Henrik Hytteballe, the Danish synthesis and composer who has been releasing his ambient and healing New Age electronic music as The Haiku Project since the mid-2010s, is one of the genre’s more fascinating personalities, creating complementary works as a visual and musical artist inspired by nature, a wide range of human emotions and the people he’s met along his life’s journey. Just as his paintings range from abstract compositions to partially figurative universes, his music – which culminates now in Gratitude, his latest full-length collection on myndstream - allows us to immerse deeply and bring different experiences and feelings to the moment.
In a 2014 interview on the website mw3.com about his debut album Flow, Henrik said, “It is not by neglecting our feelings that we improve our lives, but by facing life and dealing with it.” His way of doing that – and thus, our way if we accept the sonically dazzling invitation to immerse – is to illuminate his reflections on everything from pain, despair and loss to faith, love and happiness via a hypnotic gumbo of spacey atmospheres, synth generated pulses and groove variations, lonesome languid (and sometimes wailing!) electric guitars and spry piano and keyboard melodies and harmonies.
Interestingly, the artist has described his music as being about finding inner spiritual resources after a big change in life, and was created in gratitude after surviving a severe traffic accident. Henrik says, “Whether the source of inspiration is from personal experience or from nature, I want to express how exciting the world is and life can be, and to share this with other people.” This helps explain what inspired him to record under The Haiku Project. He chose the Japanese poetic form as his artist name simply because he was attracted to the beauty, simplicity and natural qualities of haiku poetry.
While the ten alternately meditative/relaxing and uplifting/energizing tracks of the new collection were surely written from these personal spaces, on a universal level, we can all be grateful that Gratitude meets our fraught, uncertain collective moment in history with an inspiring reminder to – even in the midst of overwhelming trials past, present and future – simply be grateful for what we have. Not always an easy task today or ever, but the engaging journey Henrik lays out makes the concept quite palatable.
He launches Gratitude with a soulful, easy flowing and meditative reminder that we always have “Choices,” emphasizing his points with crisp, slow simmering guitar energy and hypnotic bubbling synth. Perhaps hinting about the ideal time of day to express thanks to God/The Universe, he infuses “Before Sunrise” with a reserved sense of awe created via a swirl of sweeping ambience, synth sparkle, an interwoven crying flute melody and some crackling static.
Along the way, Henrik opens things up conceptually so we can bring our own soul connections to pieces like the elegantly seductive “Another Spring” (featuring his most compelling interweave of sparse guitar and bubbling synth energy), the contemplative “I Receive” (with bird sounds complementing lush atmospheres, dancing piano and moody guitars) and the mystical, rollicking “Wide Open Space” – which he accesses via throbbing, tribal percussion and exotic flute excursions.
Other delights include the visceral, rhythmic “Hummingbirds” (which simulates their jaunty flights via high register piano tinkling) and the prayerful title track, a piano centered dreamscape featuring many of the sonic textures he adds throughout.
Listen to Gratitude here: https://open.spotify.com/album/29sI4IFfWJrO0f0MRIfa8I