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Jim Haynes Kamchatka

by Richard Allen
March 2013

The Wires Cracked sounds exactly like its title. The album begins with the electronic equivalent of a sonic boom, and within seconds the listener is plunged into a dystopia of sputtering static, dropped messages and expired half lives. If wires could talk, these might scream of disruption, disconnection and destruction: a giant lizard rampaging through a metropolis, snapping wires and initiating sparks. Even the titles conjure images of an embattled soldier shouting into a misfunctioning walkie-talkie: "Oscar, X-Ray, November." The best way to play the album is to play it last; in other words, just before silence. This is the road to which all decay leads; the loss of ozone and oxygen, the end of resonance, a desolate space in which no sound can exist.

In the meantime, we have these sounds, and there is beauty in destruction, whether or not we admit it: the pile-up on the freeway, the warehouse destroyed by a frayed cord, the blue violence of metal in a microwave. In this world, entropy reigns. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Haynes provides sullen accompaniment, seeking to document as much as to score the descent of things, and by extension, people: misfired words, misunderstood letters, the end of relationships, the oaken box, the rusting urn. Those who experience loss in one arena may find solace in another: the cold comfort of things breaking down, appliances not working, electricity misdirected, each going out with a squeal or a pop or a slow, sad, whine. The universe may lack complicity, but it still operates in unintentional sympathy; in the temporal world, nothing lasts, neither knowledge nor nuclear waste.

If Haynes chooses to concentrate on the colder side of science: radio transmissions, cooling mechanisms, magnetism, metal screens, does this make him any less a field recording artist or soundscaper? As such artists seek to capture the resonances of a natural environment before it is destroyed by technological incursions, so Haynes seeks to capture the decay of the technological. The intruder is not always the oppressor, and inanimate sound has no intention; itís the warp and weft of life housed in the sonic construct of life, alive in impression while neutral in capacity. As such, such sounds become a tabula rasa for our own projections. Haynes feels empathy for that which cannot empathize, but in turn, as if by reciprocation, these sounds offer the possibility of understanding, an association that leads to repose.