Jim Haynes - The Decline Effect 2xLP
Label: Helen Scarsdale Agency
Another amazing excursion into the sound of decay from Californian sound artist Jim Haynes, this time in the form of four sprawling sidelong epics. Each is its own self contained soundworld, culled from various field recordings, vibrating strings and other sonic errata. It's easy to get lost in these strange lands of decay and declines.
The A side was originally a commissioned soundtrack for a pair of films that screened at the Hauntology exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum in 2010. The smoldering slow moving "Ashes" does evoke a certain haunted, sonic dread. The core of the sound is of course the drone, but that drone is pulled taut, and the sound seems to fray as the track progresses, shedding sonic detritus in the form of fractured melodies, strange clicks and muted buzz. At times, this begins to sound like perhaps Haynes' most overtly musical record. Yet, that musicality is eventually picked apart and the remaining elements litter the landscape like bits of some sonic wreckage. The sound is truly beautiful, whether a deep sonorous drone or a lush layered stretch of celestial shimmer.
Named for the performance space at which the piece was debuted, "Terminal" is sourced from field recordings of geysers and thermal vents, playing out like some obscure scientific document, unearthed from some dusty box filed away in a warehouse or chronicling a lost expedition. The sound blossom in texture and depth, as if more sounds were introduced and then layered or woven into one another, streaked with a blurred hiss. The white noise of eruption balanced by the hushed murmur of calm before and after.
Side three finds Haynes exploring radioactive decay. We'd like to think these are the recordings of Strontium or Uranium, with the radioactivity causing the tape to warp and curdle; but in fact, it's more likely an assemblage of intercepted short wave broadcasts with lush chordal swells washing over strange effects, muted glitches, lush tones and surprisingly dreamy overtones. Geiger counter like clicks coalesce into an almost-rhythm, while the surrounding sounds seem to lose cohesion, all bleeding into one another and drifting like blackened clouds of whir and thrum.
And finally, the last movement in this crumbling sonic tetraptych is the wire recording sourced "Cold", in which Haynes captures the sympathetic buzz of wires and plays them like some sort of abstract harp within a huge stone room, with metal wires running across in wild tangles. Haynes at the center, wildly bowing and striking wires, creating this delicate crystalline symphony, another blurred buzzscape, that peppers the lush layered shimmer, with creaks and clatter, skitter and crunch, but those errant sounds are quickly subsumed by the warm whirls of hushed bleary drift and an unexpected eruption of caustic blown out noise, a psychedelic squall that acts as the record's coda, before the inevitable decline, the sound slipping into nothingness. Gorgeous stuff.