Dave Phillips - A Collection of Curses

CD, 2006, Blossoming Noise, Lilburn.   Available

Curses

Cover-Collage by Jürgen Eckloff

www.blossomingnoise.com


REVIEWS

Une compilation de titres rares ou inédits (1994-2004) de Dave Phillips (Schimpfluch, Ohne, Fear of God). Une excellente occasion de découvrir le travail de cet artiste performeur pour qui le son est synonyme de coup de poing, stridences, micro-détails organiques, payasges sonores… Terreur des psychologues et expériences auditives…

(Jerome Noetinger, Metamkine)

Dave Phillips must really be a very sick man if he’s anything like his explorations into audio insanity, that are severed up here still twitching to unsuspecting listener. He mixes all manner of cut up sound, noise, unpleasant & sickly ambience, silence and almost silence. Then fires it all like a sound roller coaster ride into your mind. A collection of Curse is as it’s suggest a collection of track from diffrent times and places from 1994 to 2005, all brought into strange togetherness here. The thing that Mr Philips does that makes this all work and disturbing to such an extent is sudden left or right turns in sound, it will be dwelling in feast files sickly drone, before making you literal jump out of you skin by loud vomiting like sound. It’s the pure element of surprise and the general odd and sick inducing sounds on offer here, take for example eat beyond taste and sensations, which mixes gurgling vomit and farting sounds, waterworks tingle, metal toilet pipe bang, odd demented moans, animal sounds and all manner of sounds I’d rather not know the origins of, all making a a track that almost makes you feel your going to throw up your self. So really the tracks are either spit into odd cuts ups come bizarre rhythmic works outs or growing and disturbed ambience or a mixes of both camps -it’s the context and environments he puts the already disturbing sounds in that triples there effectiveness. One of the most disturbing and odd moments comes in the longest track here Hole/holy, which mixes low down bubble macabre synth tones, layers of female sexual moans, farting and burping sounds. It really almost becomes too much in the end, as the sounds seem to drill deeper into your mind, you start to worry for your sanity. One for fans of unnerving ambience or demented cut ups ala Andy Ortmann or Sudden Infant, where both of those artist seem to offer some light relief- Phillips is always complete serious in his attempts to disturbed and sicken the listener, really approach with caution and don’t eat before playing.

(Roger Batty, Musique Machine)

Sooo behind. Perhaps it’s an allergy, but Blossoming Noise’s consistently superior emissions release such a thick cloud of sonic ink that my senses swell and I find it impossible to arrange my thoughts for days at a time (I still have a Francisco Lopèz double disc to tackle from six months ago). This is a collection of curses, yes, but more so it is a collection of odds and ends from the decade starting 1995; the Swiss Phillips has previously worked as Fear of God and Ohne, dabbling in the dark arts of thrash and black metal, perfecting his vision as instigative noise sculptor. As one might expect from a collection by an artist of Phillips’ ilk, this disc is crammed to the 80 minute limit (give or take 20 seconds) with pieces from varied, mostly previously-released (though in this circle, not necessarily accessible) sources with only one ‘edit’ (what’s not to hate about an edit?). Though an archive, and despite the man’s healthy output, this is my general introduction to Phillips, so perhaps my impressions are poorly formed based on the age-defying nature of this album. Perhaps not. Like John Wiese, Dave Phillips makes ‘extreme’ computer music, crafting cartoonish sketches with organic and synthesized sounds, cut and placed in (seemingly) free-form arrangements that induce varied psychosomatic response in the listener. However, unlike Wiese who suffocates your ears with a relentless torrent of finely-diced inertia, Phillips utilizes blank space by inserting substantial gaps between cuts, creating the impression of relief - though merely the impression, as one instead fills these spaces with anxiety and apprehension in anticipation of the coming transmission. The songs of ‘Collection’ bear similarities of this meta-production, yet the compositional elements represent a much broader wealth of sound resource. Eschewing chronology for phases, the front-end of the disc is loaded with several collages of concrète sound manipulation, tracks which succeed best to create tension and loathing while exploring the vacant spaces of active listening. The older tracks - mostly found toward the center of the album - logically tend toward safer, more familiar territory, with field recordings of man (‘Zueri’), and nature (‘Complainer’) - though arguably, Phillips attempts to dedifferentiate these as one and the same. Like most Blossoming Noise releases and their artistic affiliations, ‘Curses’ is heavy with misanthropy, emphasizing human functions (defecation, regurgitation, farting) and sexuality as weakness (peaking with the 15 minute exposition ‘Hole/Holy’). This antipathy, coupled with the label’s subtle animal rights mandate, creates a complex space like a sonic slaughterhouse where the listener must face the ugliness of being, with little recourse. The eight part ‘Hermeneutics’ suite closes the disc (less a final rude coda) &#x03A rehashing the full-band Fear of God material in clipped, howling bursts, these tracks illuminate with cold light the intrinsic aural qualities which this thrash band equated into Phillips’ latter works as a composer and musician. I would like to say this is good ‘headphone music’; however it doesn’t lend to cluttered, busy environments - too many gaps for outside sounds to interfere with the fine tension that the composition creates. This is instead headphone music in that such forum allows no sensual distraction, but so is a secluded space recommended in which to insulate the music from foreign intruders. Mastered by Tom Smith, the recordings enjoy immaculate engineering to heighten effect, allowing no room to escape. CD comes in a digipak with brilliant, beautiful cover art that reminds me of the days when people used to make cover art.

(animalpsi)

Dave Phillips is an integral cog in Switzerland’s Schimpfluch collective, a group dedicated to continuing the extremist traditions and aesthetics of the Viennese Actionists who rose to prominence during the 1960’s. The word Schimpfluch translates as ‘abuse’ in German, and there is undoubtedly a violent current worming its way through this collection of abstracts and outbursts which reach across the last decade of Phillips’s career. A Collection Of Curses is crammed full of phlegmatic gurgles, porcine grunts and the sounds of numerous intimate bodily functions - celebrations of animal nature, both theirs and ours. These are punctuated by eviscerating shards of noise and banshee screams that are equal to anything issued recently by Wolf Eyes and their ilk. The results are often unsettling, putting the spooks up anyone who listens too intently. It is the presence of the organic suffocating amidst the synthetic wreckage that truly makes the skin crawl.
But it is on the homeward stretch, with ‘Fog Scrub” and the ‘Hermeneutics’ series, that the collection really hits its stride. Sourced from tracks by his old hardcore group, Fear Of God, Phillips teases and morphs the material into something even more brutal, creating the kind of blitzkrieg that brings to mind Bay Area train wreckers like Spazz, No Comment and San Diego’s almighty Crossed Out.

(Spencer Grady, The Wire, March 2007)

I’m sure there are readers of this zine who have some idea what exactly Dave Phillips (of Schimpfluch-Gruppe, Ohne, Fear of God, et al) does, sound-wise, but I’m basically clueless. About the only critical insight I can muster is some variation on ‘Whoah’. The bio on Phillip’s MySpace page mentions ‘psychophysical tests and trainings’ and ‘various trips to Asia for field recordings, especially of insects,’ which does shed a little light. And sure, I could trot out such bywords as noise, aktion, and bruitism, but I don’t really know what any of those mean. Regardless, what really makes it all work for me is the impeccable overall sonic design and attention to detail (which is where things like field recordings of insects come in, though never in an obvious way). This is shocking, meticulously arranged music that constantly reinvents itself, and A Collection of Curses is a very nicely done anthology of all kinds of odds & ends from the years 1994-2004, comp tracks and various unreleased stuff, both a fine introduction to the guy’s work and an essential disc for the longtime fan.

(Blastitude Magazine, January 2007)

Es ist Blossoming Noise hoch anzurechnen, dass all die verstreuten Tracks von 1994-2005 des Schimpfluch-Mitglieds auf einem Album vorliegen. Original auf allerhand obskuren Compilations oder mini-CDs erschienen, umfassen die 31 Stuecke die ganze Palette Phillipscher Unreinheiten: Telefonzwitter und Radiounfaelle, stures Insektengefiedel und robustes Hundegebell, Schreikraempfe, Affengeheul, Klowasser und extrem mitreissende Stille. Oft collagiert Phillips, zerschneidet und setzt zusammen. Aber er schreit, keucht und wuergt dabei sein Organ ueber die Nahtstellen, dass so manchem von uns die Mandeln platzen wuerden. Mund spricht hier einzig Mund, nicht ein Wort, kein Stottern kommen heraus. Und doch entfaltet sich explizit ein Weltbild, das wohl eher unheilvoll erscheinen will: ‘Justice is an Artefact of Custom’ heisst der Opener. Schade, dass da so was Altbackenes steht. Weiss doch jeder, dass Gerechtigkeit uns alle ueberlebt, seit Jahrtausenden mit uns morpht und sogar jedem von uns zu Gute kommen kann. Aal drauf, wichtiges Album. ed.

(Ed Benndorf)

This is a very strange collection of compositions that can only be recommended for truly adventurous listeners. This CD collects 31 pieces recorded by Dave Phillips from 1994 to 2005. Most folks will find these recordings to be strange, alienated, and unlistenable. Phillips records music from a purely artistic perspective. Instead of trying to come up with songs that might appeal to the average listener, he records sounds and ideas that are purely abstract and bizarre. The only possible comparison we can come up with for this music is John Cage… but the overall sound of Dave Phillips’ music is actually very different. A Collection of Curses is easily one of the oddest albums we have heard in some time. Some of these pieces are actually rather hilarious (‘Pktpl’ had us giggling up a storm). Most folks will be turned off by this CD… while a very small subsection of the listening population will be intrigued. We fall into the latter category. (Rating: 5+/maximum)

(Baby Sue)