DAVID TOOP / PAUL BURWELL
When Paul Burwell and I started playing together just
after Christmas, 1969, we found ourselves wrestling with
a new language of sound, listening, actions, objects and space.
At first it was music. We studied in the improvisation classes
given by John Stevens at Ealing College in 1971-2, also took
classes in African music at London's Africa Centre.
Most of the musicians lasted only one or two sessions so we
resigned ourselves to being a duo nd worked out an approach
to free improvisation that expanded from simple structures and
instrument combinations. Decomposition, we called it.
We had worked intensively together, searching for techniques
through which to decondition ourselves from orthodoxies,
devising exercises in listening and instrument building, studying
esoteric organology, bioacoustics, environmental sound, raw
musics and anthropology. We were both fascinated by
phenomena like diffraction, propulsion, resonance, projection,
masking and heterodyning, and by shamanism, the symbolically
grounded agency of shamanic drums, animal-becoming and
noisy costume, the shaman's capacity to enliven quotidian
space with the commotion of discarnate audible entities
from the spirit world.
This recording is one of the very few that conveys anything of
what we were about.