David Toop populates the five strung-out and diffuse compositions on Sound Body with sonic events captured all over the world. The Japanese sound artist Haco plucks rubber bands in Kobe; guitarist Rafael Toral captures oscillating feedback in Lisbon; Günter Müller knocks stones together in northern Switzerland. These contributions are not so much blended as balanced, like the loops and spheres of an Alexander Calder mobile; they shiver and sway in the artificial breezes of Toop's virtual soundstage.
For a record which gathers together such a wealth of raw material - there's also Thai flutes from Clive Bell, Japanese flutes from Emi Watanabe, Rhodri Davies's harp and Stefano Tedesco's vibraphone - Sound Body is remarkable for a luminous lack of density. Toop introduces his carefully harvested sonic fragments with scrupulous austerity and a patient attentiveness to the cumulative effect of their individual tiny impacts. Initially, he says, he wanted to make a record that was almost silent, and in a sense he has. Sound Body is silent in the way an old house at night is silent, fraught with creaks, murmurs and mysterious susurrations.
Despite their aleatory feel and undoubted spareness, the tracks that make up the record all offer a sense of narrative, albeit in a ghostly and barely perceptible way. Toop has an acute ear for subtle changes in atmosphere - as the opening "Falling Light" makes stealthy progress through its ten minute duration, he skillfully offsets the chilly clatter of distant percussion against the warm, resonant tones of his own bass guitar; this shift in timbre persuasively suggests the deep russet shades of enveloping dusk.
Elsewhere - on "Auscultation", for example - there are oriental moods reminiscent of shakuhachi music, but made astringent by high-pitched digital whistles and ambiguous alien clouds. The closing "Slow Pulse" is a wonderful excursion in muted 21st century exotica; as it stretches languidly through 15 minutes of mournful shades and digital glades, it's richly suggestive, delicately unobtrusive and quietly entrancing.
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