HAAi’s ascension into the limelight has been nothing short of meteoric. From holding down a mindbending Phonox residency to hosting radio shows for Worldwide FM (and a previous Rinse FM slot), HAAi’s versatility as a DJ is immediately apparent to all who experience her sets, seamlessly blending genres from all corners of the underground scene. Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Music, her first EP proper, is a phenomenally realised extension of her eclectic prowess behind the decks.
One of the defining aspects of HAAi’s production and DJ sets rests in her ear for percussion, and it’s clear that the world music from her Coconut Beats parties have shaped the way HAAi writes music. Favouring less traditional percussive breaks from all over the globe, HAAi puts these elements front and centre of her encapsulating club sound. Title track ‘Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Musik’ is essentially devised around a giddy percussive onslaught, building upon a dizzy tease of shimmering cymbals and vocal samples before unleashing an ungodly breakneck rhythm.
‘A phenomenally realised extension of HAAi’s eclectic prowess’
Much like her penchant for percussion, HAAi’s psychedelic influences seep deep into Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Music. Opening amidst a crackling fuzz of distortion and warped shimmers, ‘Your Disk Is Full’ is emblematic of the slow-release songwriting that features on past releases like ‘Feels’. It’s an atmospheric opener that almost mimics the opening sequence of Four Tet’s ‘Morning Side’, albeit with a metallic techno residue.
Bolstered by live drums from none other than Savage’s Fay Milton (2016’s Adore Life remains sublime), HAAi’s focus on live instrumentation becomes a separating feature that defines her from her peers. An addition that enhances the percussion-heavy techno HAAi veers towards, the incorporation of live drums offers a varied dynamic to a genre that frequently sticks to a purely digital realm. Also welcomed into the fray is Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen, who provides vocal work for ‘I Never Cared Too Much For Jungle’, a frantic concoction of psyche-tinged noise rock and a relentless beat that hints at HAAi’s past musical career in Dark Bells.
EP centrepiece, ‘Growing Up With Muscle Cars’, shares the tripped-out psyche tease of ‘Your Disk Is Full’ before delivering a beat devised to cause dancefloor nirvana. A juttering 10-minute epic that’s given ample room to breathe, HAAi excels in long builds that coax you into a frenzy. Written around a thumping breakbeat, ‘Growing Up With Muscle Cars’ is a prominent reminder that HAAi is, first and foremost, a club DJ. It’s almost impossible to listen to the swirling pads and relentlessly powerful breakbeat without wishing you were experiencing it through the Funktion One soundsystem on the Phonox dancefloor. An emotionally transportive experience, ‘Growing Up With Muscle Cars’ is a moment reserved for the apex of any set; a meditative exploration of club culture that shares the wonderous excitement and musical voyage of every memorable night out.
Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Music is a remarkably nuanced evolution from HAAi’s early work that combines all the traits that make her an exceptional DJ into the songwriting process. Rewarding builds, prominent percussion and a delirious club sound meet in a unique sweet spot; one that blends genres and styles whilst maintaining an intensity crafted for the dancers. It’s HAAi’s first project that feels meticulously realised, aided by refinements such as the introduction of live components into the mix. But more than that, Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Music is characteristic of how it feels to experience a HAAi set. Motorik Voodoo Bush Doof Music is a genre-bending odyssey that traverses down less traditional paths, strengthened by HAAi’s background in psychedelia, love for tribal world rhythms and a deep understanding of the foreboding techno that the punters crave.
Image: HAAi / Coconut Beats