Dave Phillips - RISE

LP, 2017, iDeal Recordings, Gothenburg.   Available

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REVIEWS

Frighteningly fxcked-up and compelling slab from Schimpfluch-Gruppe participant Dave Phillips, whom with Rise arguably establishes a crucial bridge between the continuum of radical European outsider art and NON or Halcyon Veil’s politically-charged, hyperreal soundscapes.Accompanied by some of the most fascinating sleeve notes we’ve read since, ooh, Pauline Oliveros’ Primordial/Lift, Dave Phillips’ Rise conveys a starkly impending warning about human greed and the tendency toward anthropocentric worldviews and “extractivism”, as opposed to stewardship, all rendered thru seven scenes scrolling from convulsive hyperviolence to detached, abyssal drone and clawing cacophony. We really couldn’t say whether Phillips, a tireless “purveyor of radical sound since the mid ‘80s” has heard or is even aware of the NON phenomena or Halcyon Veil’s abrasive aesthetics, but the textural and political similarities between those vital new labels and Phillips’ cranky ass are just too striking to ignore.

Face first, he sucks us into the peristaltic paroxysms of We Know Enough To Know How Much We Will Never Know with a sense of arrhythmic chaos and trepidation that feels like Rabit and John Wiese imagining a world where feral populations fight over the last food and goods on the shelves, before Rise steps outside into a bombed out scape strafed with buzzing flies, and Culture Of Ethical Failure sinks into a fetid mire of soggy textures and deeply unpleasant torture chamber wretches dappled with minor key piano motifs. The Construct farther gnaws at the simulacra’s shaky resolution with visceral, unsettling white noise distortion, and Solastalgia / Ohnmacht feels like the infinite intro to a Venetian Snares calamity which never manifests, instead serving up grindcore rage in Only The Cockroaches Shall Survive To Rule The Earth, and leaving us petrified at what may come with the primordial orgy, A Grain of Salt (Goes a Long Way). OK, there’s definitely a distinction to be made between Phillips’ extreme angled weltanschauung and the hypermodern consciousness of NON and their affiliates, but it’s surely better to hear their relative similarities and, if you’re a DJ or listener who likes to mess around with their records, to crash and layer ‘em together in the mix where we’d imagine they’ll really come alive together.

180g vinyl. Includes a pair of double-sided, 12” x12” inserts containing the artist’s thorough analysis of, and possible solutions to, the world’s current climate, both natural and economic. Edition of 300. Highly recommended!

(Boomkat Product Review, January 2017)

And then, the next day, and another Dave Phillips release lands on my desk. This surely must be coincidence, even for someone who produces a lot. The LP comes with the most text, a heartfelt essay about the current state of our environment and men’s continuous efforts to destroy that as fast as possible; some our current leaders even stating that global warming is a hoax and fossil resources are endless, so alternatives are not necessary. I do see however a bit of contradiction here, and surely I am wrong, and that is that for the production of a LP also fossil resources are needed, a paper is used to manufacture the cover and the two inserts. Wouldn’t a download be a better idea? Oh, perhaps, taking in account the cheap labour to produce computers and all the electricity needed to keep the Internet going is another burden on the environment. That said however I think Phillips message should be taken seriously and again this is not easily reflected in the music. There are seven pieces on this record, even when it is not easy to see when one stops and the other starts. That has to do with the start/stop editing that Phillips applies throughout his music; of the three releases so far this is one that has the most musical pieces. There is rhythm, through loops of noises, multi-layered voices, punches delivered by Rudolf Eb.er (Phillips is a member of Schimpfluchgruppe) and there is even hints at melodies, and I have no idea how these were generated. It is heavy music, just like the first CD heard today/yesterday, but not as heavy as that. There is surely a somewhat lighter atmosphere in these pieces; perhaps that is the musical undercurrent of all of this? This too is a great record; a bit different than the other two, which are also not very much like each other, and all three show that Phillips is a most remarkable composer of noise music, and that it is very well possible to work this out into three quite different directions, and yet each of these has a distinct Phillips signature; and that is not only because of the political manifestoes that each of these is granted with.

(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly, January 2017)

Rise is an abrasive, enthralling, uncompromising work, designed for the hardiest listeners. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same Dave Phillips who just released a placid set of South African nature recordings. But yes ~ this is the yang to that yin.
This set includes booming bass, drums, yelps, heavy breathing, clanks, slams, flies, growls, barks, broken glass, prisoners’ cries, discharged guns and protest chants, forming a virtual jungle of percussive sound. The listening experience is intensely visceral. As the tempos remain constant, the aggressive intrusions remain in constant flux. Sounds travel speaker-to-speaker like rabid dogs searching for someone to bite. Dark drones enter without warning, acting as hoods placed over unsuspecting heads.
So what in the world is going on here? Is this all sound and fury, signifying nothing, or is there a greater cause, a deeper message? For this we must turn to the extensive liner notes, as raw as the music itself. Here we find a timely message about consumption. No matter what a certain president may say, we are poisoning our earth, ruining it for future generations. Our ecological plunder leaves even the current generation bereft of opportunity. Our greed is our destruction, and not ours only ~ it may lead to the destruction of the entire earth. The words of the prophet have been fulfilled: “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:18).
And so, to hear the buzzing and the clanking is to hear the protest of earth under fire, its species rallying for one last stand, Gaia coughing and clutching at an oxygen mask, workers going on strike, a whale ramming a boat. Phillips is begging us to consume wisely, to read more, to open our eyes not to the world wide web, but to the web Chief Seattle so eloquently defended with the words, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Now we return to our opening statement. Yes, this is the same Dave Phillips who recently produced a beautiful album of field recordings. He has seen the promise of heaven in the cry of cicadas, and the threat of hell in the plastic of discarded technology. One world threatens the other. And yet, there is still a chance that they might learn to live in conjunction with each other ~ the yin and yang, the give and take, the passive and the active. In order for this to occur, a global populace will need to stand up to forces that seem too large to challenge, in service of a cause greater than either can fathom. This is the implication of the album’s title: rise.

(Richard Allen, A Closer Listen, January 2017)

As with most of the Dave Phillips’ releases I’ve heard, Rise represents a multi-layered approach to the horror of everyday life. It’s an album that has to appreciated in its totality, both from the standpoint of a full narrative but also the totality of each individual moment. Unlike the standard listening associate with rock music, isolated sonic elements do not (and cannot) stand in for the rest of the song. Phillips provides no equivalent to a guitar solo stealing the spotlight while the rhythm section fills in the background. Each element of Rise, when isolated and pulled apart, holds no real power. When taken together, though, an overwhelming and rhizomatic sense of terror emerges.
Opening track “we know enough to know how much we will never know” exemplifies this moment by moment totality. Rhythmic breathing and a heart-like synth set the stage before quickly giving way to demonic whispers, synthetic glitches, and field recordings of what sounds like random objects colliding on top of people gargling their own saliva. These field recordings would normally sound like the leftovers from the sound design for a slapstick comedy. In conversation with the rest of the sonic elements, however, Phillips’ signature aura of terror sinks in. The overwhelming cutup elements provoke images of the world in violent collapse, physically and arbitrarily destroying itself, while the vulnerable and underlying body that contains the heartbeat and breath of the track’s intro slowly dies without anyone noticing. The end of the track gives way to an ominous set of full bodied piano chords in place of this body. Where (and when) it evaporated remains unclear.
These horror filled atmospheres, built from seemingly innocuous elements, continues throughout the album until the end of “solastalgia / ohnmacht,” where a somber melody line played on a lonely piano closes out the track. “only the cockroaches shall survive to rule the earth,” a jarringly out of place black metal explosion, follows this moment of clarity. Normally, this track would be the most effective on a standard metal album, but within the context of Rise it does not hold the same punch. This is where the totality of the entire album comes into sharp relief. “only the cockroaches” represents a moment of coordination and organization, one clearly affected by the hand of the composer. It breaks through the fear produced by the uncontrollable nature depicted in the rest of the album. A breakthrough that, in hindsight, seems obvious. But that original fear resumes immediately with the closing track, “a grain of salt (goes a long way).”
Examining the lengthy text included with this album, a diatribe which clearly articulates the dire conditions of modern society and humanities continuing role in furthering a global environmental collapse, the narrative and meaning of this album emerges. We know what we need to do as a society, but we are absolutely unwilling to give up the power we have accumulated. Still, moments of resistance emerge from within these unlivable circumstances, providing an unexpected sense of hope to a bleak album (and, really, entire body of work).
Phillips concludes the linear notes by saying “Most dimensions are yet to be explored. The real human potential has yet to be revealed. The process of liberation has only just begun. Rise.” In Phllips’ eyes, the stage has been set and the world is begging for action. While the power of our own understanding of the world should be enough of a catalyst, powerful statements such as this album remain destined to send sparks in all directions until they find a wick.

(Peter J. Woods, FTAM Productions, February 2017)

At first, Rise comes across as a forceful ‘death industrial’ opus in the way its portentous wails and whines ride spare, dramatic drums and ominous bass pulses, at times reminding of the work of Nordvargr’s Mz.412 or Thomas Ekelund’s Trepaneringsritualen. But instead of his sound-making being galvanised by occult practices, Dave Philips has a more forward-thinking, altruistic motive.
I am more familiar with Phillips singular field recordings, like 2015’s Songs of a Dying Species or the recent South Africa Recordings, whose exquisite attention to detail somehow manages the rare feat of highlighting nature’s balance of beauty and brutality - both human and animal - as opposed to indulging the listener in a bucolic comfort blanket.
Rise incorporates animal cries and buzzing flies into its blackened cacophony to remind us of the accelerating cycles of life and death caused by the Western world. It is a rousing call to action that the extensive sleeve notes make explicit: ”…to leave the religious, materialist and supremacist phases behind us…”
Although a sequence of seven tracks, Rise plays like a single, ponderous piece, like a heads-down crawl towards an inevitable decline. Its menacing, sensational setting of nature’s cries amidst doomy drones and industrial detritus; combined with its environmentalist stance, turn the dark dramatics unnervingly into an all-too-vivid documentary soundtrack, giving the listener plenty to think about.

(Russell Cuzner, The Quietus, March 2017)

Ze wszystkich dotychczasowych nagrań Dave’a Phillipsa największe wrażenie wywarł na mnie album nagrany wraz z Hiroshim Hasegawą, a wydany w 2015 roku przez Monotype Records – „Insect Apocalypse”. Koncept był imponujący: z wielokrotnie nałożonych na siebie owadzich dźwięków Phillips i Hasegawa tworzą apokalipsę, której jeźdźcami okazują się miliardowe roje owadów, konsumujące wszelkie życie, przynoszące tylko beznadziejną śmierć – w wyobrażeniu tym ludzkość napotyka swój kres w wilgotnych wnętrzach owadzich labiryntów.
Tegoroczny „Rise”, solowy i radykalny w swym politycznym wymiarze projekt Phillipsa, traktuje ideę cierpienia już z perspektywy bardziej przyziemnej (choć wciąż pojawiają się elementy owadzie, np. mucha tłucząca się o ścianki szklanego słoju). Słuchamy głównie nagrań tortur, walk ulicznych, strzelanin; krzyki, wrzaski, tępe uderzenia; a nad wszystkim panuje gargantuiczny bas i okazjonalne motywy fortepianu (a nawet sporadycznie death metal). Rodzi się z tego kolejna w dorobku Szwajcara apokalipsa – równie ateistyczna, ale tym razem czysto ludzka.
Diagnozy społeczne na bok: „Rise” to najmocniejsza dźwiękowa dystopia, jaką usłyszycie w tym roku – jest nawet skuteczniejsza niż „PARADISO” Chino Amobiego (pomijając różnice stylistyczne obu albumów), gdyż nie popada niepotrzebnie w literackość i fantazję; nie tworzy nowych futurystycznych obrazów, lecz wyłuskuje elementy składowe teraźniejszości, w szkle powiększającym kolażu ukazując przerażająco wyraźnie ogrom cierpienia i grozę tych sytuacji, które dzieją się wciąż, codziennie, za kurtyną medialnej agendy, i robi to bez wskazywania palcem, bez dat, miejsc, winowajców. Phillips uwzględnia tylko czysty czynnik terroru, z którego ulepione jest właśnie „Rise”, płyta w pełni zasługująca na tag ritual protest music.

(Michał Pudło, Screenagers, September 2017)