As a listener and lover of ambient music and sound, I eventually had to encounter David Toop. He is a pioneer in new types of music and has taught me about different types of music in the genre that I love so much.
He’s a musician, writer, and teacher who sees music as a living thing that thrums around us and can connect to us on a basic emotional level. His book Rap Attack was published in three editions that talked about the influence of rap and hip-hop on the music industry, especially for American audiences.
It is one of the first books about the history of rap and how it evolved into the modern behemoth we all know about today, as well as the various changes and troubles that it went through in time. It has been seen as having no end, because rap itself is endless and keeps changing, like all music.
David Toop moved to work with other artists in the ambient genre such as Brian Eno, and Max Eastly, producing several albums of experimental ambient music before joining several bands and groups that did more postmodern music.
In 1994, he again worked with Max Eastely to produce ‘Buried Dreams’ which puts ambient music from worldwide recordings into a synthesizer and blends various instruments and sounds into a surprisingly coherent loop.
I gave the title song of the album a listen and was instantly hooked by the way flute sounds, a synthetic opening, and other elements blended together into a perfect song that was different but also ended up sounding right.
Other albums soon followed, with each one capitalizing on what made the previous ones work. Unlike most ambient albums, which are mostly listened to passively, most of his albums are meant to be listened too again and again. These albums can all have musical subtitles or sounds that we haven’t heard before until the album is heard again.
More Books and Music
Toop then kept writing more books about the history and influence of fabricated music and more versions of his first book. He also released more collaborations and solo albums over the years and even help compose music for other artists to use.
Several of his collaborating partners were artists such as British novelist Jeff Noon, and French sculptor Pierre Besson and his music was designed to complement their work. In Jeff Noon’s case, the novel was about music and stared a young bassist, so Toop’s work helped to musically show what the author was talking about in the book.
In my studies of both David Toop’s writing and music, I discovered that ambient music can be passively listed too, but that it can also be a force of exploration and can really be used to provoke some major thoughts when listened too.
I will certainly be expanding my dive into the ambient music genre and David Toop’s work will be at the very top of my list for things to listen too.