CD, 2015, Monotype Records, Warsaw. Available
Man müsste schon vollkommen unvertraut sein mit dem Werk von Dave Phillips und Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro, C.C.C.C. u.a.), um bei einem knapp achtzigminütigen Dröhnen auf der Basis des Klangs tropischer Insekten etwas anderes zu erwarten als Irritation, Dramatik und zugleich so etwas wie „psychedelischen“ Wohlklang. „Insect Apocalypse“, das über ein längers Prozedere hinweg herangewachsen ist, kann außerdem als gelungenes Beispiel kreativer Arbeitsteilung gelten. Den unbeabsichtigten Grundstein zu dieser Kollaboration legte Phillips in mehreren Aufenthalten in Südostasien und Ecuador, wo er in zahlreichen Naturaufnahmen vor allem das immerwährende Summen und Zirpen von Insekten aufzeichnete.
Phillips und Hasegawa, die sich schon seit den 90ern kennen, begannen irgendwann gemeinsam an dem Material zu arbeiten und improvisierten in einem Studio in Koenji erstmals live an den Aufnahmen, die mehrfach durch Filter und Effekte gejagt wurden. Es dauerte jedoch bis 2012, als das Schweizer Luff Festival eine Kollaboration der beiden für einen japanisch-schweizerischen Themenabend vorschlug. So erfolgte der nächste Durchgang dann auf der Bühne. Erst danach entstand die Idee zu einem Album, und nach mehrfachem Hin- und Herschicken von Dateien brachte Phillips die Stücke in ihre endgültige Struktur.
Es gibt einige Tracks auf „Insect Apocalypse“, die mit dem oberflächlichen Eindruck von Eindimensionalität spielen, der sich allerdings schnell verflüchtigen sollte, wenn man Stücke wie „scrap breeding“ oder das statischere „antophilia apocalypse“ nur in entsprechender Konzentration und Lautstärke hört. Nicht nur wird das kontinuierliche Surren mit der Zeit dichter und opulenter, immer mehr zeichnen sich unter der Oberfläche weitere Geräusche ab, die man teilweise für Obertöne halten könnte, die aber – ob geheimnisvolles Pfeifen oder an Froschquaken erinnernde Sounds – allesamt subtil eingebaute Ergänzungen sind.
Andere Tracks sind weit offenkundiger bearbeitet, so treffen in „hexapod retaliation“ ein Mückenkonzert und weitere Urwaldbewohner auf industrielle Geräusche, in „radioactive darkness“ mutiert ein Waldszenario mit Affengelächter in puren Noise und in „anura mutant“ übernehmen endgültig Synthies das Ruder und lassen das Stück in dunklem Grollen ausklingen. Diese Sounds verraten natürlich besonders Hasegawas Handschrift, die sich jedoch ebenso in der fließenden, sich stetig intensivierenden Gestalt wiederfindet, die unweigerlich an die Klangwelten von Astro erinnert.
Dass man letztlich bei vielen Passagen kaum sagen kann, ob sie aussschließlich auf field recordings basieren oder doch eher elektronischen Ursprungs sind, macht einen zusätzlichen Reiz der Platte aus, die allerdings primär aufgrund ihrer atmosphärischen Sogwirkung überzeugt. (U.S.)(Uwe Schneider, African Paper)
Connected listening: more works by Dave Phillips are available through his Bandcamp page, including digital and physical releases.
Hiroshi Hasegawa has uploaded a selection of works under his own name as well as his project Astro on his Bandcamp page. To find out about his physical releases it’s advisable to use Discogs as a reference as just like Dave Phillips he’s very prolific and has released music under a large number of projects. At the time of writing, reissues of classic albums he released as part of the Japanese Harsh Noise group C.C.C.C. through Helicopter / Troniks are still available (reviews of these will also appear here).
Monotype Records is nowadays active mostly as a pressing service for independent / underground artists and labels under the name Monotype Pressing, but some of the label’s releases up until 2017 are still available on physical format through various online shops and mail-order’s including Soundohm
The second half of 2020 is ending up like a particularly fruitful time for great new (Harsh) Noise album releases and reissues with especially Helicopter / Troniks keeping us busy with very neat line-ups of releases including Sissy Spacek, Incapacitants, The Cherry Point and C.C.C.C. (as mentioned above) additionally the Bandcamp pages from artists like Dave Phillips are being updated with downloads of all kinds of curious older releases both solo and in collaboration. Indeed Dave Phillips & Hiroshi Hasegawa (of C.C.C.C., Astromero and many more) are the main characters behind the release I’m reviewing here today, Insect Apocalypse and indeed this album is a good way to be both introduced to the sonic approaches of both artists and discover what their amalgamation of sonics sounds like. Insect Apocalypse was released 5 years ago this year on CD through Polish label Monotype Records and features Dave and Hiroshi collaborating in the layering and manipulation of various field recordings from insects, birds and other sounds of nature recorded mostly in Asia with Dave handling the source field he recorded and Hiroshi manipulating these through various filters and effects in oftentimes quite fiery, at times harsh manners. The result is a 76 minute long album spread over 6 lengthy pieces that seems to imagine this dark, nocturnal jungle landscape infused with Industrial machinery and strong washes of vacuum sucked air with the reverb in the mixes adding quite a lot of depth and space to the pieces that does make the layers of the pieces more discernible and dynamic being more of a gradual than wall approach to Noise. Both artists have a background in radical approaches to sound as well as creating radical sounds with Dave Phillips already making noise through various extreme Rock bands in the 80’s like Fear of God afterwards moving towards creating music and sound works under his own name as well performing radical physical body-based actions together with Rudolf Eb.er, Daniel Löwenbrück, Joke Lanz and Marc Zeier as Schimpfluch-Gruppe. Dave often uses field recordings of nature, especially animals and embeds environmental activism in his sonic works and live performances with a focus on the misbalanced relationship between animals and humans being especially apparent but does this in a very creative and subconscious manner that also enriches his works artistically rather than feel like purely activist. Hiroshi Hasegawa’s approach is similarly immersive but rather in a more psychedelic and at times emotional ￼manner as he approaches Noise and Harsh Noise through an improvised varied manner in which through his chains of effects, synths and other sound sources he’s not just looking for the harshest Noise but instead providing us rather with otherworldly sonic experiences through indeed oftentimes loud and harsh Noise. As I’ve heard on this release his approach is quite unpredictable and thereby even more fun because of that. Before we dive into Insect Apocalypse, let’s have a look at the version of the release I’m reviewing here. The review copy I got here features the album’s 6 tracks as the original CD masters in WAV format and interestingly they feature the tracks without their final titles, but rather denote a certain set of sections in every file name, possibly hinting at either the sections the pieces are built up of or are simply markers used in the CD mastering process. Whatever the case, it’s an interesting insight in this album’s creation if these filenames indeed point at sections. Besides the WAV files the review copy features two PDF files featuring the layouts used for the printing of the CD packaging, including the Digifile artwork and CD label. The artwork features lovely compositions mixing illustration, 3D imagery and manipulated photos that feature various funky and elegant looking bugs as well as the equipment used by Hiroshi Hasegawa, it’s a bit more light-hearted than the ambience of the compositions on Insect Apocalypse themselves are but they definitely give the album an inviting appearance to get into.
Insect Apocalypse starts off with Scrap Breeding (Insect Apocalypse 1-6 on the review copy) and we’re introduced straight away to the mixture of sonic elements Dave Phillips & Hiroshi Hasegawa present to us in these 6 tracks in various shapes and structures. Consisting of an ominous high frequency whining sound, metallic cricket and bird sounds, swirling streams of squelchy effect manipulations, washes of harsh distorted sounds as well as thumping low- frequency bangs the piece imagines the first scene of events happening in what to me feels like this mysterious nocturnal jungle landscape that is by now disrupted by Industrial activity with man-made machinery making hissy, metallic noises. Dave and Hiroshi’s layers of sound and noise fluidly intertwine, sometimes overshadow and flow through the stereo space in adventurous at times eerie but so recognisable natural textures in which the field recordings are often already so much metalled into steel but some birds, owls, distant voices still peep through adding some lovely details that are at times reverberated through the metallic layers. The piece has a certain brooding, dangerous ambience to it in how the high frequency tone and low end bangs seem threatening but with quite a lot of animal sounds still being recognisable the piece also seems comforting in a strange way. Sounds of bats are mixed with high frequency tones as the abstract Noise sonics keep on flowing and mutating in the calm but fiery active nocturnal jungle landscape. This piece finally also introduces an aspect of Hiroshi’s approach to Noise that becomes quite recognisable in this album which is the “sucking” like sheets of wildly fluttering noise mixed with the high frequency tones with Dave being responsible for the at times quite magnified landscape ambiences. Afterwards Hexapod Retaliation follows (Insect Apocalypse 7-12 on the review copy) in which we find ourselves in the middle of some kind of mechanical process happening in the middle of the jungle which not only disrupts the quiet sounds of crickets and soft sweeping wind of nature but also chops up these sound in wild ways adding to the metallic processing we were introduced to in the first track. These chopping effects wildly swing the cricket sounds around the stereo space but also distort them even further with fiery delay time manipulations making for screechy bended waves of mangled sound. However besides these effects the source field recordings are also a bit cleaner in this track, making for a more subtle blend of natural and effected sounds in the beginning of the piece, in the second half however things start to get much more abrasive. Warned by low end thumps in the first half already, the Industrial process hacks much more into the landscape in the second half of the piece in which growling and buzzing waves of flanger effected Noise move into the sonic landscape. This Noise subtly grows in intensity and changes all the time moving from harsh raw crunch to the aforementioned sucking streams of sound that wildly morph into rippling waves of psychedelic sound. The piece does continue with a theme from track 1 however in that it also does feature some kind of mechanical high pitched whining tone throughout the piece alongside with other bits of glittering high frequency ￼sounds that retain this cold mechanical ambience within the piece but yet also don’t completely disrupt the peaceful aspect of the jungle we’re in in Insect Apocalypse. Mixed with the crunchily bassy thumps this second half does provide a great ride for Noise fans in particular but the dynamics and space in the piece also gives some breathing space and retains that lovely depth in the piece that makes deep listening easier. Besides enjoying the noise this also does make the piece (as well as the other tracks on Insect Apocalypse) more emotional in a mysterious subconscious manner like a night out exploring the jungle. Then we have Radioactive Darkness (Insect Apocalypse 13-15) which is the shortest and also (relatively) most straight-forward piece in terms of its Field Recordings based Noise approach. The piece hovers entirely around a soundscape featuring a mixture of more prominent bird sounds and crickets (which amplifies the jungle aspect of the album some more in this case) with scattered LFO manipulated squelchy Noise patterns as well as even wilder delay, pitch and reverse effects manipulations within its second half. This piece presents the nocturnal jungle in a less Industrial manner but rather lays more of the wonderful vibrant animal sounds bare however still with embedded sheets of distorted field sounds which this time form more of a wall which evolves over time giving us an inspired blend of the more idle (and subtle) kind of Noise Wall and meditative deep listening. It’s also one of the most peaceful sounding pieces on Insect Apocalypse as even though the meditative state gets disrupted by the sudden burst of squelchy chopped and scratched manipulations in the second half, we’re this time allowed to sink into the ever-continuing landscape itself rather than be confronted with mechanical disruptions which do make things a bit darker in meaning perhaps. The usage of the repetitive LFO pattern and disassembly of the elements as the piece fades out also does force us to get our listening mode into more of an awaiting state as well as shows us the constructed aspect of the piece directly in the case of the disassembly. Besides the rhythmic pattern there’s also plenty of great filter and flanger wildness in the piece however and things get proper psychedelic again in this one. Anuran Mutant (Insect Apocalypse 16-21) which follows is more subtle in its approach and is also both the longest (at 23:52) and most dynamic piece on Insect Apocalypse. Whilst the piece uses sonic approaches in terms of filtering and effect usage which are by now familiar to us from the previous pieces, Dave and Hiroshi bring more of an extended meditation session through sound in this piece rather than the at times wilder approach of the pieces before and also layer the sounds used with more depth and less focus on the Noise side of things. That doesn’t mean that the piece doesn’t have its Industrial edge however as quite a few parts of the piece feature mysterious rumbling metallic throbbing bass drones that sound somewhere between large trumpets used to signal an army in ancient times and a huge engine within a factory speeding up and down, alongside bubbling low end glitches. However in terms of structure the piece follows a much slower and more gradual path, showcases mixtures of crickets and at times whooping bird sounds, often metallic and irons blended with hollow streams of Noise, accelerating and decelerating mangled effected sounds, high pitched tones and sucking flanger effected noises. The separate layers are more easily discernible in the piece, with wider panning and not being obscured as much by the noise and at times fade into the distance to come back in different shapes later on. I’d say this is like the Noise equivalent of a Drone piece in which cold metallic mechanics signal their place in the soundscape but are still overshadowed by the chirping and loud sounds of the rich world of nature. If the previous piece where more of a close up of the landscape, this piece zooms out and gives us more of an overview of the full size jungle that we are currently exploring. Anthophila Genocide (Insect Apocalypse 22-25 on the review copy) in a way continues onwards from Anuran Mutant but in this case the machinery has definitely fully disrupted the landscape with the low end throbbing drones returning alongside more violent intrusive metallic manipulations of the cricket and bird sounds. Interestingly the bird sounds themselves are actually the ones that lead the iron sound of the piece as through the manipulations and pointy compressed sounding repetitive patterns in their noises the bird seem to replicate ring- modulated and LFO modulated squelchy iron sounds not unlike what we hear in the effects themselves. The full piece seems to document some kind of process going on with a lot of focus on crumbling, scattering and ominous sounding streams of metallic particles and signal ￼like tones ever changing with the low end at times breaking through the landscape in crackling abrasive thumps. The process is suddenly cut off at the end however with a reverb following the cut like an event taking place in the jungle suddenly being disrupted but this is quite deceptive as the climax of Insect Apocalypse is to follow in the last piece. Arthopod Frequency (Insect Apocalypse 31-38 on the review copy) is this last piece and follows a slow build from clicky bird sounds and crickets to the aforementioned Noise climax. It’s in this piece where Dave and Hiroshi let their approaches to sound intertwine in the most extreme manner as we get both the discernible sources sounds by Dave peeking through the metallic manipulations as well as Hiroshi’s abrasive heavily expressive distortion and effect performance. Beside the metallic reverberating birds and crickets we also get new layers of different animals and further amplification of the field recordings in this piece as croaking frogs can also be heard in the climax. The build-up of this piece is quite gradual but also more subtle than you might expect as while the first fade into reverb of the bird sounds at the beginning might hint at something significant happening, the wall of Noise, “wind” and madly fluttering and croaking animal sounds that form the climax appears to happen quite late into the piece accompanied by distorted but also muffled vocal like noises that are more in the background that piercing sharp. This is the piece where Dave Phillips and Hiroshi Hasegawa both amplify their sounds the most but without beginning overly crazy and psychedelic but rather more as a kind of expression of what might be a shocking event in the jungle like a sudden change of weather waking up all animals which leads to them bursting out screams and shouts to each other backed by heavy mechanical Noise expressing the same tension in a colder abstracted manner. This final piece is not as dark or ominous as other pieces on Insect Apocalypse but does end with a few exciting intense low end crunches disrupting the whole flow in a fiery manner. A great finale to this excellent album. Insect Apocalypse is both a collection of compositions based around insect, bird and nature field recordings manipulated in various manners by Dave Phillips and Hiroshi Hasegawa as well as great sonic nocturnal journey through a mysterious semi-Industrial jungle that has equal deep listening as abrasive but also psychedelic Noise enjoyment embedded within its 6 pieces. Helped by Riccardo Mazzo’s great mastering which enhances the album’s clarity of both field recordings and Noise effects as well as keeps the dynamics and loudness of the pieces nicely intact Insect Apocalypse is a great listen for listeners looking for a great hybrid of nature recordings with Japanese style Noise as well as fans of abstract soundscapes that blend organic and effected approaches together for a unique experience. I give this album a Polar Visions Amplitude of 95 dB and highly recommend you to check this out.
Insect Apocalypse is still available from several online shops including Corticalart
A download version of the album is available from Dave Phillips’ Bandcamp page(Orlando Laman, Polar Visions Amplitude, October 2020)
Одна из наиболее удачных коллабораций Дэйва Филлипса - с Хироши Хасегава (Astro, ex-C.C.C.C.), выпущенная на CD в 2015 году польским лэйблом Monotype Records. Называется альбом “Insect Apocalypse”, и его идея - сопоставление тембрального разнообразия, которое способны создавать как насекомые, так и созданные человечеством машины и механизмы. Полевые записи Дэйв Филлипс в основном делал в джунглях Вьетнама, Таиланда, Эквадора и Индонезии. Идея альбома появилась во время встречи артистов на фестивале LUFF в Токио, в 2012 году.(Dmitry Vasilyev, https://vk.com/event170151466, August 2018)
Un primo incontro tra Dave Phillips e Hiroshi Hasegawa (forse i più attenti ricordano quest’ultimo tra le fila degli YBO² o dei C.C.C.C.) c’era stato nel 1997, durante un concerto in quel di Tokyo. Durante gli anni successivi, i due musicisti continuarono a mantenere contatti più o meno stretti, fino a quando, nel 2012, per un’edizione giapponese del LUFF festival di Losanna, i due furono invitati a collaborare dal vivo. Il materiale nato per quell’evento, successivamente manipolato in studio, è uscito qualche mese fa con il nome di “Insect Apocalypse”, un lavoro destinato innanzitutto agli estimatori dei due musicisti ma anche agli appassionati delle manipolazioni rumoriste.
Con Phillips ai field-recordings e Hasegawa ai filtri e agli effetti, il disco si avventura lungo sentieri ostili e non di rado traumatizzanti, in cui i suoni concreti e quelli riprocessati finiscono, spesso e volentieri, per confondersi, dando vita, nell’immediato, a sudari elettrostatici che crescono tra rombi ed esplosioni assortite, mentre l’affastellarsi di milioni di insetti, invasa la scena, annuncia l’apocalisse (“Scrap Breeding”).
Con “Hexapod Retaliation” sconfiniamo nel vuoto pneumatico della drone-music, ma l’affresco è innanzitutto rivolto all’evocazione di una ruvida e lercia spirale di harsh-noise che, tra picchi assordanti e declivi riflessivi, finisce per risolversi in uno statico rumore di fondo. L’espressionismo disumano di queste partiture raggiunge il picco, in termini di saturazione e confusione delle sorgenti, con “Radioactive Darkness”, che fa pensare a una foresta di simboli sonori sempre più impenetrabile (la stessa che invaderà le casse alla fine di “Arthropod Frequency”) o a un flusso di coscienza per androidi sotto anfetamina.
Se, quindi, il brano più psicologico è “Anthophila Genocide”, con cui i nostri s’inabissano nell’oceano dell’inconscio collettivo, “Anuran Mutant”, con i suoi quasi ventiquattro minuti di durata, rappresenta invece il momento più enigmatico, andando a comporre un mosaico in lenta evoluzione in cui convivono sinistre fluttuazioni e vischiosi rigurgiti di dark-ambient, fuori bordo cosmici dentro buchi neri percettivi e sprazzi di glitch-music dell’iperspazio, detour tra i meandri di caverne marziane e registrazioni sul campo di quelli che, con tutta evidenza, sono rospi alieni.(Francesco Nunziata, https://www.ondarock.it/recensioni/2015_PhillipsHasegawa_insectapocalypse.htm, October 2015)
Dziś płyta z katalogu warszawskiej wytwórni Monotype, jedna z pięciu, jakie ostatnio wyszły – i chyba najlepsza. A już na pewno najmocniejsza. Duet Dave Philips & Hiroshi Hasegawa. Pierwszy, szwajcarski muzyk sceny eksperymentalnej, występujący też jako dp, odpowiedzialny jest tu za noise’owe nagrania terenowe insektów, realizowane w Wietnamie, Ekwadorze, Tajlandii i Indonezji. Drugi, japoński artysta sceny noise znany z formacji C.C.C.C., przetwarza te nagrania przez różnego rodzaju filtry i efekty. To, co z tego powstaje, robi miażdżące wrażenie od pierwszych minut, które narasta z upływem czasu – obawiam się tylko, że ludzie odczuwający strach przed owadami nie będą w stanie tego słuchać, bo rzecz brzmi jak gdyby wsadzono nas do niewielkiej metalowej kapsuły wypełnionej tysiącami bzyczących i brzęczących stworzeń, których jazgot stopniowo zaczyna się zlewać w jedną potężną ścianę dźwięku. Kto miał do czynienia z naprawdę głośnymi dźwiękami cykad gdzieś na południu, ma świadomość tego, że owady potrafią zagłuszać konwersację i budować środowisko dźwiękowe z olbrzymim natężeniem, ale tutaj mamy insekty wsparte elektroniką i przesunięte na pozycje laboratorium naukowego, horroru, a może i science fiction, bo to technologiczna fantazja na temat przyrody. Swoją drogą, chciałbym obejrzeć film o tym, jak panowie to swoje dźwiękowe środowisko na sterydach budowali. “Insect Apocalypse” to mocno działająca na zmysły (momentami wydaje się, że nie tylko na słuch), fascynująco plastyczna i gęsta muzyka do bardzo głośnego słuchania, z pewnością nie dla każdego. Mnie paradoksalnie – bo to zupełnie odmienne instrumentalnie kreacje – skojarzyła się w jednym z lżejszych, delikatniejszych momentów z moim ulubionym albumem Monotype, czyli “Fluoresce” Magdy Mayas i Tony’ego Bucka.(Bartek Chaciński, Polifonia, May 2015)
… Much longer pieces are to be found on the release by Dave Phillips and Hirsohi Hasegawa, which is also recorded in 2012, with additional material by Hasegawa from 2013 and edited by Phillips late 2013 and early 2014. Part of this is recorded in concert. To the table Hasegawa brought filters and effects and Phillips field recordings from Vietnam, Ecuador, Thailand and Indonesia. Both of these musicians have a solid base in the world of noise music, Phillips mainly under his own name and Hasegawa as a member of C.C.C.C. and Club Skull, while working solo as Astro (these days actually a duo). In much of Hasegawa’s work there is loud noise, but from a more psychedelic angle: lengthy passages of on-going sounds at a high volume. It’s brain piercing but in a very pleasant way. Phillips unearthed from his tapes, minidisc, DAT tapes and hard disc recorders some field recordings that fit very well. In each of these tracks he creates a mixture of them and feeds off the sound to Hasegawa who treats this further. I am merely guessing here, but I think what is captured on this CD is both Phillips’ mix, dry as it is, along with Hasegawa’s additional effects, and those two are mixed together by Phillips when putting together this release. Clocking in at seventy-seven minutes this is quite a tour de force, I think, especially if you decide to go along and play this at the loudness that is required. Lots of high end piercing frequencies, but occasionally also dropping at the bottom of the sound spectrum. Definitely not easy listening music, but it’s something that worked rather well. Not over the top noise, not Phillip’ more usual approach of cut-up but also not Hasegawa’s monochrome approach, but a fine mixture of both their interests in some fine music.(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly, Issue 983, May 2015)