HMS003 CD Helen Scarsdale

October 2004
reviewed by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

The San Francisco duo of Loren Chasse and Jim Haynes, working under the name of a prehistoric fish once thought to be extinct, have discovered a lost spell for slowing down time and unlocking the voices of things that stand still.

The single hour long track on Mud Wall is an index of ephemeral phenomena expanding and contracting, breathing in and out. Contact microphones rubbed on the earth create a resonant glow. Empty jars of glass, bits of wood, and sheets of rusted metal are sought after for sound, not played like instruments. This is not music so much as ritual. I can't shake the images from Tarkovsky's Stalker when listening to this CD. A post WWIII world brought to life by objects that on their own don't imply the apocalypse: abandoned cars run over in a field of grass and an empty warehouse flooded with rusty water. Something in the way the actors move around and through them electrify their presence and fill the space with a spiritual resonance.

The dark browns and vibrating whites on Mud Wall are drawn out of the everyday by the body movements of Chasse and Haynes. They investigate small sounds that are more like secrets, quietly discovering what's on the surface of a rock or hidden in a block of ice. They hear lost voices picked up in ultraviolet lights. The history of the world being transmitted in slow motion through shortwave. Chasse and Haynes are time travelers, and Mud Wall is a document of their travels. A snapshot of a netherworld in the distant future. The slow downed movements of a prehistoric past. Or maybe one of the forgotten worlds that Borges has brought to life in a dream.