Music Reviews

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Artist: Mei Zhiyong & Dave Phillips (@)
Title: s/t
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
Dave Phillips is a sonic activist, composer, performer and researcher based in Zurich, Switzerland. Mei Zhiyong (or MeiZhiyong) is a Chinese artist now living in Changchun City, Jilin Province, China working in harsh noise, experimental music, independent film, photography, and field recording. Both of these artists have illustrious credentials in the field. dp has been a purveyor of radical sound since the mid 80's,
working solo since 1987, and has developed a unique sonic language typified by sharp compositional techniques and strong environmentalist connotations. A few of the projects he has been associated with include Fear of God, Ohne, Perverts in White Shirts, Rabid Dogs, Dead Peni, and Schimpfluch-Gruppe. According to the text on his website, "dp re/searches and ponders existences and behaviourisms humanimalistically.
Sound as communication in direct and primal form, a language, a tool of metaphysics, a conscience and a consciousness, opposing the omnipresent restriction and reduction of life and living. Sound communications that activate primordial shared emotions otherwise hidden under the debris of civilization, inviting rumination, encouraging intervention, endorsing catharsis, therapeutical stimulation is acknowledged. sonic activism, ritual protest music." Mei Zhiyong has releases going back to 2011, tours quite a bit and has this to say regarding noise (music): "exploring the nature of the way, the body is a tool, thought is a program. All the manic, quiet, extreme, abnormal have been preset by procedures and tools,noise is the carrier of breaking all the rules, only impaling nothingness will really make you get rid of the contradiction between voice and body, between body and mind." Pretty heady concepts that blow away the misconception that "all these guys want to do is take out their frustrations by making noise." There could be a degree of that involved but it certainly isn't their raison d'être.

This isn't the first collaboration between Phillips and Zhiyong; more like the third, as far as released recordings go. On this limited edition (300 copies) LP on the Slovakian Urbsounds Collective label the recording and composition is by Dave Phillips while all sounds are by Mei Zhiyong. Think on that a bit. Before I begin discussing what transpires on this recording, I must reiterate my sentiments on noise music. It is a genre that that has steadily declined in what I favor, and my tolerance for, and appreciation of it has significantly diminished. Where I once found a cacophony of sound stimulating and invigorating, perhaps even cathartic now and then, now I tend to find most of it annoying and irritating, leaving an acrid taste like handling a mildewed record. That said, I can still give you an idea what's going on here. There are no track names, just two sides - the A side clocking in at 15:45 and B side at 18:54. The A side begins with some manipulated vocal utterances by Mei Zhiyong morphing into a variety of electronic noise squalls. Throughout the recording(s) a variety of sonic environments are explored- hyper-electronic mutant animal farm, annoying air raid drone, field recording of ambient small crowd chatter, strange machineshop, bursts of static, alien factory, chaos at the broken videogame arcade, destruction of all relevant (and some irrelevant) equipment, raping circuitry, and more. Not all is hellacious; there are some passages of calm monotony. They don't last terribly long though. Considering that these recordings were culled from the duo's 2015 European tour, I have reason to believe they were collaged by Phillips as sort of a "greatest hits" of maximum intensity and velocity, sort of an audio documentary with multiple layers for maximum effect. You must realize that the source was improvised, even if the mix was a tad calculated. Noise enthusiasts might drive themselves a bit crazy trying
to figure this all out, but that only enhances the record's replay value as one wonders what the hell was going on at certain given points. This one is certainly not for noise novices as a deep regard for the discordant, jarring and explosive is required.



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