David Toop Brings Us The Briny Depths Of His Record Collection

Jul 12th, 2007 // 2 Comments

ocean.jpgEven in the MP3 age, there are CDs worth searching out–that require the search. Thus, Idolator’s new regular feature: O.O.P., We Did It Again is dedicated to great albums that are criminally out of print–and that are unlikely to become available anytime soon.

The album: Ocean of Sound (Virgin AMBT, 1996), a two-CD soundtrack to David Toop’s book compiled by the author.

Classic material: Toop was one of the sharpest critics of his time, ready to take chances both as a listener and writer, and Ocean of Sound–his second book, after his groundbreaking history of early hip-hop, Rap Attack (1984)–is a dense, rewarding tour of music as an environment for immersion (as opposed to merely “ambient,” the way many assumed). So is the CD, which encompasses everything from rip-roaring free jazz to Jamaican dub to field recordings to gurgling ’50s exotica.

Highlights: Everything on these two CDs is strong, or at least diverting, and Toop’s programming is perfect. But two segues in particular deserve special mention. On disc one, a field recording of howler monkeys is a perfect setup for the rip-snorting free jazz of the Peter Brotzmann Octet’s “Machine Gun.” And disc two takes the cake, with a breathtaking fade from the feedback-drenched ending of the Velvet Underground’s “I Heard Her Call My Name” into an underwater recording of bearded seals–the join is perfect, and underscores Toop’s guiding idea that music is where we find it.

Why it’s out of print: Cross-licensed various-artists compilations seldom stay available for very long, and with 32 cuts from a dizzying array of sources, this one was no exception. Virgin’s AMBT side-label, dedicated to compilations like this one and four others Toop put together (including the amazing Sugar and Posion, a slow-soul sampler as impeccable as any seduction tape as any college romantic ever made or received), went under in short order as well.

Chances it will return to print: Unless a very rich person with a lot of connections is willing to re-license everything, don’t bet on it.

Cost for a used copy: There’s one on Amazon for $24.95, which is less than I paid for it new back in ’96–and less than I’ve seen it for at savvier shops in recent years.

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  1. Ned Raggett

    Great choice, M., and the book itself is spectacular as you note — reading it for the first time some years back impressed me with how dizzyingly informed and aware he is as a listener and interpreter.

  2. the rich girls are weeping

    Easily one of my favorite books about music of all time. It has a place of honor on my bedside table. No, really.

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