David Toop and Max Eastley

New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments
Virgin / CDOVD478

Max Eastley / sculptures, David Toop / voice, guitar, chordophone, flute, Frank Perry / percussion, Paul Burwell / percussion, Brian Eno / bass guitar, Hugh Davies / grill harp

Max Eastley’s kinetic sculptures are things of ingenious beauty coaxed into song by wind and flowing rivers, but nobody needs half a CD’s worth of their clanking, bubbling or wobbly noises. This recording may have been made with documentary intentions, but isolating the auditory component of Eastley’s environmental art actually does his work a considerable disservice because the object’s physical presence and location are lost. Historically resonant stuff, linking up Eno’s early imprimatur with the dark ambient and deep listening preoccupations of a quarter century later, but it’s an unrewarding listen.

The rest of this broken-backed album is given over to three tracks by Toop. “Do the Bathosphere [sic]” features Toop’s weedy, can’t-sing voice in a very fleetingly diverting piece of English whimsy. “The Divination of the Bowhead Whale”, an ensemble piece, features the album’s best music, while “The Chairs Story” is a multitracked eco-dirge about seals and frogs. Very much of its time. Richard Cochrane