EP REVIEW: HAAi – ‘Put Your Head Above The Parakeets’: a quartet of hard future tronica floor-fillers

HAAi  is the future tronica smithy of London-based, Australian-born sound forger Teneil Throssell. She’s taken a meandering journey to become who she is musically now, moving through a myriad of scenes and influences in order to fashion the sound she’s arrived at for Mute.

A teenage guitarist with a vision of where she wanted to be, she moved from her rural roots, into Sydney and onto the punk scene there. From there it was London and the psych sounds of Dark Bells; then Berlin, and an epiphany of future electronic sound on that city’s famously hedonistic and experimental dancefloors. 

She came back to the UK, moved into DJing; Mute came calling last year and she released her debut outing, the six-tracker Systems Up, Windows Down, on neon orange vinyl this February. It included genius moves such as “6666”. It was a hell of a way to announce your new incarnation, the darkest vocal chop-up, bass boom, wrecked-record crackle.

Her second EP is almost with us now: Put Your Head Above The Parakeets comes out on September 18th. You can snag it on a fetching foliage-green limited 12” over at Mute. You’ll find the to-buy link at the end. 

It’s a four-tracker outing this time, rather than six; I’d say it’s also a slightly lighter work than the ballsy darkness of Systems Up, Window Down. Which isn’t of course to say it’s lacking in depth and punch and crunch at all. You can watch the video for the nearly-title track “Head Above The Parakeets” below. 

It comes in on a melody swell, plenty of ear-pricking and -delighting glitch and hooks you hard with a twin sonar pulse. Crackles sweep from side to side. There’s a shift with that once-abused, now underemployed little technique: the timestretched voice, which gives a lovely, distanced humanity. Melodies layers build in, weave, interplay and there’s a drum and bass sweep of percussion, bodysnatched and repurposed and kept on a leash so as not to subdue. It’s hallucinatory, expansive, demands you dance but will wink you off to just listen if needs be. Clever, clever.

HAAi says: ‘Head Above The Parakeets’ is an obvious play on words: to signify the feeling of risk, apprehension and being exposed in what you create. 

“[The video] was made from footage from some of my favourite festivals and shows over the past year, some of my own visuals and some that were made for my 2019 Sonar show by INSRT. 

“It’s a nostalgic, psychedelic nod to the job and people I love so much and a reaction to the whirlwind that was my life for the past couple of years.”

Second up is “Rotating In Unison”, for which she’s also released an evocatively grainy accompanying film. It begins with a suite of icy sustain, staticky textures rolled across it like gravel skittering on a frozen pond. “Check” is the rhythmically interjecting vocal hook; there’s woofer-juddering sonics, a midrange tone; it’s not actually until more than two minutes in that she lets the percussion loose from its den, releases that muscular tension, gives you what she’s implied she will all along. It walks a very deft line between dancefloor devotion and functionality and head-massaging IDM atmospherics.

“Bon Viveur”: this is interesting. There’s discorporeal shushing and other once-human vocal textures; the bottom end and the mid-paced breaks roll recall nothing less than prime, “Rings Of Saturn”/“Two Swords Technique”-era Photek. When he took drum and bass and slowed it down, explored the intelligent menace it might hold. It breaks out deeper into banging old-skool hardcore. There can be absolutely no doubt in your mind what it wants from you. Best obey.

“Bass Is The Place” she puns on Sun Ra for the concluding track. The bass is deep and thrumming, has a real 1990 in a warehouse 8-bit texture. It’s minimal, with a bell holding the melodic suggestion together. My, it clatters through your frame and scorches in drone; pauses, bites again. A melody from someplace else – you can’t quite place where – is shattered in your face …. It ends, done with you.

HAAi’s second EP for Mute is a bit of a siren song. She lures you in with sweet texture, fixes her gaze; flip the vinyl and your musculoskeletal presence is absolutely at her beck. It shifts from IDM into drum and bass and right on back to hardcore, step by step.

For a four-tracker, it’s an uncompromising and cleverly sequenced trip. Stand back if you’re faint of heart; surrender, if not.

HAAi’s Put Your Head Above The Parakeets will be released by Mute on September 18th on digital and limited green vinyl formats. You can secure your copy at Mutebank, here.

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