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The Decline Effect
The Helen Scarsdale Agency, 2011

Press Release:

"Parapsychology introduced the notion of the decline effect as a statistical phenomenon of diminishing results whilst investigating extra-sensory perception and psychokinesis. Where initial findings might substantiate proof of such abilities, further studies would almost always demonstrate the contrary. As such, this ontological disappearing act stands in allegorical parallel to the entropic art of Jim Haynes and frames his 2011 opus of the corroded drone and a compacted disintegration of sound. This San Francisco Bay Area artist has long defined his work through the pithy phrase: "I rust things." The Decline Effect continues his investigations with electroacoustic decay through four bodies of evidence left behind from ephemeral aktions, shipwrecked electronics, re-engineered field recordings, and transmissions from the ether. Haynes composes through all of these sources through a patient suturing of sympathetic elements, whether they be textural, tonal, visceral, heavenly, sodden, or monolithic. Here, embers foretelling a nuclear winter gently waft upon industrial chorales amassed from an army of fidgeting motors; the sulfur-laden hiss from volcanic vents erupts from an organic thrum into boiling crescendos of environmental noise; geiger counter palpitations stream along a leaden sea of modulated radio noise; a warm explosion of sun-bleached distortion caresses the evanescent halos from an undulating mesmerism inexplicably not sourced from a guitar and / or digital patch authored by Christian Fennesz. On The Decline Effect, Haynes' broken minimalism orbits somewhere near the work Joe Colley, The Hafler Trio, Nurse With Wound, and BJ Nilsen."


"'I rust things.' This pithy statement of purpose by San Francisco Bay Area artist Jim Haynes (also the director of the non-profit sound art organization 23five) opens the doors to an understanding of his approach and work, the latest example of which is documented in a double-album vinyl set packaged in a beautiful gatefold sleeve (limited to 350 copies). Electroacoustic soundsculpting of a resolutely uncompromising and experimental kind, Haynes' recording uses decay and corrosion as springboards for four long-form settings birthed from broken electronics, shortwave radio static, contact microphones, tape decay, controlled feedback, textural scrapings, and manipulated field recordings. While his is an entropic art centering on notions of collapse and disintegration, it's also one rich with ravishing detail and as such commands one's attention for the full measure of its seventy-six minutes. "Ashes" presents twenty minutes of crackling embers, corrosive textures, and grinding machine noise through which a droning swarm threads itself. Advancing and receding throughout, the droning mass exudes a ghostly character, and appears never more haunted than when the muffled murmur of voices moves to its forefront during the piece's second half. Ghostlier still is "Cold," in which Haynes uses harmonics and overtones from various wire recordings to create a spacious, hollowed-out meditation—until, that is, the relative quietude is disrupted by a stabbing smear of distortion and grime that sounds like it could have originated from a guitar. An intended approximation of radioactive decay, "Half-Life" adds a rhythm dimension to the recording in the form of a geiger counter-generated gallop that quietly trots alongside an ongoing stream of cavernous whooshes and crystalline creaks. Sourced in part from thermal vents and geysers at Lassen Volcanic National Park, "Terminal" concentrates on gurgles and hiss for its first eight minutes, after which the hiss abruptly falls away and then returns at varying levels of intensity, sometimes so forcefully it drowns out the geological activity, until the collective mass reaches a climactic broil. As should be patently obvious, the four sides offer a diverse wealth of sound, with pretty much all of it sourced from natural and industrial realms rather than conventional instrumentation. It hardly surprises that, before turning to sound art, Haynes was a visual artist whose works incorporated materials such as wood, paper, metal, photographs, and glass. Of especial note is the fact that he grew sensitive to the decaying properties inherent in photography and thus transposed that sensitivity into other areas in order to explore entropy in general and the relationship between time and erosion. For Haynes, transformation and thus decay are both omnipresent and inevitable, if largely invisible to the naked eye, and his works address such themes at multiple levels—literally, in the settings' ever-mutating surfaces, and conceptually, too. In these four pieces, Haynes finds the beauty in decomposition and translates it into a soundsculpting style that's uniquely his." --

"Picture your body floating miles below the ocean surface, in an enormous, sunken hull, the pressure of the water coupled with the vastness of the deep. You've just entered this masterful drone/dark ambient work by sound artist Haynes. His motto is apparently "I rust things," and within that context, he creates impossibly large resonant spaces, the clutter of ambient noises, treated samples, field recordings, and stray patches of barely-heard melodic statements serving as the elements of decay. I think the big difference here from most records in the purely ambient headspace is that Haynes isn't looking to make music, but instead create experiential sound compositions a la Nurse With Wound. He turns the time spent in this environment into another presence in the room, as it applies pressure and uncertainty on the listener and taking on disturbing sentient qualities. Four sidelong pieces, absolutely terrifying with the lights out – parts of this are the closest I've heard to M.B. in terms of process and just how goddamned unctuous this all sounds. So when you find a sea urchin down in that hull the size of EPCOT Center, it casually impales you on one of its tines and slurps you down as your corporeal form dissolves, and your spirit is locked inside the blob of flesh and organ that comprises its insides, you won’t be as surprised because you’ll know what it sounds like for that to happen. Well-designed matte gatefold, 350 copies." -- Doug Mosurock / Still Single

"When all seems lost, and the faith in the sanative attributes of a drone-based album dwindles because of too many broken illusions generated by pathetic imitators, here comes good old Jim Haynes with a double LP to save the day and reset the bar at a much higher height. Divided in four parts, respectively titled "Ashes", "Terminal", "Half-Life" and "Cold", The Decline Effect sounds like the incubation of an awareness of endangerment. Yet its playscript has been developed in such a way that the terminology used for the titles – which a normal person can’t help but associate to death – contrasts quite jarringly with the mind-fortifying qualities of a music that is destined to stay within ourselves for long. The transubstantiation of concrete matter into psychologically affecting phenomena lies at the basis of Haynes’ vision, intuitions becoming certainties during extended periods of aural staring. Various levels of modification give us no chance to accurately determine the processes behind these impressive concoctions of ominous crumbling, hissing exhalations, subsurface trembling and vaporized miasmas. One realizes about the presence of liquids, everyday objects, mechanized devices and other elements that – in the composer’s plan – are just means to describe transitions. Scenes of urban bleakness gradually dissolve while forms of majestic decrepitude, condensed resonances and treated metals conjure up haunting hymns to despair. Right there you realize that this is a mere starting point for a thorough reassessment of the self, and the frequencies that appeared so threatening are now escorting the ascension to uncharted areas of the cognitive system." -- Massimo Ricci / Touching Extremes

"Notion introduite en parapsychologie, l’effet déclin implique l’idée que le pouvoir des médiums faiblit au fur et à mesure du temps – et qu’à long terme, chaque contrôle de leurs capacités démontre un peu plus la faiblesse de leurs résultats. Bien que mystérieuse au béotien total que je suis dans le domaine, la théorie offre toutefois l’avantage non négligeable de jeter un regard intéressant sur le présent double LP de Jim Haynes. Artiste originaire de la baie de San Francisco, il développe le long de quatre longues séquences (75 minutes au total) un continuum sonore d’une belle acuité, quelque part en marge de Fennesz et BJ Nilsen (notamment du magnifique ‘The Invisible City’ de l’électronicien suédois). Tout le long des plages du vinyle, les rencontres fortuites se muent en accidents contrôlés – tels des acronymes familiers échafaudés sur des structures bruitistes entre musique concrète et electronica nappée. Visions d’orage ou butinages vivaces, échos de cascades au lointain ou ruptures de charges fantomatiques, le producteur californien développe un luxe de détails sonores assez rare – tout en s’accordant, quel luxe !, les minutes indispensables à la pleine réalisation de ses idées. Même si, en quelques instants plutôt rares, le temps s’écoule trop lentement à mon goût, la fréquentation de ‘The Decline Effect’ m’a paradoxalement remis sur une pente ascendante." -- Fabrice Vanoverberg / RifRaf