HMS003 CD Helen Scarsdale
reviewed by Lee Jackson
Coelacanth, the duo of Loren Chasse and Jim Haynes, weaves a
graceful but chaotic tone spell on Mud Wall, where the
natural environment literally becomes the instrument of choice
in a piece that's equal parts studio abstraction and metaphorical
representation. As do many sound sculptors today, the duo largely
draws its noise from processed recordings of a variety of natural
objects and occurrences (copper, stone, glass, sand, rust, wind,
water, mud are all employed) to arrive at some of the most vividly
alive sound dreams to emanate from the Jewelled Antler related
substrata yet (or at least since the last Thuja album).
Presented as one 60 min track separated into three parts, Mud
Wall begins with the serene drone hums and isolated, echoed
drips. Steady low tones murmur on an ascending slope; a barely
audible bell rings before a dense, layered wash of sound settles
in a breathing pool from which ancient formations slowly rise
and gently subside. The wind is another vivid participant, suggesting
the transcendental sound sculptor of Mirror's minimal classic
Eye of the Storm, though this is drawn with a busier,
more tangled brush.
It's tempting to hear this album as a fairly static, cluttered
work on first listens, but closer examination reveals something
much more cavernous and carefully designed with layer upon layer
of ancient elements appearing and disappearing as surreal tonal
juxtapositions. From the liners: "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." For at least
an hour, I can hear it too.
Coelacanth delivers the kind of aural meditation that reveals
itself incrementally, making Mud Wall fertile ground
for repeatedly exploring the preternatural nuances of the most
concrete of realities.