David Toop @60

David Toop @60

Ocean of Sound (1995) – David Toop [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The book can be had as cheaply as£2.25,$6.59 orEUR 6,07.

David Toop is celebrating his 60th birthday today. The first of his works I read was Ocean of Sound, it is in my opinion the best book of music writing of the 20th century. Sadly, Toop’s publication of his latest book, Ways of Hearing[1] has been delayed.

His masterpiece, however, is Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds is a music theory book written by British author David Toop and first published in 1995 by Serpent’s Tail. The book discusses topics such as ambient music, synaesthesia, aether and imaginary worlds British music magazine The Wire said upon its release that “its parallels aren’t music books at all, but rather Italo Calvino‘s Invisible Cities, Michel Leiris‘s L’Afrique fantôme, William Gibson‘s Neuromancer … David Toop is our Calvino and our Leiris, our Gibson. Ocean of Sound is as alien as the 20th century, as utterly Now as the 21st. An essential mix.”

Of all the things I admire about Toop’s writing, two things stand out.

First his insistence on treating music in the first place as sound. Secondly his ability to connect topics to far-ranging other topics, his ability to digress meaningfully.

If you are into late 20th century (un)popular music, be sure to check Toop’s abecedaria written for The Wire: “The A to Z of Dub[2] (1994) and “The A to Z of Electro[3] (1998).

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