Obscure #4: David Toop/Max Eastley



David Toop/Max Eastley
New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments

Max Eastley
01 Hydrophone (8:57)
02 Metallophone (6:53)
03 The Centriphone (4:51)
04 Elastic Aerophone/Centriphone (4:53)
David Toop
05 The Chairs Story (3:08)
06 The Divination Of The Bowhead Whale (13:25)
07 Do The Bathosphere (2:38)

Total time: 44:40
LP released on Island Records, 1975
Note: Toop’s tracks listed in wrong order on cover.

Max Eastley: Hydrophone, Metallophone, Centriphone, Aerophone
David Toop: voice, Prepared Electric Guitar, Bowed Chordophone, flute, water
Frank Perry: percussion
Paul Burwell: Bass Drums, Lorry Hub, String Fiddle
Brian Eno: Prepared Bass Guitar, vocals
Hugh Davies: grill harp
Chris Munro: vocals
Phil Jones: vocals

In 1974, David Toop published a book titled ‘New/Rediscovered Instruments’, a survey of self-build instruments in the UK, including articles on the likes of Hugh Davies, Paul Burwell, Evan Parker, Paul Lytton, David Toop and Max Eastley. From 1972, he ran a BBC radio show co-hosted with Eastley, mixing ethnic music with home made field recordings, a novelty at the time (information above from Toop’s book Ocean Of Sound, 1995). ‘The Divination Of The Bowhead Whale’ is structured by Frank Perry’s sparse gong reverberations, the ensemble resuming playing only after the end of a specific gong strike. Perry played percussion on the legendary 1973 Ovary Lodge LP with Keith Tippet. The track also embarks Hugh Davies’ grill harp and a bowed guitar. The music sounds like a field recording from a zen garden ceremony. Toop’s opening and closing tracks explore the fragility of his hushed falsetto, be it backed by sparse instruments on ‘The Chairs Story’, or acappela with a few chorus interjections from Eno, Munro and Jones on the finale. Using nature and natural elements as musical source and/or instruments is one of Max Eastley‘s most striking skills. His self-build hydrophone, for instance, produces a striking banshee-like whining sound, complete with the river stream and wind recording. The comparison with Henry Cowell’s ‘The Banshee’ (1925) and ‘The Aeolian Harp’ (1923) is interesting (listen here). Besides, there’s something gothic and unsettling in the sounds here, not unlike some Walter Scott ghost story. The Elastic Aerophone is a wind-propelled instrument similar to the one featured in the gorgeous video below. The whole LP is quite unique and hard to categorize.


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6 Responses to “Obscure #4: David Toop/Max Eastley”

  1. 2 michael December 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm


  2. 3 pan mietek December 19, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    a great listen – this one as well as the previous post. thanks.

  3. 4 daniel70 December 23, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks so much for the ‘Obscure’ albums (i’d love it if you’d go on to include the whole series here…) – and just as many thanks for all the effort & time taken into delving up all the info surrounding the releases!

  4. 5 continuo December 24, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Thanks. Some Obscure discs are currently available on CD and don’t really need a Continuo reassessment. Some others I’d like to add here, like Tom Phillips/Gavin Bryars/Fred Orton ‘Irma’ and John White/Gavin Bryars ‘Machine Music’. If anyone can provide the files…

  5. 6 koshka October 3, 2009 at 8:58 am

    if you’re always looking for these ones, i got a rip only at 192 for irma but at 320 for machine music…

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