Coelacanth
Mud Wall
CD HMS 003

Foxy Digitalis
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.