David Toop at his most absorbing, quietly arresting for Lawrence English’s Room40.
After a fallow solo period since Sound Body (2007), this album arrives as Toop’s first solo studio LP proper in nearly a decade, following a handful of interim reissues and live recordings to remind us his rarely paralleled ear for the nuance of natural sound recordings and the enigmatic qualities of electronic music, and the space that exists between them.
They appear to be the result of extended periods spent gathering and transcribing his thoughts in isolation in Queensland, Australia, and St. Ives, UK; resulting in a suite of patiently sublime, acousmatic compositions incredibly rich in timbral detail and animated with a slow, sensuous shadowplay of a narrative which lends them to comparison with the soundtracks of Noh theatre or a highly advanced orchestra of nano-bots achieving sentience in the jungle.
While ostensibly abstract, the album’s unresolved, dreamlike logic is belied by a jazz and concrète morphology of structure owing to the tangible appearance of human phrasing from a number of contributors, from Emi Watanabe’s hushed recitation of Sakuteiki text to the saxophone of John Butcher and rain recordings provided by Lawrence English, so that each piece feels more like a pad of fermenting biomass within the greater ecology of the album.
This is highly considered yet humbly vital sound art, presenting new ways of hearing and perceiving the mineral, organic timelessness and wonder of the world with an alchemical approach arguably comparable with the works of Luc Ferarri, Rashad Becker or Giuseppe Ielasi.