and programming) and Scottish multi-instrumentalist Harold Nono who provides keyboards, guitars and programming.

The past has taught us that these musical long-distance relationships either work or fail, and I am happy to declare that in the case of Haq, we are in the presence of a certain success. The music is mostly carried by the electronic synth sounds and rather askew beat programming, with Nono’s guitar adding a discreetly organic touch. Above all soar the ethereal vocals of Nozomi who sounds a little like the more atmospheric material from Boris. The twelve song are all rather concise, rarely making it over five minutes, and the three-piece is smart enough to add so many ideas and influences that comparing the resulting music with any one band. The more floating material may remind not only me of the shoegaze heaven of My Bloody Valentine, but there is a more experimental quality to Haq. While these guys are definitely able to come up with some surprisingly catchy material, they also take care to add enough arrhythmic beats and offbeat layers to leave the listener forever guessing what comes next. All of this might have felt disjointed in the hands of lesser artists, but the three people involved here seem to have the necessary experience and talent to pull it off.

I am not even trying to point out any single highlights, because the Nocturnals’ forte is its charm to capture your attention from beginning to end. Combining the spaced-out dreaminess of My Bloody Valentine with the more intelligent corners of experimental electronica, Haq eventually and comfortably end up in an as yet unchartered territory where the listener can raptly discover all the subtleties and details within their very own kind of off-beat pop. Friends of experimental sounds will be delighted by this unusual yet still very accessible foray into the unexplored regions beyond what is commonly accepted as pop music.

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