Greg Haines :: Where We Were (Denovali)

No commercial potential. Where We Were is raw and impulsive rather than polished, calculated and forced; erratic rather than predictable, and it reveals its allure gradually with each listening session instead of revealing it all at once. An album that rewards the attentive listener pursuing the indefinable.

I ran into the name Greg Haines almost on all of my favorite websites for discovering new gems, but for some reason didn’t bother to check out his music properly, even though I had a feeling I should. So, when the announcement about the release of his new album, Where We Were came from the multicolored record label, Denovali, in April this year, I knew it was time for me to sit down and finally give his music an in-depth check. After reading some glorifying reviews of his previous album, Digressions (Preservation, 2012) and even investigating it a little bit, I was expecting Where We Were to be a work of elegiac, cinematic, modern classical music.

After reading the press release of Where We Were and listening to the music for the first time, I was excited to find out that it’s actually Greg Haines’ most different and adventurous work to date. No commercial potential. Where We Were is raw and impulsive rather than polished, calculated and forced; erratic rather than predictable, and it reveals its allure gradually with each listening session instead of revealing it all at once. An album that rewards the attentive listener pursuing the indefinable. An array of mysterious electronic wizardry and acoustic glimmer fluctuates and rumbles, sounding like a broken transmission from another world, generating moments of euphoria—sometimes peaceful and carefree like floating in space watching a colorful nebula, at other times uplifting and wild like coronal rain. Always poignant and occasionally with a sense of darkness, Where We Were is a great example of what electronic music can be if done originally and creatively. It’s not a recording of a person just messing around aimlessly with some instruments, it’s a documentation of one man translating elusive moments of inspiration into sound.

Even though the flow of Where We Were is erratic, the album holds a sense of a journey. The eight tracks assemble something crystallized that is best taken in as a whole. The intensity with which the sound is manipulated is mind boosting and at times overwhelming. Ambient, techno, dub, electronica and classical music come to mind when listening to the music, but Where We Were doesn’t fall under any of those labels. It’s a strange beast composed of analog synths, old tape delays, piano, vibraphone, percussion and free, boundless approach. An intimate work that lets the listener interpret itself in any way he or she wants.

Where We Were is available on Denovali. [Release page]

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