Much can be told about the perpetually riveting work of Jim Haynes. Aside from the (by now shopworn) references to rust, corrosion and decay, what stands as truly relevant in the bulk of Haynes’ soundscapes is the oppositeness of environmental cruelty – in turn generating a sense of barren inevitability – and healthiness of frequencies born from a disturbing materiality. The artist unintentionally applies Frank Zappa’s hypothesis of “conceptual continuity”, but not by reiterating stories or themes throughout his output. More simply, from a release to another the man is capable of systematically subjecting the listener’s sentience to the gradual riddance of its useless appendages.
Accordingly, Flammable Materials From Foreign Lands appears as a long, honest conversation with the self held across quickly deteriorating biological conditions. Through a scientific exercising of snippets of voices – with particular reference to the closing episode, the 20-minute “Electric Speech: Nadiya” – and typologies of frequency that literally erase the ego from our inner makeup, Haynes comes extremely close to the vision of pioneers such as Tod Dockstader. We’re not implying an explicit similarity in terms of sonority; rather, we think of the composer’s necessity to go beyond anything related to a remote concept of “public acceptance”. That is to say, unwrapping concealed dimensions of the acoustic matter for individuals tending to substantiate a precarious idea of “knowledge” amidst doubt and incertitude.
The dangers in this sort of operation are evident. When people face recordings conveying ill-tempered messages – most frequently under the clothes of so-called “noise” – they can choose to label what they hear as downright racket, sometimes to the point of ironically reducing the experience to a Halloween-like sick joke. Haynes, on the contrary, wipes out unwarranted hostility from the irregularity of radioactive sonorities, at the same time decreasing the air’s oxygen rate. That is the moment in which we, as humans, must transcend the level of mere “enjoyment of music” to enter the realms of controlled mental dissolution. This record is a potent solvent for that process: riddled with disquieting questions lacking the guarantee of a firm answer, deprived of aesthetic excuses masking the absence of a crucial purpose.