HMS003 CD Helen Scarsdale

Dusted Magazine
reviewed by Charlie Wilmoth

The Bay Area-based Coelacanth is Loren Chasse of the Jewelled Antler Collective and Jim Haynes, an artist and a critic for The Wire. The duo's live shows often feature complex installations, but judging from their third recording Mud Wall, their music is intriguing enough without them.

How you hear Mud Wall will mostly depend on how loud it's playing. At a very low volume, it's an appliance blending in nicely with your air conditioner or refrigerator. Turn the volume up a bit, and you'll detect a trace of the textural improvisations of AMM, whose influence Coelacanth acknowledges. Play it loud and it could almost be an early electronic piece by Iannis Xenakis (though Mud Wall is never quite as aggressive as tha comparison suggests). With the volume up, Coelacanth's music is vaguely machine-like but coated in fuzz, composed of components that sound like they're straining to break out of the intricately stacked layers. These layers, along with a non-hierarchical approach to organization in which no individual part is designed to
stand out above the rest, give Mud Wall a depth that albums of its kind sometimes lack. It's possible to hear the album in a different way with each listen by focusing each time on different components.

The sounds Coelacanth uses, which range from concréte-like clangs to pitchless whooshes that sound like gale-force winds, are compelling, too: They're timbrally colorful without obviously sounding like anyone else. The pacing of Mud Wall also works well, as Coelacanth employs a variety of textures over the course of an hour-long work while still managing to shift smoothly from one to the next. Mud Wall is an excellent album of subtle and very human-sounding drones, and it fits in well alongside works by the best artists of Coelacanth's kind, such as AMM and Jason Lescalleet.