Throttle & Calibration
Cassette HMS 040
My first encounter with the work of Jim Haynes (the musician, not the writer who rose to a degree of cult prominence in the 1960s) came when The Decline Effect landed with me in 2011. Haynes' territory is the dark, the ambient, the subterranean, but Throttle and Calibration is an altogether harsher work, which emerged from Haynes' 2015 residency at MoKS in Estonia, where he would collaborate with and contribute to Simon Whetham's Active Crossover series.
As the blub accompanying the release on the label's website explains, "Throttle and Calibration is the first in a series of albums that find Haynes digging through the Active Crossover archive and grotesquely exaggerating the details into exploded compositions of volatile dynamics, nerve-exposed dissonance, caustic shortwave signal abuse, and a considerable amount of scarred metal. Marked as one of the more discordant works to date in Haynes' career, Throttle and Calibration finds company near the atonal compositions from Hermann Nitsch and the sour, industrial collages that pock the Nurse With Wound catalogue. Previously released digitally on Crónica, Throttle & Calibration is fleshed out with an additional 20 minutes of material.” This time around, the augmented digital release is also accompanied by a cassette edition. But, sadly, no vinyl, and no CD. Sadly because
As the blurb which accompanies the release intimates, discordant is it, and Throttle and Calibration does, most certainly, slot into the space where industrial and avant-garde intersect, and this reissue, expanded to eight tracks from the original five, is an essential work within its field. The album finds Haynes in exploratory mode, and he delves deep into the granular elements of sound over the course of this challenging work.
A long, buffeting rumble, like a distant train or the sound of wind on a mountain-top (if there is no-one there to hear it, does the wind still roar around the rocks?) is the first sound. The harrowing bleakness is but short-lived. Explosive blasts of noise rip and tear like detonations, atmosphere and ear-shredding eruptions. Small sonic ruptures are rendered at such volume and intensity as to inflict sensory and psychological.
What exactly is this? The Arctic wind ripping through an empty water tower? Or the apocalypse? It could be either, and may be both. It's disorientating as well as full-on. Throttle & Calibration is an album which places sound under the microscope, so to speak. It's not microtonal, but it is microcosmic, at least on the one hand. But in placing its focus on a small corner of the scene, Haynes then blows it up to A3 and zooms in 500%. The effect is terrifying, bewildering, intense, and the results are immense. In Haynes' hands, mundane sounds are reforged and take on sinister dimensions. His addressing them from alternative perspectives – up close, amplified – is the key to building a new understanding.
A quiet rattle is annihilated by a roar which melts all definition into a whirling multitextural aural vortex in "Tabula Rasa,” and over the course of the album, Haynes repeatedly drags the listener through a succession of vertiginous sonic sinkholes. Single impacts – origins unknown and undisclosed – resonate and decay slowly n heavy atmosphere. The spoken word introduction to "It Doesn't Matter” sets an eerie tone, but this again is devastated in a tinnitus-inducing wall of screeding noise worthy of Merzbow at his most brutal.
takes time and focus to peer through the harsh noise to discern the textures. Like stepping into the dark from a brightly-illuminated interior space, it takes time to recalibrate the senses. There are quieter passages, but they're no less intense and no lighter in tone. Ominous monotone drones and hums hang for aeons; time is suspended in space.
Neither the full-throttle abrasion nor the shady, moody spells of dank mental torture offer anything by way of respite or levity: Jim Haynes is an artist who dwells in darkness and creates work that ranges from the darkest greys to the pitchest of blacks. Throttle & Calibration stands at the darker, more violent end of the spectrum. Uncomfortable unpleasant, and unforgiving, it's a well-realised plunge into the bowels of a new shade of, rendered from the terrains of the everyday. -- Christopher Nosnibor