1. Virgo (After Black Bloc) 2. As We Spiral Backwards 3. A Drowning 4. ...and the Flowers Fall
format: CD in DVDBOX ltd. 500
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"Ununtrium's Daughter is a very personal album for me, and that sentiment probably comes more from the context out of which this album was made. With the benefit of critical distance, I can still say that this album is a somber one. That was certainly a mood prevalent during the compositional process; and ghosts of that emotional state seem to resonate within the four interlinked pieces. Ununtrium is a synthetic, highly radioactive element with an atomic number of 113; but it may not this element's name for long, as this name is merely a temporary placeholder until the powers that be come up with something better. Much of what is known about this element is the stuff of scientific prediction as this substance is very unstable and difficult to create in the first place. Ununtrium itself becomes an allegory for an existential transitory state of self-disintegration through which the subject is painfully aware of its accelerating collapse furthered by the anxiety of its identity being stripped at the any time or whim.
Most signals that transmit through these compositions have already lapsed into their shadows, ghosts and echoes even before I began to work them into these chorales of electricity. But a few of them speak of their former lives, or at least have some interesting poetic allusions. "Virgo" came to fruition through a very brief field recording that I captured before my batteries died of a huge piece of plate glass that had been shattered during a Black Bloc splinter riot in San Francisco, 2012. The glass itself held its form but was groaning under its own weight through a filigree of delicate crackles. This is but one sound in this piece, yet it spawned many of its neighboring forms. Ultrasound recordings of a diesel locomotive punctuate "As We Spiral Backwards" with these microsonic rasps and blurts emitted by a lonely, idling engine at the Port of Oakland. Sounds of a semi-successful attempt to record the tides of the Atlantic Ocean on the South Carolina shore through a long-thin wire vibrating in the churning currents are found on "…And The Flowers Fall." I might have gotten a better sampling but my recording session was shortened by an intrepid crustacean who sent me on my way with a sharp pinch on my toes. I got the message that I was no longer welcome.
If there are any comparisons I could make, I heard of Harold Budd's dark ambient masterpiece Abandoned Citieswhen I was composing this album at the beginning of 2013. Having no luck in finding it at that time, I wondered just how gothic and grotesque could Harold Budd get. This became my imagined homage to a recording I never heard. Let it be known that I did finally track down a copy of that album; and no, I didn't come close.
Make of this what you will. Ununtrium's Daughter is still a sad album."
Composed at the Helen Scarsdale Agency, her mobile laboratory, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program 2012-2013.
Jim Haynes calls Ununtrium’s Daughter “a very personal album, and a sad album”. Ununtrium is an extremely unstable element that is difficult to create and may break down at any moment; to add insult to injury, there’s a strong possibility that it may be renamed. On this album, the element is used as a metaphor.
The initial impetus was a peaceful San Francisco demonstration that turned into a riot. After the riot, Haynes picked up a piece of splintering plate glass and took it home to examine its resonant properties. There was nothing he could do to save the glass, so he did what he could; he saved the sound of its final throes. Clear corollaries abound: the bittersweet sharpness of a relationship just before it breaks, the silence before the doctor shares the bad news, the peaceful hopes about to be dashed as the first brick is tossed. In one thin moment, the march will be renamed a riot, the romance a mistake, the unsinkable ship a disaster.
One can fall in love with disaster. Given time, one may ruminate, obsess, see beauty in the broken. Follow this path for too long, and one may lose one’s way. Haynes seems to have pulled back from the brink just in time. After sampling the sounds of “a lonely, idling engine”, he visits the ocean, the world’s largest purveyor of advance and decay. And here he encounters “an intrepid crustacean”, an example of life biting back. What do crustaceans know of yearning, of melancholy, of dashed hopes? Probably very little. In this we are rare, if not unique. And yet the tendency to anthropomorphize may be one of our most humane qualities, because it relates well to empathy. The glass is dying, the engine is lonely. Hope is dying like fractured glass. Society is falling apart, yet continues on its path. Might one be driven to despair?
This is where art comes in. Art is a statement that things do not need to be the way they have always been. By extrapolation, an original work of art – in this case, 45 minutes of static, sample and drone, a miasma of metal, sand and glass – becomes a declaration of belief. To reposition sound is also to reposition thought. One may not follow the other, but it could. To encounter the first is to reaffirm the possibility of the second. To the artist, Ununtrium’s Daughter is a sad album. But if an album rescues sad sounds from oblivion, does it not then earn the opposite term?