Marcus Boon on Sound Body

David Toop's Sound Body hums and glows with life, five gorgeous morphing electronic tracks that continue Samadhisound's exploration of quiet, minimal, melodic music worlds created by the likes of Harold Budd, Akira Rabelais, Fennesz, Derek Bailey, David Sylvian and others. These remarkable soundscapes have only become possible in the twenty-first century, when improvisation, digital composing and mixing, and traditional music forms from around the globe all mutate and fuse in ways that surprise and delight.

Produced during a period of research on the effect of digital technologies on improvised musical performance, Toop's Sound Body is a disk in which the real and the virtual fold into each other creating hallucinatory but warm soundspaces. The virtual ensemble here includes a cast of fourteen playing everything from harp (Rhodri Davies), to violin (Angharad Davies) to rubber bands (japanese sound artist Haco) to torn paper (Miya Masaoka) to stones (Gunter Müller) to water-immersed bottles (Lee Patterson). A variety of voices also enter the digital mix, including the late John Latham, Japanese writer Kenji Siratori and Missy the dog. Toop himself plays a variety of guitars, wind instruments, a laptop and percussion, and edited and mixed each piece over a protracted period of time, slowly building up the rich and complex sound world that you hear.

What is a sound body? "In English, sound body means a healthy, strong body," says Toop, "implicit in the expression is an idea of the whole body. But actually I feel that the body is a collection of fragments. My idea of the sound body is the context in which music takes place. This can be a physical environment, a virtual environment, a setting such as a festival with its attendant scenes, a way of life, or a conceptual idea of what sound work is all about."

So this Sound Body is a meeting place, where different kinds of sound, different kinds of musician, different ideas and experiences come together. We all live in this sound body as we move around, taking in our environments, whether out in the wild or media-saturated. Things that don't go together, that happen in different times and places discover new ways of co-existing in Toop's digital mix which renders them neither natural nor unnatural but always beautiful.

"I feel like a visual artist who has suddenly been given the opportunity to work with more concentration, more intensity, at a deeper level," notes Toop. "There's an ambiguous materiality about sound which connects strongly to the visual universe, yet has qualities that are quite distinct."

Unfolding patterns; static color fields; chance meetings; silence; gorgeous abstraction and fierce materiality: you will discover these and more as you explore Sound Body.

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