Jeph Jerman – For Henry F. Farny 1904 34° 48′ N / 111° 54′ W 3308/4708 (2011, After Music Recordings)
When I was in my early twenties, I picked up a copy of Blowhole’s Killing Noise from an “experimental records” bargain bin. At the time, I had scarcely ventured beyond my modest collection of punk and jazz records and had no idea what I was getting into, but I liked the gritty black and white album art and the track listing indicated a medley of Jimi Hendrix covers. Suffice to say, the record deviated significantly from my expectations. On a personal level, however, I was ready to be sonically challenged in ways that defied the dogmatic parochialism of punk. As I had never before heard anyone mention Blowhole and I could find little about the project, Jeph Jerman, the solitary figure behind the ruckus entered my consciousness. Over the next few years I became acquainted with later work, most of which was released well after he moved away from musical idioms altogether. His 2011 recording For Henry F. Farny 1904 34° 48′ N / 111° 54′ W 3308/4708 is one such release which documents the sounds of an abandoned telephone wire as heard and captured by the artist. The sonic richness of the high desert mixes well with the eerily captivating sounds of steel wire roused by the elements and other manipulating forces. The first half of album’s title, For Henry F. Farny 1904, no doubt alludes to the western painter’s piece The Song of the Talking Wire (1904), which depicts an indigenous person breaking the fourth wall with a resolute gaze, ear pressed to a telephone pole. Farny’s motivation is alleged to have come from his witnessing of an indigenous man leaning closely to a newly erected telephone pole listening in inspection and introspection. While the representation strikes me as somewhat problematic, Jerman in part channels the sentiments of the figure represented in Farny’s painting. Though operating in a totally separate realm from visual arts, Jerman’s work is living proof that sonic art is every bit as affective.