HMS003 CD Helen Scarsdale

Paris Transatlantic
October 2004
reviewed by Dan Warburton

Coelacanth, as well as being the name of a fish previously thought to be extinct, is a duo comprising what the press release fondly (and accurately) describes as "audio speleologists" Loren Chasse and Jim Haynes. Chasse's work with the Jewelled Antler collective, Thuja, The Blithe Sons and the Dielectric Minimalist All Stars will doubtless be familiar to many readers (if not, it ought to be, as he's certainly prolific enough), and Wire readers will no doubt have come across Haynes' astute writing on leftfield electronica and what that magazine delightfully calls "Outer Limits." Mud Wall is the pair's third outing (though a shorter version appeared on Mystery Sea), after last year's excellent The Glass Sponge on 23five and The Chronograph, also on Helen Scarsdale. Sourced from a performance the two men gave in 2002, it's just under an hour's worth of dark, churning sounds, many of which sound like they were recorded at the bottom of a mine shaft, or in a diving bell. Exactly what the source sounds are is hard to figure out - intentionally so, one imagines - which adds to the mystery and poetry of the experience. Talking of poetry, the disc comes with three square moss green cards, whose texts read, respectively: "I had seen it once before many years ago, rising suddenly before us from that inlay floor, set high in its surface", "Of glistening lines, shadowy pits and canals was a convexity - an amber bubble - behind which a light not of our afternoon, our world even, swam with shapes" and "I can describe it in no other way than this: in that moment, I was certain there ancient forces listening... in a silence like fossils." Voilà: I think that describes the experience better than I can do. Wear potholing helmets and carry breathing equipment in case of subsidence.