David Toop is so carefully attenuated to his sound world that it seems hardly to matter whether he's writing about or making music; one only wishes it were possible to somehow listen to him in the act of listening. On Wanderkammen he meets with the wonderful experimental harpist Rhodri Davies and electronicist Lee Patterson for a session that manages to be at one busy and sublime.
The language here is not unfamiliar: The disc is full of mechanized ticks and whirrs complemented by the occasional sound of a natural string (either from Davies' harp or Toop's steel guitar). But the cracks are caulked with any number of natural (if in absentia) sounds: an owl, maybe, perhaps a passing car, often treatments of Patterson's field recordings. These are folded into the mix, stretched, coddled or fractured, often smeared before they're quite recognizable.
As the disc progresses, the environment seems to withdraw. Familiar sounds recede, the world seems darker — it becomes, perhaps, less inviting. What might be wise, then, is to play the record twice in a row. The titles all suggest lives springing from death (within the "cabinet of curiosities" of the album title): "From the ashes springs a seven-pointed flower," "In the dead body of a calf are generated bees." The album's title, for that matter, translates as "a cabinet of curiosities." Perhaps the best way to read this record, then, is as a single turn of a wheel. Engaging in the cycle carries rewards.
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