Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds Paperback – May 1, 2000
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
A member of a radical editorial collective on the cutting edge of British music criticism in the 1970s, later a critic for more standard papers, including the Times, David Toop'S second book covers a vast expanse of music. His tour-de-force survey describes a dissonant and invigorating clash of music and noise from western classical to Javanese gamelan, from Claude Debussy to Miles Davis to Brian Eno, from disco to techno to ambient. He discusses the changes in our sound world caused by the global reach of radio and recordings, and shows himself a rigorous pluralist, open to all styles and forms, but unafraid to offer robust criticism in any musical sphere.
Ethereal, ambient sound is a passion in certain circles in England and the U.S. Toop traces the twentieth-century history of music that "could be characterised [sic] as drifting or simply existing in stasis rather than developing in any dramatic fashion." For Toop, the lineage of such music includes Javanese pulsation, the recording-studio-as-instrument excursions of Jamaican dub pioneer Lee "Scratch" Perry and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, John Cage's Zen composition theories, and a plethora of jazz players, most notably Sun Ra and Miles Davis. Toop argues that these disparate influences are incorporated in the work of such contemporary "techno" musicians and DJs as Aphex Twin and the Orb. Toop does not use recordings as his only references but, like the wandering music he describes, touches on science fiction, semiotic theory, and his own travels in this expansive treatise. He incorporates all these subjects into a clear and direct book that may appeal even to readers whose listening preferences are more conventional. Aaron Cohen
Top customer reviews
cracks-great chapter on the Ambient scene in
England in the nineties.
Ultimately, however, I leave the book feeling a bit underwhelmed. Ironically, it is the book's very eclecticism that works against it. I personally did not see the connectionsbetween, say, the music of Kraftwerk and Toop's (admittedly fascinating) discussion of the sound of the Amazon jungle. These disgressions ultimately make the book useless as a survey. Of course, I doubt that it was meant to be so, but Toop fails to make the kinds of connections that have given books by Greil Marcus and others a fascinating unity.
Perhaps, though, this is the point. Much like the ambient music that serves as the centerpoint of the book, this book simply floats by, not asking you to make any conclusions. It is probably best read in bits, before bed or in the bathroom, where the individual moments of brilliance can be better appreciated. Very ambient, indeed.
There is a similarly-titled double CD which came out to accompany the book, but I can't see it on Amazon. It is as eclectic as the book and features a lot of the artists interviewed and mentioned - Sun Ra, Aphex Twin, and others. I have played the CD to death and would recommend it. You gotta respect a compilation that puts The Beach Boys right next to African Headcharge, or My Bloody Valentine next to Brian Eno - and makes it work so well.
The book also features a list of albums and artists in the appendix, which I found useful as a way of doing further research.
Another book in a similar vein is Kodwo Eshun's "More Brilliant Than The Sun", though it focuses solely on the innovators in electronic music.
Most recent customer reviews
It seems to be written by some pseudo-intellectual that is desperate to impress with a fload of scattered ideas, way too many, and all...Read more
I find the author's work interesting but at the same time unbalanced.
What brings me to write this article is his strident, absurd critique of Steve...Read more