A good percentage of humans tend to dismiss eagerness. When a stranger strikes up a conversation at a random place, it’s a lot easier to feel comfortable with the situation if an external force caused the conversation to happen, or even necessitated it. I, myself, learned to be weary in this way when living in Fort Lauderdale, because when I first got there, I would walk down the street and within 10 minutes I’d have shelled out most of the cash in my pocket while almost getting in fights (which I would have lost in almost every case) with at least a couple of menacing street folk. I learned to face forward and ignore what was around me.
As a consequence, I don’t mind immersing myself in conversations with strangers as a rule, but it makes me feel more comfortable if it occurs on my own terms. A similar trend seems to affect my social relationships: If someone hangs around my desk all day wanting to talk, I resent it. On the other hand, a bitchin’ combination of good humor and workplace restraint might just cause me to head over to your desk (and thus I become the annoying guy, I suppose?).
Jim Haynes, a veteran and collaborator of Irr. App. (Ext.)’s and Steven Stapleton’s, treads a nice middle ground between eagerness and patient resolve on The Wires Cracked, compiling a measured, subtle case for his artistry rather than smearing his skills in your face, which is quite a feat considering its contents were put together during the Djerassi Residents Artist program in California. Listeners of the modern age, who are no doubt used to songs that pass the 10-minute mark, will remain engrossed for the duration, while amateurs won’t have to press “skip” or lift the turntable needle, either. Haynes’ goal is corrosion, as his known axiom attests: “I rust things.” His compositions on Cracked aren’t exactly falling off their hinges, but they do hold up to the axiom by resembling substances and memories degraded by time, defiled in a subtle way that transcends simple tape-hiss and noise piss.
Getting to know this triumvirate of tracks is never burdensome. “X-Ray” is the most convincing cut, because it instantly rushes the drainage-pipe-crawling listener like fast-approaching water, offering contradictory drones that sloooooowly take off like a jumbo jet after taxiing about for long enough to cause unease. Interspersed are flatlining bleeps, factory churns, and other elements that glide by like a dream and disappear like mist in a breeze. Also notable is the frosty “November,” a nearly 18-minute rip current that starts at shore and slowly drifts out to sea with all the certainty of the tide. A distant, high-pitched whine sounds like a siren above it all, as the ocean is pelted by a light rain. Yet the rust is browning out the edges, eating through the gentle aural assurances like Coke dissolving a penny. It’s a neat trick, indeed, to group beauty and dark intrigue together and somehow render them separate enough to distinguish from one another, a soft-light approach to black masses of audio that retains the pleasing aspects of both sides of its coin. Don’t be a stranger…