Dank rumblings, breathing underwater, something heavy, dark and murky… growls. Screams… terror in the jungle. Something animal. Roars. Snarls. Shudders. A clamourous racket of fear… the full horror still remains to be revealed. All hell breaks loose at around the 10-minute mark – only halfway into the opening track on disc one. Phillips finally verbalises, speaking in a blank, cavernous monotone.
And so Phillips (‘Dave’ doesn’t really carry the appropriate gravitas) leads the listener through the darker corners of hell as he expounds his concept of the ‘humanimal’. Recorded over a number of years, this whopping set, which spans two discs and almost 160 minutes pulls together reworkings of earlier material released in tiny batches on cassette only, with new batteries of sound to forge an immense single work that revolves around this philosophical thematic.
The booklet includes a fractured, fragmented essay of sorts, that references a broad array of sources, from Aldous Huxley and Theodor Adorno, to Philip K Dick, Paul Auster and Whitehouse’s William Bennet – the last of which comes as little surprise on listening to the abrasive sonic matter the essay accompanies.
Teaming noise builds again, animal terror as flames crackle… ‘humanimal b’ shocks with sudden bursts of noise, stretched vocal chords and subsonic beats and eventually builds to a searing wall of agonizing noise that howls and tears at the speakers. There are moments of respite – the opening of ‘humaninal a’, which follows, is a gentle drone, but it’s soon rent by juddering earthworks, thuds and dissonant moans of anguish. Snorts and squeals, a slammed piano note, spirits swirling in a vortex… tortured souls descend into a porcine underworld. A distant mechanised grind provides the backdrop to more pained cries on the 20-minute exercise in sonic torture that is ‘Rape Culture’.
Disc 2 offers no respite as crashing bangs – brutal percussion, gunfire, explosions – ricochet around a sea of squalling distortion. Violent blasts of white noise, tribal drums and a low rumble of subterranean laughter growls in ‘exipotic’. A dolorous piano resonates low amidst a sea of pink noise. Teaming, squawking, bird cries from hell, howling and screaming into the void.
Pain, crying, thunderous rolls of sound crash and sustain for an eternity on ‘so… what?’ It’s utterly wretched, and absolutely horrible. The final track, the Nietzschean ‘truth is invented by liars’ is another 20 minute expanse of aural discomfort. Rain. Thunder. A lengthy spoken word piece – a tirade against god, no less – lifted from the 1993 film ‘Bad Boy Bubby’, hovers over tense jittering frequencies. A thump, a crunching hum of distortion… and then the swell of noise and torture resumes, building inexorably to a thick, dense wall of overloading distortion. It’s the sound of the end of life on earth as we know it. And then follows silence. It proves to be of little comfort.
Dave Phillips online