Bristol four-piece HAAL share new single ‘Vinculum’

HAAL press photo
Credit: KC

Four-piece Bristol outfit HAAL have shared a new single titled Vinculum. The track follows the announcement of the band’s debut EP ‘Back To Shilmarine’, which is due out May 10th via Babka Records.

Combining elements of post-rock, trip-hop, and industrial music, HAAL have quickly become cult favourites in the UK live scene. Their psychotropic blend of samples, DIY pedals, and monolithic instrumentation, has seen the band play and tour alongside the likes of Butch Kassidy, Cowboyy, Deliluh, Treeboy & Arc, Ditz, Gurriers, and Pet Shimmers, as well as appearing festivals such as ArcTanGent, Dot to Dot, and more.

Coming on the heels of their recent singles Janus and Judy (and subsequent remixes by Water From My Eyes and Crimewave), the new EP ‘Back To Shilmarine’ arrives as a blistering snapshot of the band’s protean dynamism. The band celebrate their late-90s / early-00s influences in a caustic yet melodic blend of tracks that nod as much to the output of labels such as Dischord, Touch & Go, and Nothing Records, as they do their contemporaries in the UK scene such as SCALER, Famous, deathcrash, and LICE. The EP sees them bring all these touchstones together to create a unique and uninhibited maelstrom of sound that spans everything from intricate math-inflected guitar lines and pensive vocals to propulsive drumming, totemic riffing, and warped synths.

The band gave fans a first taste of the EP with what was arguably their heaviest song to date, Platform 1, 18:19. Now, HAAL share a dark new single titled Vinculum, which showcases a different facet of the band’s sound. Far more stripped back than the prior single the track cycles in an almost jam-like fashion, whilst the vocals twist and corrupt around glitchy guitar lines.

The lyrics to the track were written by a longtime friend of the band – writer and illustrator Nathan Richards (@scrungoincorporated) – and were then narrated by synth player Ethan Jones. The producer with long-time collaborator Alfie Tyson Brown (Katy J Pearson, SCALER, LICE) then re-sampled Jones’ narration, cutting and re-recorded them into the final track, resulting in a liminal, almost robotic sound.

Speaking on the singles themes, Nathan Richards summarise the story as a tale of “A boy who is left shunned from his village, due to his disfigured body. He travels alone in a forgotten part of the world, looking for a cure. He comes across a place where he has the ability to rewrite the natural law of the universe. Being stuck between, hatred, rejection and fear, he is unable to focus his thoughts into anything coherent, only wishing for the vapid idea of him, and everyone else being one and the same. The culmination being the birth of a plague, where everyone suffered equally.”

Hear Vinculum via YouTube below or stream it here.

Speaking on Richards involvement, frontman and guitarist Alfie Hay says “he actually had already written the story when he sent it to me, but the concept particularly resonated with the themes of my other lyrics. Given the story concerns a medieval boy finding a ‘mathematic creation’ that then turns him into something other whilst changing the rest of the world immeasurably, this resonated with the themes of my other lyrics (transhumanism particularly) perfectly. We like to think that the narrator of the song is that very same medieval boy or ‘mathematic creation’, telling his story back to the listener”.

Elsewhere on the EP, the lyrics explore themes of cosmic existentialism, absurdism, meaning, inner reflection, science, history, and general philosophy. “All the lyrics are musings or verses that I wrote at very different times in my life” says Hay. “I then had to fit them around the music, despite being written at wildly different periods.”

“All the lyrics are musings or verses that I wrote at very different times in my life, all namely drawn from all the different art I like.

I like to take inspiration from things naturally excluded from music, such as video games & paintings.

I even included a line that William Shatner said when actually going up into space for the first time: “they should’ve brought a poet up here” (On ‘To Be A Machine’).

Ironically, I think that line is inadvertently poetic and sums up an experience that only a small few have had on this planet, yet it weirdly reverberates with my own reflections on the universe and therefore I needed to immortalise it on this EP“.

The band also have a tight knit collaborative circle around them in the Bristol scene, this is particularly notable around the band’s imagery. The entire art direction – all the EP artwork, photography, and video work – has been a process between the band’s friends. “They are so talented, that it would be borderline stupid not to all work together on something” says Hays, “and this EP is very much a representation of that entire collaborative process.”

HAAL Back To Shilmarine EP cover art work

‘Back To Shilmarine’ tracklisting
1. Vinculum
2. A Squared
3. Platform 1, 18:19
4. To Be A Machine
5. Blank Sleep

‘Back To Shilmarine’ is out May 10th via Babka Records – Pre-order / save here

HAAL’s use of visuals is intrinsically tied to their music and is a focal point of their live shows with them performing in front of visceral, carefully curated images and animations. The band will be heading out on the road to play a number of shows to celebrate new EP’s release, including a return to ArcTanGent Festival in August. Full dates are as follows:

04/05/24 – Wanderlust Festival, Southampton
18/05/24 – Rough Trade, Bristol w/ Jerome – GravyTrain – Ekhidna
06/06/24 – The George Tavern, London w/ Unlucky & Sulk – Bad Vibrations
16/08/24 – ArcTanGent Festival, Bristol

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