In the 1970s David Toop became preoccupied with the possibility that music was no longer bounded by formalities of audience: the clapping, the booing, the short attention span, the demand for instant gratification. Considering sound and listening as foundational practices in themselves leads music into a thrilling new territory: stretched time, wilderness, video monitors, singing sculptures, weather, meditations, vibration and the interior resonance of objects, interspecies communications, instructional texts, silent actions, and performance art.
Toop sought to document the originality and unfamiliarity of this work from his perspective as a practitioner and writer. The challenge was to do so without being drawn back into the domain of music while still acknowledging the vitality and hybridity of twentieth-century musics as they moved toward art galleries, museums, and site-specificity. Toop focused on practitioners, whose stories are as compelling as the theoretical and abstract implications of their works.
Inflamed Invisible collects more than four decades of David Toop's essays, reviews, interviews, and experimental texts, drawing us into the company of artists and their concerns, not forgetting the quieter, unsung voices. The volume is an offering, an exploration of strata of sound that are the crossing points of sensory, intellectual, and philosophical preoccupations, layers through which objects, thoughts and air itself come alive as the inflamed invisible.
Spotify and QR Codes
This is a book about music, and we wanted to bring the print text to sonic life. We have compiled a series of web links to take you to recordings of the music, musicians, and artists David Toop describes, as well as to artists’ websites. We have placed codes in the margins, so you can listen to the music written about as you read. These codes can be scanned by a smartphone camera. On some phones, the built-in camera app will automatically recognise a code. On other phones, you would need to download a QR code reader app.
We have endeavored to find online as much of the music as possible, whether the pieces have been commercially released or not. Many of the links take you to the Discogs database. There, there are links to videos and audio on YouTube. Some links take you to the artist’s gallery website or personal site.
For the music that is commercially available, we have compiled an Inflamed Invisible playlist on the Spotify music streaming service. The playlist is accessible.
Individual tracks from this playlist are seen as Spotify codes in the margins. To scan these, please download and use the Spotify app on your phone. Select the magnifying glass icon to search, then select the camera icon and scan the code.
Atau Tanaka, Sonics Series Editor
David Toop – Inflamed Invisible
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback, 368 pp, 2019
"This book, the only history of free jazz in Japan, has been reprinted many times in Japan and is finally available to readers overseas in English translation. From its earliest stirrings in the 1960s until it reached international recognition in the 1970s and after, free jazz in Japan is a unique music that has found its perfect scribe. Teruto Soejima was a writer who fell in love with a music and devoted his life to it as promoter, critic, label owner, tour organiser, and much more.
"If you like jazz at all, if you like the unique voices of Japan at all, this book will open your ears to many sounds you haven't heard, or heard of, before.
"Introduction by Otomo Yoshihide. All new photos in this edition, none used from the original Japanese volume." - Publisher Public Bath
"Soejima Teruta was a legend on the scene of jazz and improvised music in Japan ... Much more than a critical observer, Soejima-san was a tireless supporter of music and musicians, and will always be remembered for his brilliant mind and gentle soul."- John Zorn
Free Jazz In Japan: A Personal History by Teruto Soejima
Pianist and composer Fred Van Hove (°1937) was involved in the Big Bang of European free improvisation (Machine Gun by the Peter Brötzmann Octet), but also became one of Europe’s finest and most underestimated improvisers. Mostly known for his 70’s trio with Brötzmann and Han Bennink, Van Hove’s trajectory over the past 4 decades has been one of the brilliant, but unsung stories of the music.
The new Dropa Disc release Fred Van Hove At 80 is an effort to rectify this imbalance and give some credit where it’s due. Combining three sublime concerts that were recorded in 2017 with a 80-page hardcover book containing a rich, extended essay by Hugo de Craen and beautiful photos from the year in which the celebrations took place, Fred Van Hove At 80 is a much-needed document that no serious lover of the music can afford to miss.
Fred Van Hove at 80
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback, 168 pp, 2016
"Toshiharu Osato’s literary memoir of the origins of Tokyo's most uncompromising punk band Gaseneta, who invented postpunk artcore just as the rest of the world was coming to terms with punk. It certainly sets a record for literary references in a book about artcore music! Funny, thoughtful and ultimately moving account. Awarded Best Book of the Year for 2017 by terminal-boredom.com!" - Publisher Public Bath
Biba Kopf writing in The Wire 400 described Gaseneta Wasteland as a "heartbreakingly funny, insightful and moving memoir of Gaseneta, a short-lived Japanese art punk group who revved up and roared and crackled and coughed and collapsed down the deep dark hole of their own devising in lates 1970s Tokyo... Osato's memoir makes you feel the burn like no other."
Gaseneta Wasteland by Toshiharu Osato
“Far to the North. past the towns, beyond the forests, and more distant than most have dared to go, there lies a small group of islands that against all the odds survive amongst the rocks and brine at the very edge of everything.”
The Nuckelavee is a fresh re-telling of an old Orcadian folk story, written and illustrated by Oliver Barrett in this new edition from Tartaruga Press. Set across one stormy island night, The Nuckelavee follows Tammas Kelpy as he braves the wild elements and fearsome terrain, whilst something terrifying and ancient awaits him in the darkness... .Featuring stunning hand-drawn ink and pencil illustrations throughout and a hand-screenprinted dust jacket, The Nuckelavee is available in an edition of 250 numbered copies. .Oliver Barrett is a musician and illustrator whose work has featured on various prints, posters and records (both his own as Petrels as well as numerous others). This is his first book.
Oliver Barrett – The Nuckelavee
* This book is a monster. It's huge. Hence price and postage. So you know...
free improvisation: what goes on? how does it work?
how can you write about it?
Musicswas published, from 1975 to 1979, by musicians and artists on the London scene of free improvisation, focusing on the most innovative participants of their generation. Steve Beresford, David Toop, Annabel Nicholson, Evan Parker, David Cunningham, Lindsay Cooper, Eddie Prevost, John Russell, Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Peter Riley and many, many others contributed to the writing, graphics and photography.
Musicswas a blueprint for the interdisciplinary activities of sound art, field recording, free improvisation, live electronics, 20th century composition & audio culture. It came out six times a year and ran for twenty-three hand-assembled issues. The journal covered improvised and non-western music alongside performance art, reflecting the broad interests of the so-called “second generation” of London’s improvisers, and provided a convivial focus point. Overlapping with thelondon musicians’ collective (lmc), the publication first launched in Spring of 1975, with the tagline:an impromental experivisation arts magazineand a manifesto that proposed the destruction of artificial boundaries, and linked Free Jazz, the academic ministrations of John Cage, Cornelius Cardew and K. Stockhausen and indigenous and non-European music.Musicswas significant in the discussion of traditional Asian instruments as paths of equal value for the performance of musics.
Produced by what was effectively an anarchist collective with few publishing skills and no support, the magazine’s roughness, marginality and scarcity has kept it from those who are active, even prominent in the field. Musicsis an entree to the arcane world of the 1970s London improviser’s scene and presents scores, dialogues, debates, positioning, arguments, accolades, critiques, absurdist/dada notions, and a bit of pranksterism - all with collective enthusiasm.
Founding Editor David Toop: “with rose-tinted affection I recall mass paste-up sessions with spray mount… a page of reviews of electronic music by women, written by Lily Greenham in 1978… in the same issue are five beautifully written and illustrated pages about listening in Greece. An Aural Sketchbook by Dave Veres was just one example of pieces about listening practice and field recording; others include Found Sounds by Michael Leggett, Sounds in Kyōdo by Kazuko Hohki, New York Sounds by Fred Frith and Sounds Heard at La Sainte-Baume by Hugh Davies. There are also invaluable accounts of groups such as The People Band, Feminist Improvising Group, CCMC, Los Angeles Free Music Society, MEV and the Dutch musicians associated with Instant Composers Pool. Interspersed among all this loamy archival material are a few essays of grinding tedium, snarky barbs of wit, barely decipherable photographs…”
Introduction: Steve Beresford / Foreword: David Toop
isbn: 978-0-9972850-5-5 / Publisher:ecstatic peace library
Pub date: 1 September 2016
Flexi-bound cover, Swiss-bound, 800 pages
Ed Askew is a singer-songwriter and painter born in 1940 in Stanford, Connecticut. Moving to New York for a few months in 1967, he was offered a recording contract with ESP — home also to Sun Ra and Albert Ayler — and soon released his first album Ask The Unicorn, now regarded as a folk-psychedelic classic.
Between 1968 and 1986 Ed lived mostly in New Haven, playing occasional shows there, solo and with his band. Around 1987, he moved to New York City, where he continues to write and record songs, and occasionally perform.
Never having heard of Ed previously, the wind in the trees happily encountered him on a rare visit to play with his band in London. The purity, pathos and power of his music blew us away. One song played included the words
wind in the trees is blowingthoughts in the mind
ED ASKEW Moon in the Mind
Fate was speaking, so subsequently we got in touch and Ed offered the opportunity to publish Red Lamp Poems, a collection of visual/concrete poetry — terse, playful, tender — composed, typed and elaborated with a painter’s eye and a musician’s phrasing back in 1969 on a delicately-tinted variety of graph papers.
Ed Askew - Red Lamp Poems book
Compost and Height is pleased to announce the publication of Patrick Farmer’s new book, Yew Grotesque.
Farmer has been working on this book for the last year as part of a joint commission from Sound and Music and Forestry Commission England. It was developed during a series of week-long residential trips to Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, where Farmer resided in a log cabin and spent time walking the forested area between Coniston Water and Lake Windermere. This direct relationship between the forest and the book is veiled, though the underlying presence is integral to its makeup.
Yew Grotesque completes a series of works, comprising Farmer’s previous books try i bark and wild horses think of nothing else the sea. Together the three books offer both a direct and indirect textual engagement with listening. The relationship between these publications is typified by the words of Jack Spicer, a poet who felt that his own works “echo and re-echo against each other”, “create resonances” and can’t “live alone anymore than we can”.
The undertow of Farmer’s preceding books, found in the knots and temporary dichotomies of the external and internal, now find their opposite in the publication of Yew Grotesque. The new book’s underlying personality and its observation of the many divergent angles and qualities of listening was prevalent from its conception, but its role in sealing and joining the three books together was only made apparent towards its end. It is a perverse book of praise that attempts to lay itself out flat by concerning itself with the tools that can make the object, rather than the object itself.
Yew Grotesque opens on the morning of a symposium, observing the protagonist as he moves through a series of exercises in a hotel room, whilst intently listening to his inner speech rehearse a speculative conversation between two dead artists.
Patrick Farmer – Yew Grotesque (Book)
“This is the prize-winning history of the music known as Enka, one of the dominant forms of postwar popular music, that rearranged everyone’s understanding of the history of postwar pop. Love it or hate it, Enka is a necessary background for anyone hoping to understand the music of Japan. With a new introduction by the author and full color printing (unlike the Japanese original), this is a must-have for your collection.”
Creating Enka: The “Soul of Japan” in the Postwar Era by Wajima Yusuke
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback & CD, 312 pp, 2017
The English translation of legendary folk singer Mikmai Kan's autobiography is now available. The book comes with a CD of Mikami live in Sapporo in February of 2017. The book is a complete translation of Folk ni Ikiru, with additional autobiographical writing and interview material added.
Clive Bell writes in The Wire 412: "Hopkins has done a great job with a wild text. He has fleshed out the story by including extracts from Mikami's 1973 writings, plus an interview reviewing the ten records he made in the 1970s when Columbia tried repeatedly (and failed) to make him a star... The lasting impression is Mikami's passion in everything he tackles, and his thoughts about his spiritual and artistic path as he approaches his 70th birthday: 'In order to keep your essence pure, you have to become dirtier than the thing that tries to foul your pure essence'."
A Life In Folk (And Other Bitter Songs) by Kan Mikami
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback + CD, 244 pp, 2019
"The acclaimed collection by Seiichi Yamamoto with all new art, photography and a new CD of remixed and new music by Omoide Hatoba and Suido Megane Satsujin Jiken." - Publisher Public Bath Press
"Of course, Seiichi Yamomoto is famous as the visionary guitarist of The Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba, Rashinban, Live Under The Sky, Most, Para, Novo Tono and many, many, more projects. His solo work is extensive. He is also proprietor of live house Namba Bears, home of the most interesting shows in Osaka. In the mid-1990s, when Boredoms mania was at its peak, Yamamoto-san was asked by Guitar Magazine to write a regular column. This book represents the best of that writing, with added poetry, fiction and art.
"Less well known, at least overseas, is that he is also a fine artist and photographer, having been featured in several solo shows at galleries.
"Yamamoto-san has an enigmatic, opaque way of speaking/writing that can feel simultaneously very warm and somehow off-putting. He is basically a very shy person who yet seems to spend most of his time on a stage in the spotlight.
"Ginga is the Japanese word for Milky Way, but here it is written in katakana and not its customary kanji (meaning silver river) so who knows if it means anything. He asked me if Gitabarrio, the repeating title of his column, meant anything to me. I said that I could see Gita, the song of the blessed one, and with a stretch, guitar, coming from his own barrio??? He merely smiled. Now it's your turn."- Translator Kato David Hopkins
Ginga by Seiichi Yamamoto
Microgroove continues John Corbett's exploration of diverse musics, with essays, interviews, and musician profiles that focus on jazz, improvised music, contemporary classical, rock, folk, blues, post-punk, and cartoon music. Corbett's approach to writing is as polymorphous as the music, ranging from oral history and journalistic portraiture to deeply engaged cultural critique. Corbett advocates for the relevance of "little" music, which despite its smaller audience is of enormous cultural significance. He writes on musicians as varied as Sun Ra, PJ Harvey, Koko Taylor, Steve Lacy, and Helmut Lachenmann. Among other topics, he discusses recording formats; the relationship between music and visual art, dance, and poetry; and, with Terri Kapsalis, the role of female orgasm sounds in contemporary popular music. Above all, Corbett privileges the importance of improvisation; he insists on the need to pay close attention to “other” music and celebrates its ability to open up pathways to new ideas, fresh modes of expression, and unforeseen ways of knowing.
About The Author
John Corbett is a music critic, record producer, and curator. He is the author of Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein, also published by Duke University Press. His writing has appeared in Downbeat, The Wire, the Chicago Reader, and numerous other publications. He is the co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey, an art gallery in Chicago.
John Corbett - Microgroove Book
Please note that this is a pre-order – we are expecting stock in October and copies will be shipped out as soon as we have them.
Brand new book featuring photos of Peter Brötzmann at Cafe OTO taken over the past decade by Dawid Laskowski. With text by John Chantler, Hamish Dunbar, Heather Leigh and Seymour Wright.
64x240, 96 pages, 1+1, 150 gsm G print, 2 cover with 4 pages 1+1, 300 gsm munken pure rough, sewed book, with open spin.
Brötzmann at OTO – Dawid Laskowski (PRE-ORDER)
Edited by Lawrence Kumpf. Contributors and featured artists include Onyx Ashanti, Amy Cimini, Marcia Douglas, Kazuo Imai, Werner Durand, Peter Gente, Heidi Paris, Robert Ashley, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Spencer Gerhardt, Adrian Rew, Paul Cummings, and Walter De Maria.
Taking its name from Maryanne Amacher’s visionary, unrealized opera, the fourth issue of Blank Forms’ journal, Intelligent Life, features a select group of unpublished, newly translated, or otherwise rare texts that augment our organization’s concerts, publications, exhibitions, and archival initiatives. The issue opens with a short literary essay by the author Marcia Douglas, in which a deep bass riddim guides a deaf narrator and a reincarnated Bob Marley through important sites in Rastafarianism’s development. Next come two interviews with crucial (though very different) figures in postwar avant-garde music: the Japanese guitarist Kazuo Imai and the American composer Robert Ashley, along with pianist and frequent collaborator “Blue” Gene Tyranny. The previously unpublished interview with Imai was conducted by Blank Forms’ Editor and Artistic Director Lawrence Kumpf during Imai’s first trip to the United States, in 2018, and finds the artist reflecting on recent work with the collective Marginal Consort as well as his foundational experiences playing with two other titans of Japanese experimentalism, Takehisa Kosugi and Masayuki Takayanagi. The interview with Ashley and “Blue” Gene, meanwhile, first published in German in 1984 on the occasion of a staging of Ashley’s opera Atalanta, was translated for the first time into English for this publication.
Intelligent Life continues with a series of longer pieces showcasing a diverse set of complex practices and histories, beginning with that of Detroit-based artist Onyx Ashanti. Onyx contributes his own Octavia Butler-referencing “sonocybernetic manifesto,” first published online in 2016, which exists simultaneously as theoretical treatise, memoir, and practical guide to his idiosyncratic technology-based practice. The manifesto is bolstered in this issue by a rare and extensive interview, conducted by Blank Forms’ Curatorial Assistant Adrian Rew in 2018. Following this exploration of Onyx’s life and work, the issue dives deeper into mathematics, with a comprehensive essay on Catherine Christer Hennix’s engagement with intuitionism and other esoteric approaches to math, written by the mathematician and musician Spencer Gerhardt. Gerhardt’s lucid, previously unpublished essay serves as a necessary complement to Blank Forms Editions’ forthcoming collection of Hennix’s abstruse, mostly unpublished body of writing, Poësy Matters and Other Matters.
The issue continues with a sort of titular essay, a rich analysis of Amacher’s Intelligent Life—the first such piece on this work—by Amacher scholar Amy Cimini. An incredibly prescient work that sought to upend any remaining vestiges of traditional operatic form and staging, Intelligent Life tells the story, set in 2021, of employees at Supreme Connections LLC, a futurist sonic entertainment corporation that formed following the collapse of a failed algorithmic music recommendation service. Cimini traces the technical and theoretical innovations with which Amacher imbued the work, situating it amid a detailed explication of Amacher’s still-overlooked practice. Intelligent Life—the journal issue—then concludes with a lengthy interview with the artist Walter De Maria. One of the few interviews De Maria gave in his lifetime, this one, created for the Archives of American Art in 1972, sheds significant light on De Maria’s early intellectual and artistic development as well as his work as a musician. Although he largely stopped playing music by 1970, and although few recordings of his efforts exist, De Maria played alongside musicians ranging from Lou Reed to Don Cherry to Henry Flynt, establishing himself early on as a force in jazz and avant-garde circles in both the Bay Area and New York City.
Taken together, the texts compiled here present a kaleidoscopic view of the last fifty years of experimental art and music in the United States and beyond, mining the conceptual, technical, historical, or otherwise marginal details undergirding artists’ lives, ideas, and approaches that may otherwise remain buried.
Blank Forms – Journal 4: Intelligent Life book
"In London, in the fall of 1965, a group of four musicians dissatisfied with the constrictions they had encountered in the British jazz scene, came together with a highly thought-out agenda to revolutionize the way music was created, rejecting rules firmly in place then (and still today) among even the most forward-looking of musicians: no repertoire, no solos, no regular rhythms, no melodies, no fear of silence, 100% improvised. Keith Rowe was one of the founding members. They called themselves AMM and soon added the composer Cornelius Cardew, an associate of John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who was seeking to escape what he thought were equivalent strictures in the avant-garde classical world. As a quintet, AMM created music unlike anything else being done at the time and, being immersed in the London scene of the mid-60s in which musical boundaries were amorphous, found themselves on the one hand sharing bills with nascent bands like Pink Floyd, The Who and Cream while on the other working with and alongside Yoko Ono and Christian Wolff.
"Rowe, a guitarist trained as a painter, adapted to his guitar the lessons he’d learned in the visual arts, placing it flat on a table or the ground as Jackson Pollock had done with his canvases, using it as a sound source to be approached with all manner of implements, opening up a vast new territory of exploration, one which would be enormously influential in rock, contemporary classical, and the field of free improvisation.
"Over 12 years in the making and via exhaustive research and exclusive interviews Brian Olewnick has traced Rowe’s life from childhood through the present, with focuses on London’s mid-60s experimental music scene, the political unrest of the late 60s, the radical politics of the early 70s, the ongoing saga of AMM through the 90s and the accompanying advance of creative music over that time period, centered around Rowe’s participation in those events and his major contributions to the contemporary avant-garde environment. Through the many ups and downs of AMM and beyond, Rowe has become an éminence grise to generations of musicians and is still today continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of sound.
"Brian Olewnick is a new music writer and visual artist. He helped run the avant-garde jazz loft Environ from 1976-1980 and was eventually seduced into writing about contemporary music in various forms from jazz to modern classical, free-improvisation and beyond. He has written for All Music Guide, The Wire, Time Out New York and other publications in addition to his blog, Just Outside, one of the principal sites for analysis of new music where he has published over 2,000 reviews since 2006. He has given talks on the craft of writing about contemporary music in Philadelphia, Västerås, Sweden and Sokołowska, Poland. He lives with his wife, Betsy, in Kinderhook, New York."
Brian Olewnick - Keith Rowe: The Room Extended Book
"In May 1977 Derek Bailey gave me a press ticket for Company Week - a series of concerts of improvised music in London. I made some notes at the time, but there seemed to be nowhere suitable to publish the extended commentary I eventually produced. So I wrote it into a dummy book and it to Derek. Most of it is reproduced here." Peter Riley 1994
Original copies of this rare and invaluable document.
Peter Riley - Company Week
Published by New DocumentsEdited by Will Holder, Alex Waterman.
American composer Robert Ashley (born 1930) has taken contemporary opera beyond the opera theater and into the television screen. Ashley’s operas draw an elegant cosmology of American consciousness out of storytelling, short phrases, ranting, chanting, profanity and the linguistic textures that make American speech musical. Working with the same four speakers/singers (Joan La Barbara, Sam Ashley, Tom Buckner and Jacqueline Humbert) for 30 years, Ashley has developed a collective, operatic form of storytelling whose production is almost entirely oral. Little exists on the page by way of a fully notated score, leaving the singers to fill in musical nuance and inflection through a process of “character development” that exists more off the page than on. Yes, But Is It Edible? is the culmination of activity and research around Ashley’s notational style that the editors have developed through a series of “rehearsals” and public readings ongoing since 2009.
Robert Ashley - Yes, But Is It Edible? Book
Issue 2 of the Cesura//Acceso, journal of music, politics and poetics. Featuring work by Paul Abbott, Larne Abse Gogarty, Kim O'Neil, Danny Hayward, David Morris, Nathaniel Mackey, Federica Frabetti and Mark Fell, Irene Revell and Annea Lockwood, ESW, Abject Subject Ensemble, Sophie Hoyle, Hannah Black, Naroder Bourniki, Paul Rekret, Clair Potter, Sacha Kahir, Byron Peters and Tyler Coburn, Pil and Galia Kollectiv and Verity Spott.
Cesura//Acceso - issue 2 Book