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Album Review

This collective of jazz improv weirdoes banded together for a one-off in 1986 to riff on the deep vibe of all things French and cinematic. Backing vocalist Toni Marshall, Zorn, Beresford, and Toop created a virtual and highly experimental film noir soundtrack to a movie that perhaps existed in the mind of Jean-Luc Godard in the 1950s, but was never made. Toop is clearly the sonic architect here, haunting the proceedings with his deep use of effects, subdued percussion, and strategically placed guitars among the keyboards and Zorn's unmistakable alto. The set beings with a theme written around a narrative by Benjamin Peret, and comes out of the box as a R&B vamp that paints a picture of foggy wharfs, smoky bars, and people in trench coats. It gives way quickly, however, to a noisier kind of meditation that somehow keeps the vibe. As we move through "Du Gris" and Zorn's "King Cobra," the textured and sampled passages become more pronounced but the eerie, foreboding feeling remains. When Marshall begins, in her grainy, soft voice, to sing the gorgeous "Tallulah," — one of two tributes to actresses here, the other is to Jayne Mansfield — the effect is complete as we enter into a dreamy soundscape of pure cinéma vérité. From here on, the listener has fully entered a landscape that is familiar yet somehow strange, as if the color mix were off on a TV or movie screen. We can understand the images but not the language, and there are no subtitles. And that's what this quartet is going for, a manner of creating musical images that are outside the specific languages they employ in the architecture of their chosen sounds. By the time the end credits roll (on "Jayne Mansfield"), this quartet has done what so many attempt, but so few actually succeed at: They've created a virtual cinema of the unconscious, colored by sound yet evoking not only images but sounds, feelings, and textural awareness; beautiful and harrowing.

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...
Full Bio
Deadly Weapons, David Toop
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 1986

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