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Black Chamber

David Toop

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Album Review

It is amazing that an artist active since the 1970s can still reach new heights in 2003 without repeating himself. Young experimental electronica and electro-acoustic composers could learn many lessons from David Toop, especially from his Black Chamber. The pacing, the variety in moods and textures, the artistry of the electronic treatments — everything about this album calls for repeated captivated listens. The overall atmosphere is slightly Japanese, starting with a quote on the back of the inlay card: The title refers to the room where the emperor from Kamatsu cooked for himself — to remember how he lived before accessing to the throne. On this album, Toop also keeps ties with the past. Many tracks feature old friends: Paul Burnwell, Bob Cobbing (who together with Toop formed the trio abAna in the '70s), Terry Day, Tom Recchion, Yuhirito Watanabe. The unmistakable soprano sax of Lol Coxhill greets the ear in "Soft Cavities," inviting the listener in. Toop leaves his improvisation untampered, wrapping his electronics around it (Martin Archer uses the same approach in many of his pieces). "The Slapping Gun" ends with the voice of Cobbing slowed down to a crawl, a growl from beyond the grave he would probably be delighted with. "Apartment Thunder" and "Ill-Faced Doll" take the form of cinematic sound collages (including Japanese voices) with erotic overtones. "Black Chamber" concludes the disc in an unexpected way, an electric guitar playing a dreamy (even post-rockish) motif over a thundering bass drum and washes of Mellotron. If each piece works very well on its own ("Poison Incense" and "Plume" standing out as compositional gems), it is their calibrated sequence that gives Black Chamber its strength. This could be the shortest 54 minutes you will listen to in ages. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1949 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Although British writer and composer David Toop's recorded output has included everything from experimental rock and jazz to musique concrete, the bulk of his solo and recent collaborative works have been in the vein of experimental ambient. Better known perhaps as a journalist and music historiographer, Toop is the author of a pair of widely hailed books — Rap Attack and Ocean of Sound (both Serpents Tail) — as well as a contributing editor and columnist for U.K. experimental music magazine...
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