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Label & Cat.Number: Helen Scarsdale Agency HMS030
Release Year: 2015
Note: "Rarely one meets an artist so coherent in churning out recordings that systematically challenge the listener to an authentic analysis of the self." [Massimo Ricci]; MC only release by Drone Rec. artists JIM HAYNES from San Francisco, the sounds are based on 'hot-wired strobe lights' mainly, combined with shortwave radio sounds and 'psychic disturbance'...pure inscrutable 'Geräuschmusik' with low fi noises, pulses, cut-ups, raw hummings, perfect for a MC release!
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €9.00
More Info"Scarlet is an album of extreme electro-acoustics built from hot-wired strobe-lights and wire-tapping microphones. I've made attempts at rhythm in the past, but here I throw caution to the wind with numerous variations on the noise-pulse theme. I debuted a variation on this work at The Grey Area Foundation For The Arts at the end of the summer of 2014, when I had the privilege of opening for Tim Hecker. I continued that line of research in the studio with 9 completed pieces to show for my labor. Eight of those appear on the Scarlet cassette; and the ninth is a separate video piece which has now been co-opted with the 18 Films Of Ted Serios project.
The jagged and torn electronics of Scarlet seemed well suited to the cassette medium." [label info]
"Rarely do you get a press sheet about a record that so perfectly puts into words what you’re really about to hear as the one that I received for Jim Haynes’ Scarlet tape. Actually, it’s exactly the text which got me so hooked to one of the two most recent The Helen Scarsdale Agency records, and I mean way before I even received and played it. With powerful collocations of electroacoustic shock, the label has skillfully prepared its listeners for the impressive noise work that I was about to experience.
Scarlet is the result of a very peculiar setup and experiment. All of the sounds that are found on the tape (and the following video) were captured during a series of strobe lights firing in the very storage house of The Helen Scarsdale Agency. The tools of choice that documented the sound were wiretapping mikes and shortwave radio; the video, on the other hand, was tracked by a surveillance camera.
However, what you’ll find on the tape is a variation of what you see above (which was itself presented at San Francisco’s Grey Area Foundation for the Arts). The atmosphere is very similar nonetheless. The fact that you’re deprived of visual distractions makes the tape especially strong and impressive, and I’d still prefer to experience that work only with my ears. Scarlet is made out of micro-noises—both impulse-like and/or droning—and rhythmic figures that are themselves made of cracks and defects, which slowly multiply and expand in complex soundscapes. Clearly nothing stays still on this record for even a second.
The record is an indeed interesting electroacoustic experiment. It is actually less shocking and extreme than what I was promised in the press sheet, but it’s still very diverse and twistedly captivating. Scarlet sounds very naturally structured and exists away from the usual pretentiousness of sound art documentations. It’s very interesting how Jim Haynes was able to create something which is so noisy and cold, yet feels so much like music. One of the best aspects of Scarlet is the environment in which it was recorded, which is very present in the recording. It makes the album an intimate experience, as if you’re in Helen Scarsdale’s storage house yourself.
And the length… If you follow my writings, you’ll often come across the remark that I find it hard to endure longer records, especially noise ones; to me, time usually kills an album’s power—that very primal emotion that usually makes it something more. But I somehow enjoyed Scarlet for longer, almost violently stretching to its length of I-actually-don’t-know-how-many-minutes-exactly. Surely you can sense the exhaustion—piling up throughout the tape and leading to a total emotional implosion—a raw one that somehow simultaneously leaves you calm.
I’m left with really mixed feelings about the overall impact this tape had on me. It was sometimes unnerving, with voice-like frequencies present like ghosts in the mix. Sometimes Scarlet was almost soothing, because after a while you get comfortably nested in the noises capes. Sometimes it was intense; not too intense, mind you, and certainly more nervous than extreme, but still strong and convincing. Keeping in mind that the concept and setup are closer to a sound-art piece than to an actual music-writing process, it’s really impressive how musical Scarlet ended up being.
Did I mention the packaging and the artwork? The album contains some nice photographic works with perfectly chosen colors, all of which are printed on a very thick paper. Scarlet is an art-piece that has been made with a lot of taste and skill with an equally strong concept as its foundation. Scarlet is an album whose surprising complexity didn’t become an obstacle for its accessibility." [Angel S./Heathen Harvest]
"By scattering around propagations of distressing sonic detritus, Jim Haynes never betrays when it comes to ignite scathing psychological responses. Accordingly, Scarlet may very well be his strongest statement to date in terms of “proportionate derangement”. The origins of what we hear are often indiscernible under thick layers of digital waste, most changes of scenario as consistently sharp as repeated shocks. The hired frequencies pound, grate, bubble detrimentally and settle down – briefly – in a composite of radiation and transmittance. Symptoms of an internal fight between the motivation to survive and the gradual degradation of the useless are conveyed. Disembodied voices carry signals of despair linked to a painful change of integrity; cold morsels of unspoken dilapidation render the acoustic premises even more foreboding.
At least three tracks should be singled out across the overall depth of this work, which in any case should be absorbed as a continuum. “Racine To Vermillion” is disrespectful towards any misconception related to stasis, in spite of several chunks of apparent trance. “Kazanlăk” and “Pfennig M.” leave no room for regret: pungent-smelling vacuums annihilating presumed nirvanas, frightening intransigence, harrowing uncertainty, ultimate hurt, definitive silence. Colors fade, presages rise inside: we’re almost ready to get snatched from the jaws of a grinning daily falsity.
Rarely one meets an artist so coherent in churning out recordings that systematically challenge the listener to an authentic analysis of the self. At the margins of a cynical awareness of the infertility incidental to all theistic theories, Haynes points us to a severity of approach which takes into account just everything, from illusion to failure via a hypothetical heavenly truth. In actuality, he merely mashes the remnants of man-conceived cosmic bullshit to distill the essence of a genuine animist perception." [Massimo Ricci / touching extemes]
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