The ceaseless activities of Dave Phillips can be characterised as gleeful acts of punk detonation. Light the fuse. Anticipate the explosion. Bathe in the thrill of its aftermath.
Philips first shaped that raw energy through grindcore tactics as the bassist/vocalist in Fear Of God in the mid 1980s and later harnessed a similar volatility of noise aktionism through his ongoing role as a principal in the notorious Schimpfluch Gruppe. It’s one thing to ignite one thing after another. It’s another to plunge into an existential dialectic on the role of the self in a consumerist society, even if the self as a conscientious objector must navigate that landscape.
Such has been the framework for Phillips’s muscular constructions. Like last year’s scalding Rise set, Ritual Protest Music is an unrelenting album of telescoped details. He offers hyperreality as one vantage point from which to experience this work. In the barrage of chair crashes, body punches and door slamming as on the punishing “Morphic Field” Phillips thrusts the listener into a wooden room that is splintering from the inside out. Even without the parallels of the amplified body being pummelled, Ritual Protest Music recalls Einstürzende Neubauten at their most claustrophobic
and infernal. The organised chaos that Neubauten channel through aggressively controlled rhythm is replaced with a far more organic, almost textural approach to composition.
Grunts of man turned beast, toxic insect chorales and Penderecki-like cello striation orbit a complex network of sickening loops, sonic tendrils and malignant rhizomes. Amid all of this brute strength, Phillips buries spoken texts in German and English that vary in decipherability. Both the rational utterance and the guttural bellow have a place in articulating and purging rage. He sees the world as a closed system of violence, but there is agency that humanity can take even as the fleeting potential for enlightenment is under threat from technology, dominion and commerce.
Hardly pleasant, but bold and necessary.