HMS003 CD Helen Scarsdale

Brainwashed Volume 7, Issue 28
reviewed by Lucas Schleicher

Loren Chasse and Jim Haynes make a very strange breed of murmuring and throbbing music. Where other sound-sculptors might keep a consistently harmonious shift at work in their music in order to provide a sense of change and movement, these two are content with adding glitches, static, and faults to their instruments in order to affect a drift in the music that could be almost unnoticeably small, but might also turn out to be radical in degree. Mud Wall originally appeared on the Mystery Sea label in an edited form. Re-released by Helen Scarsdale with twenty additional minutes of music, it is a consistently alien and confusing recording. There runs throughout the duration of this one-track, fifty-eight minute record a noticeable hiss that becomes a bit annoying at times, but it also serves as the central element of the music and is about the only thing that holds the album together as a whole. Two distant points on the record share a similar trait: the sound of jewelry or glass rolling about in a jar. Outside of these few elements, Mud Wall sounds like a bit of muddled sound-collage to me. This is part of what makes the record so confusing. I know that, at certain points, the music suddenly shifts direction and introduces a new sound to focus on, but that sound always seems to succumb to the hiss that is so aggravatingly omnipresent. Going back over the record and skipping in between various points in time, it is quite obvious that Coelacanth has a good variety of tones, found sounds, and strange samples that are strung together by a universal mystery. Something happens in between these sections of diversity, then, that make the album sound all too samey. This is another confusing aspect of this record: I didn't like it at first, its immovable and fixed nature simply didn't appeal to me the way other droned-out records did. I listened to it twice, anyways. By the time I'd become frustrated with myself for not being able figure out what disliked about this record, I'd probably gone through the record ten times. A few more listens and I was able to pick out the small details that weren't so quickly obvious. And here I sit now, wondering why it took so long to figure out the obvious. The different sections of this record are, in hindsight, obvious. No matter how many times I repeat that to myself the music ends up feeling too monotone by the end of the album. The actual process of listening to the music turns everything into a homogenous wall of sound where very few heterogeneous elements can stand out. Knowing now what my source of displeasure has been, it's hard for me to not recommend the music. The trick the music played on my head through subsequent listens was frustrating, but it was also entertaining enough to keep me listening and to keep me finding new elements on the record. There's a fantastic series of ideas or quotes that serve as liner notes and one of them is particularly descriptive of the music: "I can describe it in no other way than this: in that moment, I was certain there were ancient forces listening... in a silence like fossils." The silent transitions and changes on this record can only barely hide that there is something more happening behind the inertia.