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Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds
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Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  723 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Ocean of Sound begins in 1889 at the Paris Exposition when Debussy first heard Javanese music performed. A culture absorbed in perfume, light and ambient sound developed in response to the intangibility of 20th century communications. David Toop traces the evolution of this culture, through Erik Satie to the Velvet Undergound; Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix.

David Toop, who li
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1996)
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Jun 19, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: sound
I listen to a lot of boring music. Really boring. Astonishingly boring. This book helped me understand why.

'Ocean of Sound' is a loose meditation on accidental and intentional ambient sound. It's meandering and inconclusive. It privileges tone over facts. I love it.

Debussy hears a Balinese gamelan orchestra in Paris in 1931. Sun Ra composes and performs the history of the future in the late 1950s. Japanese soundscape gardens designed around the noises particular insects make. Richard D. James st
Jun 26, 2012 Simon rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this pretty frustrating. I don't mind books which are wide-ranging and unafraid to explore the fringes of their subject matter, but this was pretty much *all* fringe, with less than half of it conforming to my expectations of what a book about ambient music should be like. Maybe that's my fault (or the fault of the back cover blurb writer), but I can't really see the relevance of the extended chapter describing in tedious detail the author's journey into the amazon rainforest. So he made ...more
Savvas Katseas
Jul 31, 2013 Savvas Katseas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journalism, music, history
Από τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα βιβλία που έτυχε να πέσω πάνω τους τώρα τελευταία: έχεις ένα ταξίδι στην μουσική-που-δεν-είναι-μουσική, έχεις προσωπικά βιώματα, έχεις απόψεις, έχεις απίστευτο υλικό για να ξεσκαλίσεις, έχεις βιβλιογραφία και δισκογραφία και όρεξη, και έχεις την διάθεση να το διαβάσεις αν σου αρέσει η μουσική.

Even now, 15 years on, this is a book that makes me feel pleasantly like I'm living in the future. It's sort of like a William Gibson novel, a constant stream of semi-bewildering cross-cultural syncretic references, in a fascinating poetic style. Appropriately enough, it's a great book for browsing around in, which is what I did with it for all these years until just recently I decided to read it all the way through at last.

I once told a friend that it was a book about ambient music, and saw hi
Dec 30, 2012 Anders rated it really liked it
Ocean of Sound was written by David Toop, a British music-thinker, who has a history within the British free improvised scene of the 70's. Published in 1995, very current. My impression is he free-associated and free-wheeled through a whole roster of ideas and musicians, possible and impossible realms of music as a phenomenon, and linked them to general cultural trends of previous and tangibly close eras. I find his writing on point using a personal sphere of examples and drawn connections. He d ...more
Jan 13, 2017 Wim rated it it was amazing
gekregen als geschenkje. lijkt essentiel voor jon hassel freaks, stamgasten van de chilloutroom en andere mensen die zin hebben om deze manier van luisteren eens onder de loep te leggen. mooi dat hij er een kleurrijk, persoonlijk document van heeft gemaakt ipv een al te droog en gestructureerd overzichtje.
Jul 13, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, music, discography
"The sound object, represented most dramatically by the romantic symphonies of the nineteenth century, has been fractured and remade into a shifting, open lattice on which new ideas can hang, or through which they can pass and interweave. This is one metaphor. Landscape is another - a conjured place through which the music moves and in which the listener can wander."

Toop presents his subject in a similarly non-linear fashion. Some parts are more successful than others; not all meandering is of i
Sep 07, 2008 Halliday rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Halliday by: Steven
"The magician is assisted by a boy, to whom (in the dark) he speaks at a distance through a tube formed of the windpipes of cranes, storks, or swans ... A skull is made from the omentum of an ox, Etruscan wax, and gypsum and is connected with the windpipe of a crane through which an assistant speaks. Then burning coals and incense are put around it, and the skull vanishes (by the wax melting)."
There is enough raw musicological data in this little book to last a lifetime. Fuck what yo mama say --
Really wonderful survey of "ambient," expanded to include jimi hendrix, rahsaan roland kirk, kate bush, etc. More to do with world-building than rock and roll. Hippie but not hokey. "There is talk of the object of the future as something evanescent, light, psychic; of immaterial objects akin to images or holograms." // "Transient non-articulated feelings... 'The Poetics of Space,' whether the ambience of a room, the ribbon of road, or the boundless envelopment of oceanic space." (!!) LOVELY, moo ...more
Jindřich Mynarz
Mar 29, 2015 Jindřich Mynarz rated it it was ok
- "You have to accept what's there. To hear nothing, you have to be dead."

This book is stuck halfway between art and research report, which is a difficult position be in. The author mixes mood-evoking snippets with random factoids into fragmentary accounts of ambient music history. The sampled mixture is enjoyable at times but ends up together rather as a white noise texture than a consistent whole.
Adam Patterson
Feb 22, 2009 Adam Patterson rated it really liked it
I flew through this one, and really appreciate this kind of journalism/journaling. Lots of jumping around and connecting seemingly disparate pieces of 20th century music into, well, like a kind of a large body of salt-water, except with, like, sound instead of starfish.

He's a bit of an-extra-corraly-colored writer at times, with the Poetry knob turned up high to a point that will turn some more bare-bones favoring readers straight off, but I can hang with that sorta language just fine.
Nick Johnston
May 28, 2014 Nick Johnston rated it really liked it
Pretty amazing voyage into the murky realms of recorded sound. Ocean of Sound is a good title: the connections Toop makes between disparate musics and musicians does give the book an oceanic feel that defies traditional analysis, much like most of the music he touches on. A book like this leaves you wanting more, but that's probably the whole idea... I feel like when I reread it, it will be a different book.
Oct 16, 2007 Will rated it really liked it
this is a really interesting and in-depth study of ambient music. the only thing that keeps me from giving 5 stars is the writing approach, which is a little too stylized for me, but it kind of works well with the kind of music that it's talking about. pretty crucial for talking about ambient music in all forms.
Ray Dunsmore
A strange and interesting journey through the efforts of musicians to create landscapes with sound; to describe only with their instruments a strange mental landscape. The prose gets very interesting in parts, and the music described within (handily compiled in a "discography" appendix) is stunning, second to none.
Jan 23, 2008 Bret rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
If you are interested in the history of artists/performers who push the boundaries of music/performance/sound-based art, this is the author to read. I usually have to have a notebook close by so that I can write down music that I need to check out or revisit. I created a lot of sound-based sculptures while I was in school, so this was right up my alley.
Dec 05, 2007 Tosh rated it it was amazing
David Toop is one of the better 'music' writers out there right now. He's also a composer, but alas this is a creative 'study' on ambiant music of all sorts. I can't imagine having a music library (books) and not having this and Toop's other book "Exotica" part of the collection. Essential reading and fascinating history.
Ryan Dohm
May 14, 2012 Ryan Dohm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Been many years since I've read this, but I forgot how wonderful Toop's prose is. So Impressionistic yet futuristic and otherworldly. Reminiscent of William Gibson's not-quite-present/near-future style.
Feb 02, 2008 Whitsitt rated it really liked it
This is the second time I've read this book, and it is even better with several years of exploring music since the first time. More or less about "ambient" music, but really about all sorts of interesting music that treats sound spatially.
Dec 02, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I learned I need to re-read it, with an eye for taking notes. Whilst I've heard of, if not heard, a fair number of the musicians described within it, there are hops and allusions to others and other aural delights among the excellent dalliances with Eno and his ilk which invite pursuit.
Colin Masso
Jun 21, 2013 Colin Masso rated it it was amazing
This book sent me on a really interesting path where I discovered a lot of fantastic new music, and rediscovered things I hadn't thought about in years.
Jan 18, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stream-of-consciousness trip through the subtle and imaginative world of David Toop as he waxes nostalgic upon all his musical forbears.
Aug 17, 2011 john rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took notes reading this (which I normally NEVER do). I learned a lot from this and it definitely expanded my repertoire. A plus to any library.
Phil Overeem
Sep 13, 2014 Phil Overeem rated it really liked it
It reads like the music Toop focuses on listens. And I like that. I will read more of his work, the ultimate positive review.
Kendra Strand
Kendra Strand rated it really liked it
May 12, 2014
Stewart Tame
Stewart Tame rated it liked it
Oct 20, 2014
Justin Thorne
Justin Thorne rated it really liked it
Nov 12, 2015
Peyu Solakov
Peyu Solakov rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2011
Mark rated it really liked it
Feb 23, 2012
Vũ Tài
Vũ Tài rated it it was amazing
Nov 15, 2014
Rui Silveira
Rui Silveira rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2014
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