After some purportedly uninteresting reasons for being pulled from the Root Strata production line, Jim Haynes' The Decline Effect finally sees the light of day via this stunning double long-player on Helen Scarsdale. It would have been hard for Ledesma and the crew over at Root Strata to top this. As with all HS releases, and especially the label's recent forays into vinyl, the care and detail continues to be well worth the humble rate of turnover.
I had the pleasure of seeing Haynes perform earlier this year in Vancouver, and in witnessing his tactics live I was able to peel back some of the mystery that's steeped in his sound world. This experience has proven helpful in deciphering for many of these sounds, while others will forever remain a mystery to these ears.
"Ashes", the opening track (and continued study of a commissioned piece for two films by Scott Hewicker), begins with the crackling of quick flame bursts akin to the closely mic'd sounds of lit matches that began Haynes' aforementioned live performance. A decompressed drone soon creeps into the mix and gives way to a brief but noisy mechanical churn. If this section isn't a direct homage to the opening moments of Nurse With Wound's 'Homotopy for Marie' than I don't know what is. At this point things really start to gel as Haynes introduces a cycling fan-like rumination that carries a myriad of low to mid-range drones. It all builds up and fuels the sinister storm that is the piece's climax.
A similar development characterizes "Terminal", the B side, which is perhaps the best example of the necessity to allow works like these to develop over extended durations. Evidently, this notion is something Haynes has come to recognize about his work, and its all the better for it. The piece takes its name from the Terminal Geyser, one of many geysers and thermal vents recorded and later configured from Lassen Volcanic National Park. The track bubbles and hisses in a sea of fissures and underwater pops while skating along a subtly fluctuating stream. Things turn especially interesting near the side's finale as Haynes takes a magnifying glass to some of the more active vents, and chooses to funnel the calmed stream into waters far more cacophonous.
Record number two begins with the cut "Half-Life". Compared to the other tracks, far less is written about this one on the inner sleeve. What is stated is that it's something to the effect of an approximation of radioactive decay through electromagnetism. That doesn't tell us much, other than it seems in line with themes that have resonated with Haynes for a while. In reality, this sounds like classic Jim Haynes: mechanical post-techno rudiment, spectral interference, and depressurized ambience in the form of brooding windswept drones.
The Decline Effect closes with the immaculately realized "Cold", a track that ebbs and flows through open space via shortwave radio, tapped wire errata, and various field recordings. Everything is swathed in the signature Haynesian decay, that's felt right through to the final wave of static-laden noise and onward towards the album's decline...
...or something to its effect. So good.
Jim Haynes : Ashes : from "The Decline Effect" by Helen Scarsdale