dave phillips - sixth mass extinction

LP/digital, 2019, Total Black, Berlin.   Available


6me back


The work of Dave Phillips is never about the music itself, as the man has a message for the world. He’s, by all means, an activist, fighting some good causes, such as caring about the environment. Although I am pretty sure I didn’t see all of his releases, I would think this is the first time there is an extensive text delivered with this release, addressing the way we humans treated the earth, the extinction of insects, for instance, and the fact that we are very careless with earth, so life itself might be extinct in the future. There is so much text here that one isn’t able to read it while playing the LP. This is the most ‘punk’ record by Phillips so far, in terms of explaining a point. Some of this is written by Professor Jem Bendell, but also from newspapers, encyclopaedia and online sources.

The music on this LP contains two sidelong pieces of music. On the first side we find ‘Things Falling Apart’, a stereophonic piece that was originally a six-channel piece played over three PA’s and on the second side there is the studio version of ‘Radical Hope’, “triggered by a broken heart, it’s a critical analysis of subjective behaviourisms, self-reflections, self-criticisms and conclusions thereof. the subsequent translation of derived intentions into ritualised actions include purging, activating learning and healing processes, self-betterment, empowerment and hair-burning. has since morphed into a piece about the relationship of the human as a species with planet earth as a cherished entity, such as a loved one, a friend, a partner, a companion, a parent or a family member, a home or an origin.”

Both of these pieces are tour de forces for Phillips. He has a very distinct sound. It is a highly personal approach to, for the lack of better, ‘noise’ music. Phillips plays loud music but seems not to be interested in loads and loads of distortion, but everything is recorded very loud and it never distorts. That is already an interesting achievement. On the input side there are acoustic sounds, dogs barking and air escaping balloons for instance, along with Phillips’ voice, screaming/shouting but only very occasionally. There might also be some form of electronics, providing ‘drones’, airy and nothing ‘fat’, for the sake of playing some ‘nice; drones; I am sure playing ‘nice drones’ doesn’t appear in his vocabulary. And there are very short punctures of sound. A crack, a balloon burst, the slamming of doors, the breaking of wood, a bang on metal. All of these elements are combined and put together in one long frightening collage. Or two, of course, such as on this LP. ‘Radical Hope’ provides a more continuous sound but here too elements fly in and out of the mix, growing in power and strength until it cuts out and the final minutes are reserved for a slow bang on a gong and whispering. ‘Things Falling Apart’ is more a collage piece, with rapid changes of sceneries, via bangs and thumbs, like opening doors to new realities all the time, and the voice of Phillips as a guide, even if we don’t understand him all the time. This is powerful stuff, all around; the sort of thing that made you think and it’s about time.

(Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, January 2020)