David Toop in conversation with performances from Rashad Becker and Bell Lungs.
David Toop (b.1949) has been developing a practice that crosses boundaries of sound, listening, music and materials since 1970. This encompasses improvised music performance, writing, electronic sound, field recording, exhibition curating, sound art installations and opera. It includes seven acclaimed books, including Rap Attack (1984), Ocean of Sound (1995), Sinister Resonance (2010), Into the Maelstrom (2016) and Flutter Echo, a memoir first published in Japan (2017). Briefly a member of David Cunningham’s pop project The Flying Lizards in 1979, he has released thirteen solo albums, from New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Sound Body on David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label (2006) to Entities Inertias Faint Beings (2016). His 1978 Amazonas recordings of Yanomami shamanism and ritual were released on Sub Rosa as Lost Shadows (2016). In recent years his collaborations include Rie Nakajima, Akio Suzuki, Tania Chen, John Butcher, Ken Ikeda, Elaine Mitchener, Henry Grimes, Sharon Gal, Camille Norment, Sidsel Endresen, Alasdair Roberts, Thurston Moore, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a revived Alterations, the iconoclastic improvising quartet with Steve Beresford, Peter Cusack and Terry Day first formed in 1977. Curator of sound art exhibitions including Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery (2000), his opera – Star-shaped Biscuit – was performed as an Aldeburgh Faster Than Sound project in 2012. He is currently Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at London College of Communication.
Rashad Becker is a composer and musician residing in Berlin.
His compositions are multilayered narratives populated by an ensemble of sonic entities, some smug, some shy, some agitators, others ready to surrender. Often there’s a tragic-comical touch, like a cartoon version of what could be a requiem from a dream (or just as much a fertility dance from another dimension).
Recent works include the cycle Traditional Music Of Notional Species released across two volumes on PAN, and a multi-part work called Based On A True Story that derives scores from historical occurrences in a sort of ‘sonic staging’. In this context, he is currently commissioned by New York-based ensemble Alarm Will Sound and Berlin string ensemble Kaleidoskop.
Rashad is mainly active as a solo artist but finds himself in a series of permanent collaborations alongside Eli Keszler, Moritz von Oswald and as a member of the formation Moleglove. Other and more sporadic collaborators have been Okkyung Lee, Andre Vida, Ashley Paul, and Valerio Tricoli.
'Becker’s deft manipulation of the oddball sounds he creates allows him to elevate what could have been hazy sketches into the realm of high art' — The Quietus