David Toop, Akio Suzuki, Lawrence English – Breathing Spirit Forms

From Lawrence English 

"I am ceaselessly fascinated by how memory operates and, I’m regularly struck by how individually subjective a collective experience can be when recalled by its participants. Lynch’s Lost Highway comes to mind here, specifically Bill Pullman’s character Fred Madison who says “I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened.” Like Madison, I can’t help but sense that memory takes shape through an accumulative process that reflects how each of us have lived (and maybe even wanted to live) up to that point in time. 

Going back to listen again to these recordings of which I was a part with David and Akio, I was surprised by what elements had stayed with me and what others had slipped into the eternal greying of my mind. I have vivid recollections of listening to a Lyre bird before recording the pieces together at Witches Falls. I remember both Akio and David finding musicality in decaying palm fronds. I remember Akio’s voice, amplified through his Analpos, bouncing off the stones and trees. I remember David’s flute, so quiet in the pitch black of the night forest as to appear like a hushed tone of wind or a distant animal calling. I also remember trying to match my modest hand held electronics with the pulsing and pitching of the insects around me. 

Reading David’s text, which is included in the book published alongside this edition, he recounts several things I had forgotten. Conversations about memory, ironically enough, had vanished from my mind until reading his words. I also didn’t really remember my role as tick surgeon, removing a living insect from David’s ear. I do remember his cooking though, as does Akio (captured aptly in his drawings), no doubt a testament to David’s improvisational culinary expertise. 

Breathing Spirit Forms represents a distinctive exchange between friends and collaborators. Tamborine commands a special presence and encourages a deep patience from those who are willing to give time to its varied environments. For the three of us, we were fortunate to share these moments together, fleeting in our lives as they might be, to sense the mountain’s unique qualities, to respond to them through our exchanges and to form memories (as disparate as they might be) we carry forward with us in time."

Lawrence English

Lawrence English is composer, media artist and curator based in Australia. Working across an array of aesthetic investigations, English’s work explores the politics of perception and prompts questions of field, perception and memory. English utilises a variety of approaches including visceral live performance and installation to create works that ask audiences to consider the relationship to space, place and experiential embodiment. 

Over the past decade, English’s sonic investigations have traversed a divergent path through which musical languages and environmental sources are granted equal focus. His work calls into question the established relationships of sound, harmony, distortion and structure. His sound work is evocative and invites the listener to explore their own narratives and impressions informed by personal histories and experiences. Published widely on respected imprints including Important Records, Touch, 12K, Taiga, and Winds Measure, English’s work is sculpted, colliding overwhelmingly intricacy with roaring waves of low vibration. His latest solo album Wilderness Of Mirrors revels in ‘extreme dynamics and densities’ and resolves into an ‘overriding aesthetic of harmonic distortion’. He is one half of Slow Walkers with musician Liz Harris and enjoys ongoing collaborations with John Chantler (as Holy Family), Jamie Stewart, Stephen Vitiello, Werner Dafeldecker, David Toop, Akio Suzuki and others. 

David Toop

David Toop (born 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 forthcoming - Flutter Echo, a memoir first published in Japan in 2017 (May 2019) and Inflamed Invisible: Writing On Art and Sound 1976-2018 (2020). 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.

http://davidtoopblog.com/

Akio Suzuki

A legendary Japanese sound artist, Akio Suzuki has been performing, building instruments, and presenting sound installations for nearly 40 years. His music is simple and pure, exploring how natural atmospheres and sounds can be harnessed and then set free. To experience his art is to lose oneself in the sound that surrounds us. Akio performs on a range of unique self-made instruments including Analapos – an instrument he invented in the 1970s that creates echoes through the acoustic transmissions of a spiral cord stretched between two metal cylinders, De Koolmees - consisting of hollow glass tubes suspended over a frame, and an ancient stone flute (Iwabue) passed down through his family for many generations. Akio has collaborated with artists such as Toru Takemitsu, Takehisa Kosugi, Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Steve Lacy and John Butcher. 

Films by Helen Petts