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Telegraphy By The Sea
The Helen Scarsdale Agency, 2006

Press Release:

"I prefer to abstract recorded sounds to the point that I can't remember how I made them," says rust-tinged artist Jim Haynes. "This way I can't go back and reverse engineer anything." The source material for Telegraphy by the Sea spans four years and several continents. During the time between conception and completion, Mr. Haynes perfected fragments of the album in numerous contexts, including an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia, a marathon six-hour performance at the Diapason Gallery in New York City, and a fortuitous encounter with a rainy stairwell. Mr. Haynes submitted an early version of the album to sound artist Giancarlo Toniutti, who provided caustically constructive -- yet graciously enthusiastic -- criticism, sending him back to toil away in the depths of his sonic workshop for two more years before emerging, blinking in the harsh light of day and drastically higher gas prices, with the finished product clutched in his battered, grime-stained hands. As a result of this process, Mr. Haynes has forged a breathtaking album of mangled field recordings and droning techniques perched at the allegorical intersection of electromagnetic landscapes and meteorological phenomena. Here, it is not uncommon to find exasperated blasts of air bellowing in harmony with a swarm of mechanical locusts and a tumbling landslide of jagged rock. Yet Mr. Haynes grounds the bulk of the album in a dynamic play of sinusoidal drones. At times, these timbral flutterings waver into asymmetrical smears of holy-minimalist splendor; at others, monolithic grey slabs of drone collapse upon themselves into turbulent oceanic currents. If comparisons must be made, perhaps Telegraphy By The Sea parallels William Basinski at his most fortified or The Hafler Trio at his least arcane.'


"A more dramatic affair than its understated predecessor Magnetic North, this second solo album by sound artist and Wire contributor Haynes finds him spinning field recordings and metallic overtones into an endlessly shifting web of sound. Haynes is such a patient artist, presiding over his materials with great restraint and loving attention to detail, and very carefully allowing them to react with each other. His skill in allowing these elements to combine and metamorphose is so deft that it wasn't until I was about 30 minutes in that I realised how dense and abrasive the music had become. Then, with an uncharacteristic abrupt shift, the tone switches to something calmer and more sensual. This final stretch, a montage of billowing gong harmonics and snatches of shortwave speech, is luminously beautiful, surpassing even his superb collaborations with Loren Chasse in their Coelacanth project." Keith Moline / The Wire

"San Francisco-based composer and multimedia installation artist Jim Haynes quite vividly describes his methodology as one of "rust"; to rust, that is, as a verb. Certainly the sonic equivalents to rust, decay and dereliction are at the heart of his sound art. Beyond the quite beautiful hand-pressed limited edition packaging, Telegraphy By The Sea on CD contains nearly an hour of crackling static, shifting drones, sibilant hissings, and plaintive cries that sound part machine, part avian. The overall effect might make one think of some vast industrial zone slipping slowly into the organic processes of a primeval swamp, or of oceans rising slowly and gently in a gray, destructive - yet oddly alluring - haze. Of course, the strength of sonic art like this often lies in its very ambiguity: What I hear will most likely not be what you hear. And Haynes's own particular strength lies in his tactile sense of sound as object. These sounds are not textures or tints so much as they are actual materials: they seem worked and wrought: scraped, polished; welded, hammered; pounded, dented, broken. There is a section late in the piece where lovely, harmonically consonant and hollowly radiant drones give way to broken fields of short-wave radio transmission: nearly incomprehensible voices speaking, all but lost in the ratio of signal to noise. The sudden, albeit distant, revelation of something like human communication arrives like an epiphany. But as it continues, the epiphany is eventually subsumed into enigma and ambiguity once again. A powerful shift of perception has occurred. It's perceptive shifts like this, along with that messy, noisy, alluring gray haze, that make me want to return to Telegraphy By The Sea and listen yet again." -- Kevin Macneil Brown / Dusted

"Beautifully packaged and executed minimalist drone from this established San Francisco artist, Telegraphy by the Sea is the second solo album put out by this under-rated sound destructor. Jim Haynes might be more known for his work as one half of Coelacanth (with the inimitable Loren Chasse), as well as one of five participants in the construction of The Sleeping Moustache. Add to that a good deal of writing for The Wire and a good deal of creating visual works of art (some of which grace this simple yet elegant package), and you would wonder why you haven't heard more about Jim Haynes. Well, one answer could be that his music has hypnotized you into forgetting everything about him and his existence. The monstrous hour long track's reverberating waves could easily wash away all outside thought as you sink down into the ocean of white noise and distant ringing. Using mangled field recordings, ones that Haynes himself admits to demolishing to the point of no return, he constructs what could only be described as a sound recording of what the electromagnetic sphere above the Earth must sound like. It is a frightening collection of sweeping tones and metallic flutters, a singing bowl the size of the Earth, being played with a rusty knife blade. A four-year project, Telegraphy by the Sea is a monolithic piece that thankfully takes several turns over its hour journey. Haynes has constructed a work comparable to the best of Basinski and even the most stunning of aquatic ambient albums Gavin Bryars' Sinking of the Titanic. With only five hundred of this CD around, you should do yourself a favor and sink into this blissful oblivion." -- Grant Capes / Foxy Digitalis

"Those familiar with Jim Haynes' informed comments on leftfield electronica in The Wire will know by now where he's coming from and whose music he likes – think Nurse With Wound, Hafler Trio, William Basinski, and the sound artists whose work has appeared on the Helen Scarsdale imprint (Matt Waldron, BJ Nilsen, Loren Chasse..) – but in case you're not familiar with Haynes' work with Chasse on Coelacanth, Telegraphy By The Sea shows he's just as good at making music as he is at writing intelligently about it. It's a huge sprawling piece, nearly an hour long (in fact there's an installation of the same name that lasts six hours, which Haynes performed at the Diapason Gallery in New York, some of whose rough recordings found their way into this condensed version), full of the sonic rust Haynes is so good at scraping off his source sounds. Huge swathes of grimy drone are sprinkled with grainy shortwave static hiss and carefully twisted into shape to form an imposing, even intimidating sound shipwreck. "The title is mostly poetic," writes Haynes, "with occasional references to communication technology found in the use of shortwave throughout the composition. There's plenty of water recordings in the piece, but my memory is foggy as to whether they're recordings of the Pacific Ocean or not. The album seems to locate itself for me somewhere north of San Francisco, on a craggy coastal tract of land dappled with telephone wires, cellphone towers, etc. A barren place, but one that has the fingerprints of technology smeared across the landscape." Ah, remind me to play it late at night walking down to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Ever seen The Fog? That's where it was filmed, as I recall. Found this while snooping around Google: "Because of incessant wind and fog on Point Reyes in some seasons, the Point Reyes Lighthouse was plagued by 'incidents of insanity, alcoholism, violence, and insubordination,' notes a publication of the National Park Service, which now owns the lighthouse. One lighthouse keeper even took to drinking the alcohol shipped for cleaning the lens and 'was often seen lying drunk by the roadside,' the Park Service publication added." Telegraphy would be the perfect soundtrack. If this had come out under the Nurse With Wound moniker, you'd have heard about it by now for sure." -- Dan Warburton / Paris Transatlantic