Rise is an abrasive, enthralling, uncompromising work, designed for the hardiest listeners. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same Dave Phillips who just released a placid set of South African nature recordings. But yes ~ this is the yang to that yin.
This set includes booming bass, drums, yelps, heavy breathing, clanks, slams, flies, growls, barks, broken glass, prisoners’ cries, discharged guns and protest chants, forming a virtual jungle of percussive sound. The listening experience is intensely visceral. As the tempos remain constant, the aggressive intrusions remain in constant flux. Sounds travel speaker-to-speaker like rabid dogs searching for someone to bite. Dark drones enter without warning, acting as hoods placed over unsuspecting heads.
So what in the world is going on here? Is this all sound and fury, signifying nothing, or is there a greater cause, a deeper message? For this we must turn to the extensive liner notes, as raw as the music itself. Here we find a timely message about consumption. No matter what a certain president may say, we are poisoning our earth, ruining it for future generations. Our ecological plunder leaves even the current generation bereft of opportunity. Our greed is our destruction, and not ours only ~ it may lead to the destruction of the entire earth. The words of the prophet have been fulfilled: “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” (Ezekiel 34:18).
And so, to hear the buzzing and the clanking is to hear the protest of earth under fire, its species rallying for one last stand, Gaia coughing and clutching at an oxygen mask, workers going on strike, a whale ramming a boat. Phillips is begging us to consume wisely, to read more, to open our eyes not to the world wide web, but to the web Chief Seattle so eloquently defended with the words, “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
Now we return to our opening statement. Yes, this is the same Dave Phillips who recently produced a beautiful album of field recordings. He has seen the promise of heaven in the cry of cicadas, and the threat of hell in the plastic of discarded technology. One world threatens the other. And yet, there is still a chance that they might learn to live in conjunction with each other ~ the yin and yang, the give and take, the passive and the active. In order for this to occur, a global populace will need to stand up to forces that seem too large to challenge, in service of a cause greater than either can fathom. This is the implication of the album’s title: rise. (Richard Allen)