David Toop
& Max Eastley,
New & Rediscovered
Musical Instruments

(Virgin, 1997)

Max Eastley's kinetic sculptures are things of ingenious beauty coaxed into song by wind and flowing rivers, but nobody needs half a CD's worth of their clanking, bubbling or wobbly noises. This recording may have been made with documentary intentions, but isolating the auditory component of Eastley's environmental art actually does his work a considerable disservice because the object's physical presence and location are lost. Historically resonant stuff, linking up bass guitarist Brian Eno's early imprimatur with the dark ambient and deep listening preoccupations of a quarter century later, but it's an unrewarding listen.

The rest of this broken-backed album is given over to three tracks by David Toop. "Do the Bathosphere" features Toop's weedy, can't-sing voice in a very fleetingly diverting piece of English whimsy. "The Divination of the Bowhead Whale," an ensemble piece, features the album's best music, while "The Chairs Story" is a multitracked eco-dirge about seals and frogs.

The recording also features Frank Perry and Paul Burwell (percussion) and Hugh Davies (grill harp).

[ by Richard Cochrane ]
Rambles: 23 February 2002

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