David Toop & Avsluta – On White, Indigo and Lamp Black

"While the Coronavirous lockdown made many things impossible or infinitely more difficult and painful, it also opened up an unprecedented space to think, to reflect and to work in ways that the usual pressures deny. 

On March 17th David Toop and Lucie Stepankova were due to play in a trio with Yifeat Ziv at Café Oto; then on April 9th they were also booked to play at Iklectik as a duo. Both gigs were cancelled, of course, because of the virus. In support of Iklectik, Lucie and David agreed to record a track together in the only way possible, by exchanging files and passing mixes back and forth across the aether. The feeling of working on this first track was positive so they decided to make a mini-album. One of the elements from the first track was a reading by Lucie of a passage from Kenya Hara’s book, On White, and this preoccupation with colour became a theme for the whole project. Other tracks were inspired by the writings of Hilma af Klint on mystical blue, Hokusai on shades of black, François Jullien on the six colours of Chinese ink and Cees Noteboom on the yellow/orange hue of a ceramic bowl. 

Jullien wrote of a transition from ‘physical concretion to spirit dimension’, according to the dilution of the ink. This is how these tracks felt as they emerged between April and June of extraordinary times. When the album was finished it seemed fitting to offer it to Café Oto in a gesture of support and hopefulness for the future of London’s key venues. 

David Toop and Lucie Stepankova have previously played in duos at Café Oto, Iklectik and at the Jhilava documentary film festival. They have also played in trios with Yifeat Ziv at Hundred Years Gallery, Tania Caroline Chen at Iklectik and John Butcher at Hangar Bicocca, Milan." - David & Lucie


David Toop and Lucie Stepankova - composition & mixing


Dave Hunt - mastering

Oliver Barret - artwork design

1 - Blue Ether [03:49]
2 - About Spirits, Thick and Thin [02:47]
3 - A Black Which Is Old, A Black Which Is Fresh [05:13]
4 - On White [03:23]
5 - The Gleam of Candied Ginger [07:00]

“Firstly I shall try to understand the flowers of the earth, shall take as my starting point the plants of the world; then I shall study, with equal care, that which is preserved in the waters off the world. Then it will be the blue ether with all its various animal species . . . and finally I shall penetrate the forest, shall study the moist mosses, all the trees and animals that dwell among these cool dark masses of trees . . .”
Hilma af Klint

“Later technical treatises will list six ‘colours’ of ink, but these are ‘black,’ ‘white,’ ‘dry,’ ‘wet,’ ‘thick,’ and ‘thin’ . . . Depending on the state of dilution of the ink, these gradations foster the continuous transition of beings and things from physical concretion to spirit dimension.”
François Jullien

“There is a black which is old and a black which is fresh. Lustrous black and dull black, black in sunlight and black in shadow. For the old black one must use an admixture of blue, for the dull black an admixture of white, for the lustrous black, gum must be added. Black in sunlight must have grey reflections.”

“The world is like a sumptuous feast of every imaginable colour. The freshness of the trees, the sparkle of the surface of the water, the intense colour of fruits, the fiery brilliance of a roaring bonfire . . . Yet, over a very long period of time, these infinite movements and palpitations of life mix to form the colour brown. The brilliance of nature’s colours is as boisterous as the palettes of the Impressionist painters. Once joined, however, they immediately turn to the grey of chaos. Green leaves are tinged with scarlet and gold in the fall, only to wither away, just like the metaphor ‘return to the soil.’ Yet chaos does not signify death. Rather it is filled with the energy of dazzling colour and will give birth to brand new colours once again.

We can place white within this realm of mutating and evolving life forms. White is the most singular and vivid image that arises from the centre of chaos. It works against the principle of mixture, revealing itself by breaking the gravity that pulls everything towards grey. White is the most extreme example of this singularity. It is not a mixed entity; it is not even a colour at all.”
Kenya Hara

“The bowl had the same colour as the dead leaves . . . the gleam of candied ginger, sweet and bitter, hard and soft.”
Cees Nooteboom

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.


Lucie Stepankova

Lucie Stepankova graduated in Sound Arts from the London College of Communication, works at Phonica Records and runs a monthly radio show on London's Netil Radio. She currently explores electro-acoustic composition and performance (under her alias Avsluta) and free improvisation. Her work in these fields is focusing on creating and inhabiting environments which could be actual, possible or imaginary. Drawing inspiration from Taoism and Japanese Aesthetics, as well as modern Western art movements, her performances are joining together the emotive and spiritual with the highly aestheticized and conceptual and blur the line between these two worlds. She works with analog synthesis, field recordings, personal objects, and electronics.'

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