The Humanimal In The Sixth Mass Extinction [2022-02-17]
I would hope that this introduction is unnecessary, but for nearly 35 years Dave Phillips has carved out a space of his own within noise and experimental music, with a huge body of work, recorded and live. This work has gathered together a variety of recognisable strands, including psycho-acoustic cut-ups, field recordings, visceral live aktions, and noise, with all centring a rigorous investigation into the existential, the ecological, and their intersection. Whilst this might sound dry, academic, or bloodless, Phillips’ work is anything but, revelling in the primordial noise of life and marshalling insect buzzes and human burps in meticulously crafted recordings and performances that hang suspended in an ecstatic tension between beauty and ugliness. His work is never an easy or light experience, but always stimulating, rewarding, and memorable. I have yet to hear any release that is mediocre or ‘phoned in’, which is a rare feat in such a prolific discography, so I am pleased to report that Dave graciously indulged my increasingly wayward questions…
M[m]: You’ve been doing this for a long time now - do you ever envisage stopping?
DP: well, yes and no. in fact, all the time, but not really....
I have existential crises every now and then, where I wonder about the impact of what I do and try to relate it to what I wish to contribute. I question my motives and often wonder whether my activities waste more energy than they provide in any significant way. Not just in such moments, other "disagreeable" aspects of what I do become painfully present.
On the other hand, creating music is akin to breathing for me. without it something essential would be missing. When I'm in my soundworld, I am in a good place. it balances me, it's therapeutic, it's fun and it feels amazing - it's a high! It's a place of magic; and I cannot not create sound. It's also a part of my communication, and what a lucky bastard am I to be able to do what I love and that people offer me live shows and releases!? This additionally fuels my path. I'm so grateful for having and being able to share music, it just doesn't compare. I guess contradiction is part of it...
M[m]: How do you feel about the environmental impact of streaming music, and, for that matter, releasing music on physical formats?
DP: Agh, that's one of the contradictory, disagreeable aspects of what I do. To make my music available, I waste energy - by making it streamable, and/or by enabling physical goods to be manufactured and sent around the world. I've often wondered how the digital and physical realms really compare, in terms of waste, I have no idea which would fare better, if any. Even if my sound communications are something I am happy to share, I am at the same time contributing to the mass of essentially meaningless produce that we only believe we need because we live in a sick civilization...
M[m]: What are your feelings on Extinction Rebellion? Do they have much of a presence in Switzerland?
DP: I've heard of ER but they only appear in the periphery of my perception (I don't follow daily news), I have an idea what they do, I've heard of actions in Switzerland. So basically I don't know shit, and can only offer an opinion. Generally, I applaud anyone standing up and speaking out for the climate and against the havoc our lifestyles are wreaking on our home planet. The urgency of this issue is undeniable, it's the most pressing matter of this day and age - everything else must come second.
But then, an organisation that size will always bring with it ambivalence, opportunists or people who are trying to manipulate things to suit their own needs, there are arseholes everywhere. On another end, you will have nitpickers who will always find something to criticize. Contradiction can be found everywhere, it's part of our nature, even if some would like to tell us otherwise. I wonder... alas, it's necessary to speak out in this day and age or at least to stand up for one's beliefs, questioning the path of least resistance, as we are bullied by greed, fear, control, technological dependency and bureaucracy. Not enough people speak out, just comply and obey. Then again, is media presence all we have to give? Does this create change or just more waste?.. agh...
M[m]: Do you have any particular method when you are field recording? Are they very organised ventures with serious gear, or do you more wander and see what happens?
DP: Both. Though I don't use serious gear. I used to use binaural microphones (with a tape-recorder, then an MD and then a Zoom recorder) and place myself in the middle of the action. With recording/storage space increasing over time, I've started to place mics in spots and just leave them for hours, recording. It removes the joy of exposing one's self to danger (and mosquitoes), but the non-presence of the recordist has its own merits. Alas, I prefer being "in the zone", so, the body in the action. When I travel I try to find spaces for "organised ventures", say x days specified to be spent in national parks or other non-human habitats, en route from A to B. Sometimes this happens alongside tours, but I also go places specifically for extended field recording ventures, sometimes months on end, the focus/zone is thus rather enhanced. I rarely travel without a recording device. And wandering is often part of it...
M[m]: Following on from the Extinction Rebellion question... COVID! What are your feelings about the pandemic? (I've seen your mask design...) And what about the pushback/protests - my take is that the populist anti-vax/'plandemic' movement has correctly identified government and big tech as corrupt, controlling entities, but then rather than organise for a world without and beyond them, has descended into a conspiracy mindset...
DP: Uff. That seems a huge question - the pandemic - our reaction to it - shows me more than anything else, how many things in our system are just inherently wrong, or have gone wrong. That’s nothing new in a way, in other ways our pandemic response has sped up this tendency and reached unseen levels....
What brought us to this point is a culminated interdependence of many things... that’s where this question becomes huge. Our so-called civilization... its millenia of patriarchy and monotheistic religious indoctrination (“we, the chosen ones, shall subdue the earth and have dominion over land and sea” etc); the disastrous takes on Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” with the so-called “scientific revolution” further cementing patriarchy and hierarchical thinking and offering very reduced ideas of the complexity of life and the earth (ideas which by no means have disappeared); the industrial revolution with its mass-production (and masses of toxins) and this wonderful industry it birthed (“now we can make all this produce, how do we sell it?”) resulting in this culture of materialism and thus of waste, of thrash, of insipid gadgets that just distract; the destructive power humans have developed since industrialisation is mindboggling... not forgetting what we learned with the agricultural revolution, like the idea of property... all of this leading to the unsettling world dominance of corporate capital, and its utter disrespect for life. Western medicine with its unhealthy obsession over death denial doesn't help much and is now largely in capital’s hands... agh, the more I think of all the parts the uglier the painting gets...
Our ideas of safety and security have gone beyond any measure of balance so that our overprotectionism seems to result in most people being paralyzed by insecurity and fear. Why have so many allergies popped up in the last few decades? Our “war on germs” is as misleading as our “war on terror” or our “war on drugs”. Bacteria are the only culture many people have ;o)
It seems also that we are so intricately involved in this path that there's no turning back, soon... we would have to change so much to really make any meaningful difference - and there’s just too many powers that be that have very different interests - and a lot of power. So it's head-on into self-destruction. Not that that would be a bad thing for us... except that on that way we’re killing off a lot of the rest of life on this planet. In terms of coexistence, we fail ignominiously.
Our blind faith in technology doesn’t help, it’s become the ersatz religion, not to be questioned: “don’t scorn the believers!” The essence of technology seems to be: solve one problem, create two new ones. We have all become expert, hyper-specialised problem solvers. Moving on down this path, we’ve separated more and more from the natural world - in which we evolved and lived for nearly a quarter-million years, until 10 to 12 thousand years ago, when we became sedentary - and this tendency has since increased, most drastically in the last 150 years. Now, finally, we are separating from each other. What progress!
And how useful the vaccine is.... whatever it does, it does not prevent transmission of the virus. which makes the whole certificate nonsense pretty obsolete as well. “okay, more of the same”....
What’s this progress about anyway? It’s a myth. it basically assumes “today is better than yesterday”. And don’t we have all the gadgets to prove it?
In a way, it’s not surprising to see what has become of our misleading ideas of civilization. We are dominated by the economy, by corporatism, and this affects everything. How can there be democracy if corporations are more powerful than governments? But that’s what’s happening, and that’s who leads the way. And isn’t it such an obvious deadend? I mean, how can a linear economy (1 - take resource, 2 - use resource, 3 - create waste) sustain itself in a natural world that functions in cycles, where one being’s death is nutrients for other beings? Like, where will all our radioactive rubbish in cement-blocks dumped in the oceans go, when the cement dissolves in about a century? The economy has become more important than the environment and than our social, humane selves.
Governments seem rather clueless - but thanks to the industry (in this case primarily pharma and silicon valley tech) there’s all these great ideas about vaccines and here’s the new technology to go with it and aren’t we all relieved that someone’s taking the lead. It must work, right?
I reckon part of why the world's clueless governments obsess so much over "tackling covid" is so they then don't have to focus on our really pressing problems - the destruction of the natural environment, the earth, our home - and lest we forget, home to many other animal species, a quarter of which we haven't driven to extinction yet. But that's just a matter of time.
It’s a heyday for those who can profit from our pandemic response, and there are a lot of them. But there’s as much of a conspiracy going on there as there is one of vegetarians who want to change the world diet - even if common demoninators can be found. It’s no secret the powerful have pre-planned agendas for many anticipated scenarios just waiting to be rolled out - but to talk of any kind of conspiracy is silly: it’s just business as usual, 21st-century style - more disrespectful than ever, more dishonest than ever, and more skilled than ever at flogging propaganda and product, creating addictions and habits... and that’s where our progress goes, doesn’t it? There’s opportunists, many who think and act very short-term, much selfishness, much greed, not much love, not much respect... but no conspiracy. This is simply what our civilization has done to many of us. It roots back to many of Darwin’s mislead rules imposed on nature.
This is the essence of the agricultural revolution: to keep more people alive under worse conditions. The industrial revolution took that to new levels. Nowadays, half of the world’s richest countries’ adults are on prescription drugs. The average American senior takes 2 to 7 medications a day. Ack, I shouldn’t even start... There are some uncomfortable realities that we seem to be hiding from. Another is that we have vastly overpopulated the planet, not in a healthy way, and not with healthy populations. Not that the hysteria around this pandemic is making anything better. I don’t wanna know how this crass, restrictive social distancing and all the fear is damaging our coming generations - thinking of it gives me shivers. But who are we kidding? As if it’s gonna get any better any time soon.
If anything, this virus is telling us that we are out of balance. How do we respond? More control, more technology. As if you could control life! It’s just so preposterous. Life is supposed to be uncertain, isn’t that the exciting part?
Control, it’s the story of our times. We are seeing an unprecedented claim to control by the forces of the state, in alliance with the forces of corporate capital, over your life and mine. All currently united in the symbol of our age: a smartphone-enabled QR code, the new passport to a full human life. Our tech tools have turned against us. But they weren’t really ours, to begin with. We were theirs, and have become more so...
Is contemporary humanity the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water, too accustomed to the gradual increases in heat to jump to safety?
The empire - our system - is failing and falling, that’s clear. And it’s gonna get uglier. Nah, humanity has lost the plot. The best we as a species can do to this planet is disappear.... it’s the best that can happen to this planet. I’m afraid though the worst of our damage is yet to come...
There’s a text I’ve written for a recent live-action that I’d like to add to this topic:
the modern world is a human zoo, designed, created, administered and inhabited by humans. tragically, the zoo we’ve designed for ourselves is a poor reflection of the world in which our species evolved. this human zoo is a very unhealthy, unhappy, inadequate and insufficient place for too many of the human animals it contains - it breeds many sick specimens. we have become domesticated and are born into captivity - we don’t really remember what freedom is anymore. like water, we grow stagnant and putrid when we cease to flow
betrayal - that's how young people around the world describe all our governments' collective failures to take care of our environment, our earth, our home.
dystopian scenarios have become very real as co2 levels rise, forests burn, oil gushes into oceans, fishing grounds collapse, flocks of birds fall dead from the sky, the buzzing of bees fades, butterfly migrations stop.... 75% of total insect life has disappeared in the last 150 years!! vital ocean currents are slowing, masses of swirling plastic soup the size of texas suffocate our oceans, and the living dead stumble through our collective unconsciousness, while each successive year is the hottest on earth...
our response? more control, more technology, in the name of “safety and security”, so that the comfort of the cages in our human zoos isn’t threatened. we have not only become separated from our home planet but from each other.
our opinions go hand in hand with the new technology, as we become more and more polarised - it’s black or white, for or against, 0 or 1 - we are becoming binary, just like the technology that runs our lives.
this is not a drill. it's code red for the earth. millions more will suffer as our planet is devastated - also humans - a terrifying future that will be created - or avoided? - by the decisions you make. you have the power to decide.
do you know the difference between the sixth mass extinction and the previous five?
Funny thing though.... there’s a part of me that has not given up (yet). Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. Deep down I know the human potential is far from being explored, maybe that keeps me going. Our species is only at the beginning really. We’re a very young animal. I’m still curious, I still (also) see the world as a place of wonder and beauty. Life could be a matter of magic and love.... not of numbers and papers...
M[m]: Following on from your lengthy answer to the COVID question:- I was really struck by what you said about nature operating in cycles, but humans now operating on a linear economy, creating non- (or very slowly) degrading waste - this is a fundamental shift, isn't it? As you say, it's a dead end. But it's interesting on a philosophical level too: we've created matter that's not renewable: dead matter, truly dead matter that remains dead; anti-nature permanence. Humans have often clamoured to create things that will survive forever, often as a monument to themselves (statues, huge tombs, etc), so it's ironic (fitting?) that the things that might actually survive longest aren't huge monuments to human greatness, but small pieces of plastic that speak to the human desire for comfort, easy profit, selfishness... [I've fought with this paragraph for a while, and I'm sure I have a question but I can't articulate it - so perhaps this is more of a 'response' which you are free to ignore.]
DP: “Anti-nature permanence”, that’s nicely put. Yes, our legacy to the world is not just our monuments (not all of them megalomaniac) but especially plastic waste, from the macro (the great pacific trash vortex, anyone?) to the microplastics that have by now infiltrated all cycles of life, through one main source of all life, water, and thus all that is fed by it, from mother’s milk to plankton - there is hardly an organism left that has no traces of it. Amazing especially since plastic exists commercially only since the ’40s. And plastic is not the all of it - there’s all the poisonous waste we release into the air and soil... waste doesn’t go away. There is no “away”. Our “anthropocene” is the age of waste, more than anything else. That’s our legacy.
Yes, this describes a fundamental shift. Poisonous waste goes hand in hand with technology and the industrial economy it paths, waste is deliberately generated as the very metabolism behind economic growth (planned obsoloescence as an example). This all has exceeded our humanity - and it is here to stay.
We are the only species that manages to permanently poison basic natural elements (water and air) and subsequently damage ecosystems, the whole environment; the only species that cannot maintain a sustainable lifestyle. But as mentioned, this development is fairly recent (within a planetary timeline), our wastefulness is a pretty recent acquisition to our lifestyles. In other words, this is not necessarily something we cannot still change. If we set our minds to it.
Here’s something to ponder: recognising that waste is central, not peripheral, to everything we design, make and do, is key to transforming the future. If we want a definate shift forwards towards something ... ehm, more “balanced”, especially reducing waste (and thus production) is essential, but also recycling (“re-cycle”). Cause otherwise, it is a dead end. Waste is not just a byproduct of our culture - it is our culture. We would be well advised to consider the economic dimensions of our waste culture.
By 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
M[m]: And another big one: what do you think the way forward for the world is? Do you lean towards any particular political ideology?
DP: Well, it’s good to know what we’re dealing with. It’s good to exchange opinions and avoid polarisation (ideally through exchanging directly with people, not via media feeds). It’s helpful to focus on what can nurture us, what unites us, not on what separates us.
And then it’s good to know where we want to go. For myself, with all that I said until now, I reckon it’s pretty clear, our main attention has to be planetary health, the climate, the environment, this home we share with all other beings, with all things alive. When the very weather is warped by the climate crisis, and plankton in the deep sea have guts full of microplastics, the idea of a nature that is pristine or untouched is delusional. That’s not a healthy planet... there’s a connection between planetary health, soil health and human/sentient health.
If we continue down the wasteful path we’re on, we lose, all lose (except maybe the greedy, selfish elite, the main culprits and profiteers of this havoc, who will colonise mars once the earth is unlivable, haha). If we can manage to make important shifts, away from our wasteful and excessive lifestyles that we take for granted, away from this overbearing, technological and corporate domination, we might be able to give our future generations more than a total mess of a planet. I think that would be healthier for everyone involved. But we need to act, to take a stand - now.
Corporate power and their responsibility needs to shift, I think that should be clear to everyone. The economy has to decelerate, not accelarate as it has been - reduce production - reduce waste. Corporate power often acts disresepectful towards life, this cannot be tolerated anymore, stricter regulations are called for. Polluters must be held responsible, for starters...
There is no political ideology that I adher to, it seems a dead-end these days, too much compartementalised thinking and positioning. Most of all our heart is asked for right now, I feel we have to include our heart and guts more in our decision-making, on our paths - and with that courage, trust, love. We can argue any idea to death. We can find whatever excuses we want, we will always find the confirmation we look for, it’s easy, we’re not stupid. But we should try to shift away from this material excess that defines most of our lifestyles, to consume less and maybe to also concern our selves with more than just consuming...
Our recent time has become one of mistrust and separation, of disinformation and manipulation, of anonymity and fear, fear of even helping your fellow human being...
I think this is a good time to reflect on our relationships.....our relations to many essential things: to the environment, to consuming, to technology, to time, to each other, to our neighbours, to co-existence, to life and what we want from it, to death - and to ourselves. To reflect on our so-called “humanity”, and what that means, and what we want it to mean, and how we can share that with the world.
If anything, our covid response is a game-changer. For some, it’s a testing ground - “shocks” such as the covid pandemic are good moments to try out new technologies and introduce new rules - for “our safety, health and security”. Even if some of these might make sense for a while, a lot of these changes are here to stay, if... if we don’t speak up we’ll end up in a sad and lonely technocratic nightmare of surveillance and control, where we’re no more than consumer-data interacting via screens and technology - binary beings, separated from life. “It sucks, but hey it’s the future!”
Don’t get me wrong on technology or development, I’m no “antimodernist”, I have no “anti-stance” towards it, not at all - like any tool, technology is inherently neutral, it’s our usage that renders it helpful or toxic. It’s a question of balance rather than any simplistic “for or against” stance. What I wonder about is whom technology serves, or should serve. Let’s not forget the power of capitalism to turn any good idea into just another product.
Again, it’s good to know what we’re dealing with:
The pandemic has changed a lot, take new habits developed since early 2020 for example. The way we interact, socialise, consume, work, buy, play, move around, be... the measures taken to tackle covid - lockdowns, vaccine passports and mandates, medical segregation, discrimination, mass sackings, widespread destruction of small businesses, the deepening of the profit and reach of big tech, a radical normalisation of digital monitoring, surveillance and state control - have permanently changed our societies. I’m afraid a lot of it will not be going away.
What also should be clear: the really lasting consequences of the covid pandemic will not be caused by the virus itself, but by our responses to it. And this is where we seem to be heading: the construction of a future which is at once controlled and catatonic, dystopian and dull, monitored and monotonous beyond bearing. A future in which global corporations are free to build the world they have long desired: a borderless, interconnected market technocracy, in which each human individual is a tracked, traced and monitored production and consumption machine - all in the name of public health and safety.
Nation-states and their political leaders have been progressively disempowered by globalisation, and power has been concentrated in the hands of those who create and control the world’s technological infrastructure (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Klaus Schwab, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk et al). Their wealth has at least doubled in the last two years - and they already own a stupendous amount of the world’s wealth. (see also https://inequality.org/). They envision a world free of small businesses and anarchic commercial arrangements and awkward human interactions of any sort, instead run by efficient, clean, digitised corporations offering ‘e-solutions’ for any activity that might threaten our safety and wellbeing: this has been on offer for years now, but the pandemic - as some billionaires openly acknowledge - has been a blessing for those behind it.
With governments initially having hardly an idea of how to handle the covid situ, along comes big tech and offers its solutions - our saviour! And ... here we are: the official state narrative has becomes a hymn to the saving grace of global capitalism, dressed up in social justice clichés and aspirational NGO-speak. “Responsibility”... huh...
If we talk of “responsibility” and don’t include planetary health in that, we betray all those nations and peoples impacted by our wasteful lifestyles, who probably can’t even afford to think of protecting any part of their population against covid because they are struggling with basic survival, displacement through environmental destruction caused by corporate exploitation, and climate change.
When I walk through the “big city” here (Zurich) I detect little of this propagandised “responsibility”. What I do detect is mistrust, distrust, lack of cooperation, unhelpfulness, a lot of insecurity, division, fear and downright hysteria... along with a kind of desperate distraction through shopping and screens... and anger, scapegoating, blamestorming... it seems that the confusion, anger and division swirling around us all right now is a result of our confused inability to navigate what we are living through, or even to quite understand what is happening...
The currently available vaccines don’t prevent transmission of the virus, but they do have the effect of normalising the technologies involved. And the plastic waste that goes with all these tests (many of which have proved inefficient) is... quite the opposite of the direction of where we should be heading... plastic production is increasing unabatedly... we’re in the midst of the construction of a giant system of control and management, with more waste and pollution than ever, to save us all forever from sickness, death and infficiency. And covid has sped up this trajectory.
But control systems never last. The world is beyond both our (rational) understanding and our control, and so, in the end, are people. We barely understand ourselves. The world is not a mechanism: it is a mystery, one that we participate in daily.
If we refuse the future that is being laid out before us - if we refuse this lonely, corporate technocracy - we cannot, at this point in history, be silent. I reckon our task is to understand, so that we can resist, the shape of the tyranny it brings.
At the end of the day, everything is an ecosystem, it’s more than just a network, it’s more than just the sum of all its interconnected parts (a smaller part of which we know or can name), all these relationships... they should be at the heart of our attention, and of our lives... we are organic beings...
...We belong to nature - it’s not the other way round: nature doesn’t need us. If we can internalise that, we have a good starting point.
M[m]: Given your earlier years in Fear of God, do you ever feel the urge to play in a 'band' again? How do you feel about being primarily a solo performer - has this come about through design or necessity?
DP: When fear of god ended one thing was clear to me: I wanna act solo. So that’s a conscious decision. I’ve played in bands since, and it’s been fun :o) Ohne, Ketsu No Ana.. Schimpfluch Gruppe is more a collective than a band ... but my main focus since 1988 has been my solo work.
M[m]:Following on from that, what’s the current status of Schimpfluch-Gruppe?
DP: With Joke, Rudolf and me spread out (Berlin, Osaka, Zurich) getting together is not easy. Last time that happened was US 2016, last time Schimpfluch Gruppe performed, Rudolf and me had lovely Alice Kemp with us, in 2019. No current Schimpfluch Gruppe tour plans exist - none for me solo either. With the world being what it currently is, travelling and organising events has become rather difficult....but there’s a forest behind my home and a river just below :o)...
M[m]: [This is a sensitive question, but I feel you believe in open discussion of difficult topics - but certainly feel free to ignore!] Given the existential aspects of your work, how has the recent loss of your father affected your thinking on life and death, and your music?
DP: I welcome an open discussion. Existential, huh... well, I don’t find it easy to distinguish between things such as art/work, work/leisure, education/pleasure, private/public, political/personal, fan/artist - it’s all part of “the flow”, heh. So, yes, this experience affected all the me’s strongly. Being a carer for my dad, living with him for 15 months, and accompanying him into death is one of the most “important” things I’ve done in my life (not sure of the “right” word here). Also, the most demanding. Either way it brought with it an incredible wealth of food for heart and thought, for all senses - so very much I wouldn’t know where to start.
It also touched on something... hm... for example, I never doubted for a moment that I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be... (oh that’s a start)... it felt essential, it felt very deep-rooted - being there in this situ also felt like something that defines us - not just as human animals, but as mammals maybe, or as social sentients - like an intrinsic part of us. Taking care of the old, taking care of kin, of loved ones.... in times of need... at the end of a cycle... dealing with death in such a way... I could not not be there and I would not want to have missed this experience. It showed me so much..... I feel really strongly about it. I feel that not taking care of our old - or not taking care of our young for that matter - helping on our ways into and out of this existence - is like not taking care of some of our purposes in life, is missing out on some of life’s most precious and profound experiences. No less. I’d even call it a gift - it teaches us a hell of a lot about what it means to be us, not just us animals/humans, but, as you and me, as part of something, to be who we are, as individuals and together, as relations. A chance not to be missed. A real education.
Oh, here’s more progress: so many things essential to bringing a human into and out of this existence, are outsourced nowadays - we can conveniently dump our offspring and our old at the nursery and pursue our money-gathering occupations - what a fitting word: we’re occupied by this.
This brings me to something I reckon is a main problem in this world today, a most damaging thing this “civilization system” has done to homo sapiens - bad parenting. Or better said, lack of parenting. Not just that a lot of it is outsourced - for many parents there’s no time for it. Because this system forces us to make having to generate money to pay for our lives our main concern. It also makes it seem that such human “commitments” are just a nuisance, a waste of time. And nowadays we can express our “love” through material goods, isn’t that convenient?
And as public schools do a lot of the parenting these days, the human potential as well as the wealth and wonder of existence is squeezed into a reduced and restrictive world of named and numbered things - just what you need to “survive” in this economic system that runs the world and probably most of our lives.
I read somewhere “never before in the history of mankind have so many infants deprived of social contact and continuous proximity to carers survived so well to reproduce themselves so successfully.” Take a moment to ponder what ambitions and hungers these children carry into adulthood, and how they play out in politics, business and crime. Is this “progress”? Is that what we’re wrecking the planet for?
We’re so busy generating money we have no time to take part in life’s most precious (and important) experiences. Finding an “occupation”, a job, is mostly mistaken for finding one’s purposes, one’s skills...
When I think of people in power, of presidents, CEO’s, heads of government, political and economic leaders, “bosses” and such, and their sad and often hollow seeming aspirations, it makes me think of children who didn’t receive enough love. A lot of serial killers seem to talk of dominant, abusive or absent parents too....
And then we’re surprised that there’s a virus... that maybe is here to try to bring life on planet earth back into some kind of balance, or at least in that general direction, hopefully reducing populations of a very sick, cancerous and most destructive species that has vastly overpopulated the planet and doesn’t even know how to take care of its home or respect its coinhabitants, but kills and enslaves them... and now, itself....
“What’s the difference between the sixth mass extinction and the previous five?”
Go Corona!... ;o)
M[m]: And as an aside, what did you think of Con-Dom's 'How Welcome Is Death To I Who Have Nothing More To Do But Die'?
DP: Mike is a dear friend. He also organised some of the first Schimpfluch-Gruppe actions in the north of England. “How welcome is death” is my favourite of his albums - not just since my own respective experience - to me it’s his most accomplished.
M[m]: With the severity of the issues we've discussed, and the (sometimes) extreme presentation of your work, what are your thoughts on transgression as an artistic practice? (I can't put it less wanky than that, sorry!)
DP: Transgression is not an artistic practice I pursue consciously. in a way I don’t understand this word. My dictionary tells me “go beyond limits (of what is morally, socially, or legally acceptable)”. But is this not part of human nature, isn’t going through life a lot of finding out where limits are, drawing your own lines? - in one way. In another way, to “go beyond acceptable”, means that there are standards or norms somewhere, which I feel are legit to at least question, to “challenge” even. Some are no doubt in the right place, others deserve change. I guess I mean, a lot of life’s processes are organic, things keep morphing, and that doesn’t happen if you stay put and just follow.
M[m]: Given some of the ground we've covered, a couple of fun questions to finish:- Recommend us an album/book/film to listen to/read/watch (or give us huge lists, that's fine!)
DP: “The Ascent Of Humanity” by Charles Eisenstein. one of the most impactful reads in a very very long time.
I read three Ursula Le Guin novels last year, I loved “The Word For World Is Forest”. “The Left Hand Of Darkness” is beautiful too. Her work is visionary.
“The Mushroom At The End Of The World” by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing.
Portal’s “Hagbulbia”. Pan Daijing’s “Jade”. Duma live! Hildur Guðnadóttir’s “Chernobyl” soundtrack. Alice Kemp’s two 2020 EP’s.
G*Park’s remastered box.
Cosey Fanni Tutti’s “Sex Art Music”.
Markus Schmickler’s recent double-cd on Tochnit Aleph.
Rudolf Eb’er’s Om Kult trilogy.
Nurse With Wound still release amazing music, the collab with James Worst e.g.
The Caretaker’s incredible “Everywhere At The End Of Time”.
“Sentient” by Jackie Higgins.
some people I keep revisiting again and again: Krzysztof Penderecki, Coil, Giacinto Scelsi, Galina Ustvolskaya, Foetus, Morton Feldman, Luigi Nono, György Ligeti, Jerry Goldsmith, Francisco Lopez ...
I keep on discovering lots of mind-blowing traditional music, field recordings of human culture so to say, old and new. There’s a lot here: http://ishin-den-shin.blogspot.com/
Naked’s “Killed By Roses”.
Mgla’s “Age Of Excuses”.
there’s some exciting new electronic music around, from Uganda, Kenya, Congo, South Africa or Indonesia for example - Hakuna Kulala, Nyege Nyege, Gqom Oh and Yesnowave offer treasures.
South Park’s 2021 “Covid, the return”.
Adam Curtis’ “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”.
Bruno Manser - "Die Stimme des Regenwaldes”
that’s just scratching recent surfaces... I could make a huge list....
M[m]: Tell us about a musical love you have that might surprise us..
DP: Hm, how about kawaii metal j-pop like Babymetal, Bish, Necronomidol or Band-Maid? Or maybe Ic3peak?
Again, my thanks to Dave for answering in such depth and with so much thought. His website can be found here: https://www.davephillips.ch, his bandcamp here: https://dave-phillips.bandcamp.com/, and soundcloud www.soundcloud.com/dave-phillips
picture credits: large pic Thala Linder, menu picture randy h.y. yau, 1st in interview pic nathalie dreier, lorenza pusterla, unknown, Marianne Phillips