David Toop

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David Toop (born 5 May 1949) is an English musician, author, and professor of audio culture and improvisation at the London College of Communication. He was a regular contributor to British music magazine The Wire and the British magazine The Face. He was a member of the Flying Lizards.

David Toop
David Toop.jpg
Background information
Born (1949-05-05) 5 May 1949 (age 71)
London, England
Occupation(s)author, musician, curator
Years active1970–present
Associated acts

Early yearsEdit

Soon after his birth, his parents moved to Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, where he grew up. He was educated at Broxbourne Grammar School, which he left in 1967 to study at Hornsey College of Art.


Toop published his pioneering book on hip hop, Rap Attack, in 1984. Eleven years later, Ocean of Sound appeared, described as Toop's "poetic survey of contemporary musical life from Debussy through Ambient, Techno, and drum 'n' bass."[1] Since the 1970s, Toop has also been a significant presence on the British experimental and improvised music scene, collaborating in the 1970s with Paul Burwell (playing guitar and flutes in their duo, Rain In the Face), Bob Cobbing, Hugh Davies, Max Eastley, Brian Eno, and others, more recently performing with Rie Nakajima, Thurston Moore, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sidsel Endresen, Camille Norment and Elaine Mitchener. He is a member of the improvising, genre-hopping quartet Alterations, active from 1977 to 1986 and reforming in 2015.[2] In 2000, Toop curated the sound art exhibition Sonic Boom, and the following year, he curated a 2-CD collection entitled Not Necessarily English Music: A Collection of Experimental Music from Great Britain, 1960–1977. More experimentally, Toop has also actively engaged with 'sounding objects' from a range of museums.[3]


  • Rap Attack: African Jive to New York Hip Hop (1984) ISBN 0-89608-238-5 – republished with additional chapters as
  • Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds (1995) ISBN 1-85242-743-4
  • Exotica: Fabricated Soundscapes in a Real World (1999) ISBN 1-85242-595-4
  • Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory (2004) ISBN 1-85242-812-0
  • Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener (2010) ISBN 1-4411-4972-4
  • Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom, Before 1970(2016) ISBN 978-1-6289-2769-6
  • Flutter Echo (2017) in Japanese ISBN 978-4866470115
  • Flutter Echo (2019) in English ISBN 978-1-78760-152-9
  • Inflamed Invisible: Collected Writings on Art and Sound 1976-2018 (2019) ISBN 9781912685165

Partial discographyEdit

Solo and collaborationsEdit

  • New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments (with Max Eastley) (1975)
  • Wounds (with Paul Burwell) (1979)
  • Buried Dreams (with Max Eastley) (1994)
  • Ancient Lights and the Blackcore (with Scorn, Seefeel, Timothy Leary/Dj Ched I Sabbah)
  • Screen Ceremonies (1995)
  • Pink Noir (1996)
  • Spirit World (1997)
  • Hot Pants Idol (1999)
  • Museum of Fruit (1999)
  • Needle in the Groove (with Jeff Noon) (2000)
  • Black Chamber (2003)
  • 37th Floor at Sunset (2004)
  • Doll Creature (with Max Eastley) (2004)
  • Sound Body (2007)
  • Lost Shadows: In Defence of the Soul - Yanomami Shamanism, Songs, Ritual, 1978 (2013)
  • Entities Inertias Faint Beings (2016)
  • Dirty Songs Play Dirty Songs (2017)
  • Apparition Paintings (2020)
  • Field Recordings and Fox Spirits (2020)

Curated albumsEdit

  • Ocean of Sound (1996) – (2-CD set intended to accompany his book)
  • Crooning on Venus (1996)
  • Sugar & Poison: Tru-Life Soul Ballads for Sentients, Cynics, Sex Machines & Sybarites (1996)
  • Booming on Pluto: Electro for Droids (1997)
  • Guitars on Mars (1997)
  • Not Necessarily "English Music" (2001)
  • Haunted Weather : Music, Silence, and Memory (2004) – (2-CD set intended to accompany his book)


  1. ^ Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, p. 355.
  2. ^ Bell, Clive. "Clive Bell: What's so funny 'bout British improvising? - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  3. ^ Toop, David (1 October 2012). "Sounding the Object: a Timebase Archive". Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies. 10 (1): 39–43. doi:10.5334/jcms.1011203.

External linksEdit